The letter of the law

21 Mar

Queue Chopin’s Waltz for Piano No. 1 in E flat major (go ahead, I’ll wait). I choose this particular song because a) it’s in a major key, and b) it looked sort of lonely tonight among my iTunes albums. Also it has a variety of tempos and moods, which is sort of how life is just now. And the song may have you rolling on the floor if you’ve ever seen Frank Capra’s You Can’t Take It With You, which is probably my favorite movie of all time and a reminder that I could use daily.

Praise the Lord that Vicki arrived safely at the guest house in Lima around midnight yesterday, and despite a number of urgent phone calls to me for assistance of various types today, was able to complete the INTERPOL visit this morning all by herself. Her certificate will be ready on Tuesday, which, depending on your reading of the letter from Immigration, may be just in time for us to get it submitted. Unfortunately, Vicki will not be there on Tuesday. We have authorized a friend in Lima to pick it up and are hoping that another person who works frequently with Immigration may be able to drop it off for us. As an aside, the Peruvian government evidently has some kind of nationwide contest about ways to improve efficiency. Here’s a freebie: send a daily courier from INTERPOL to Immigration to deliver the certificates instead of requiring 20 people per day to make the trip, wait in line at Immigration, etc. I’m sure there is a delicious political reason why the agencies are unable to coordinate such a thing.

On the home front, I managed to get the kids up in time to have three (almost simultaneous) birthday calls before rushing them off to school. This afternoon, I took cupcakes to Timothy’s class to celebrate his birthday. His classmates were very friendly and quite excited about the cupcakes. Tonight we celebrated at Papa John’s. Upon seeing me, the manager remembered my last visit (they served our pizza to someone else so we had to wait another 15 minutes after already waiting half an hour for carry out) and whispered something to the cashier. Our pizzas arrived correctly in good time along with a small dessert pizza. Thank you, sir! On our previous visit, I was impressed by the way he handled the mistake and his concern for the customer. Their store will make it.

While waiting for pizza, I tried to purchase an item for Timothy’s birthday at Plaza Vea. It rang up about $7 more than the price marked directly under the item on the shelf so I went back with a clerk (not the cashier) and she explained to me that if I had read the fine print on the price tag directly under the item, I would see it was for a different model located elsewhere on the shelf. I asked WHERE on any of the shelves nearby I could find the price that rang up at the register. She held out her hand with a stack of price labels–“I was just about to put them on.” I explained to her quite angrily that one of the reasons there were always long lines in the store is because every fifth person requires a price check due to their carelessness with the placement of the price tags and the nearly unreadable item codes printed thereon. She is, of course, technically correct about the price tag, but cannot see the forest for the trees. This sort of letteristic behavior has given me a greater appreciation for what it means to live under the law vs. grace. It is horrible. The education system sadly reinforces this mentality, and I think there is a spiritual dimension, as well, owing to the influence of a religion which tends to emphasize external morality vs. unconditional grace. I later spoke calmly with the manager and apologized for my behavior with the señorita. He said he would “apply more pressure” to the staff to be careful with the price tags. Unfortunately, I think this is a “work smarter, not harder” sort of issue.

Registros Publicos assures me that the new manager of my company has been registered and the revised papers will be available tomorrow afternoon, which was a pleasant surprise as it’s usually a 3-day wait. We’ll see. My business cards are ready also. I haven’t really used them for years, but here they add an air of officiality. Business cards and a rubber stamp can get you places 😉

I’m very thankful that I was able to pick up my glasses from the taxi company. I called yesterday not 5 minutes after the driver had left and the dispatcher informed me that he was not responding to the radio call. About an hour later I called and repeated the taxi number G15, which I had mentally noted as I try to do in case there are problems, about 5x to the dispatcher. She could not understand me and hung up 😦 Later I asked a native speaker to call and they told her that not only were they not responsible for my glasses because I had hailed the taxi on the street vs. a phone call, but also they didn’t have a mobile number G15! In a last ditch effort, I took a taxi to the office over lunch today. A nice man asked the secretary to look up the cell # for G15. She immediately pulled up his picture and I confirmed that he was the driver. They called him and he said he had the glasses and would bring them to the office in 45 minutes. I said I had a class to teach and could he please bring them by my house instead? The man in the office said no, better to wait here. So I waited. The administrator called several times to find out status and emphasized that I was waiting in person in the office, which seems to help move things along. Almost on time, G15 showed up with the glasses and then gave me a ride to the house. As soon as I get in the car, he says, “you know you could have just called the dispatcher and I could have brought them to your house.” I don’t whether to laugh or cry. Yeah, buddy, the dispatcher says you don’t even exist! But, $8 and 1.5 hours later, I can see again 🙂

I had a productive and enjoyable afternoon with a group of promising students who patiently watched me code a new feature in my open source database library for Android so we can use it in our forthcoming app. I really enjoy these students and the time with them is what makes the bureaucracy all worthwhile. I have high hopes that, having cleared the initial bureaucratic hurdles, we may begin to have an economic and spiritual impact in the lives of many people.

3 Responses to “The letter of the law”

  1. georgiajammy March 21, 2014 at 5:35 am #

    Good letter – and the music was over at the exact time I finished reading! How’d you do THAT? 🙂

  2. Dawn March 21, 2014 at 6:44 am #

    Wow! We prayed for you all at the mission team mtg last night. 🙂

  3. michael CHANDLER March 21, 2014 at 8:08 pm #

    Well, it has taken a while but you are finally beginning to do what you wanted to do when you came to Peru. We are pleased you can teach again and that Vicki is documented and safely with you again. Have a great Saturday.

    Love, Dad

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