|I asked him how old his band saw was. He bunched his face|
up in thought before replying, "No se. Compre esta sierra
mas de cuarenta y tres anos pasado." I smiled and nodded.
I told him that 43 years is a long time, that his saw is
strong, "esta muy fuerte." He agreed. I felt awkard asking
to take a picture of his saw, but I shouldn't have. When
I suggested he get in the frame, he did so without
hesitation, even grabbing a small piece of wood as
After about 25 feet, the space opened into a small, uncovered yard. I saw a huge, ancient-looking planer, tables and lumber all around, and in the middle, a harp-shaped band saw that must be made of cast iron. He set the block down and then went to throw a breaker switch. Before he could return, the thing came to life. The two large metal wheels began to turn, speeding up slowly. It rumbled a bit and sounded like there might be a failing bearing in the electric motor.
He spent 10 minutes carefully cutting until it was perfect. He shut off the breaker and went about looking for drill bits and hole saws with which to make the different holes I also needed. After about 20 minutes, I asked how much I owed.
“Cinquenta pesos,” he said. I gave him 60 (about $4.40 USD) and thanked him for his time.
Having obtained the services of several different tradesmen in Mexico, I find it interesting that no discussion of price seems to happen before work is started. Think about how radical that is. And it isn’t just me; I’ve watched the interactions and transactions of Mexicans before me. The work is described by the customer, the tradesman affirms his understanding of the work and his ability to do it, the customer nods or says, “Esta bien,” and work commences.
I think people accept that the price charged is fair. I think that word-of-mouth is a very potent communication tool in these small communities. The merchant knows that to overcharge a customer would not serve his business interests. Furthermore, in my experience, small jobs happen right then and there, while you wait, even if the tradesman is in the middle of another project. It would be a new experience for me to present a small job to a tradesman and be told (in Spanish), “Yeah, write your name here and a number where we can reach you, this should be done by Friday,” or, “I’m sorry, I need to you stay in the waiting area, no customers allowed in the shop, insurance rules.”
No, not here.