Today was a bad day. I went to Telcel to buy a new SIM card to use while in Mexico, as I had lost my old one. That went fine, but when I rebooted my Android phone after installing the new SIM, the top half of my touch-screen didn’t work. It looks like I’ll need to do a screen replacement, which will cost roughly $95 plus international shipping.
Fortunately, I have a second phone, with two SIM card slots, so I am now on the Mexican phone network again, albeit with a phone that doesn’t even support T9.
Aside from my frustrating day of telephony, the most interesting thing I observed was that the majority of the employees at the Telcel store looked visibly depressed, angry, or otherwise like they would have rather been anywhere else at all. I found this to be an ironic contrast to my experience the day before at the Mexican immigration office, where I got my personal entry permit and my vehicle permit.
At the first booth at the immigration office, the gentleman gave me my personal permit, and informed me I had to proceed to the next window for the vehicle permit, but that I would only pay for the vehicle, not for the entry permit, as I normally do, because my temporary residency entry was a special case.
However, at the second window, they charged me anyway. When I asked about it, they said it was correct, and I believed them. But then the first guy I spoke with wandered by, and asked if I paid. When I said yes, he protested, and he and the other clerk had a brief conversation about it. I didn’t think a lot of it.
But as I was leaving–I was already in my car, backing out of my parking space–another clerk came running out to me, and told me that her coworker was consulting with her boss about the charge, and that I should go back in to see if I was due a refund.
The short version of the story is I didn’t get a refund, but had I entered by air or bus, I would not have paid the fee. But I was quite surprised by the extra effort these Mexican government employees went to, hoping to return a charge of about US$20 to me. There were 5 employees involved. This goes against practically every other experience I’ve had of government employees in any country, and doubly so in Mexico.
I was impressed.