more presses stamp in ink pad, gets up, goes away...........and comes back
with 5 SHEETS of raffle tickets. It appears this company prints them. So
not only did I leave a sample ticket & the exact size required........they
have THOUSANDS of the things.
I enquire as
to why the error. 'New man' making stamps. New man is summoned &
he & jefe have a discussion. New man says he will make another
stamp immediately. Not so fast, I say.
I ask new man,
in Spanish, to explain to me why the error. Shoulder shrugging. Silly me,
wrong question. I ask if he understands WHAT the error is. Jefe
sits forward on his chair, all agog, to listen to new man.
mumbles through his embarrassment that he knows what error is. Good, I
say, what is it? New man looks beseechingly at jefe for help. Jefe
sits even further forward. By this time the rest of the work force have
downed tools & are assuming the role of audience participants. I'm
waiting for your answer, I say. Eventually new man looks at his boots &
says stamp is too big.
roar, clapping him on arm, you are correct. Indeed it is. Now, señor,
one more question....why is it too big when you had the ticket size
provided by me, nay, when YOU print the tickets, every day, for weeks?
Well, it went
on a bit & eventually new man scuttled away, vastly relieved I think
that I wasn't going to damage his marriage prospects, on top of having
made him lose face. Jefe told me I had every justification etc etc which
lead into a discussion of how he could make his staff accountable for their
work. During the course of which, the new plate was made (it is a 10
guessed it, we now need a smaller wooden base to put it on..............Monday
4th, he said.
to place a bet on Monday 4th?
It wasn't ready.
The man who
makes the wooden bases didn't want to work at the weekend. Jefe says there
is only one man in Puerto Plata who makes these bases. Last March jefe
bought 300 bases of different sizes from a man up from Moca, but he hasn't
been up again since March. We have an empathic 'where do you get the staff
these days' chat.
pass over the 5th. 6th & 7th. October!
8th. It is ready. It is attached to its base. It is the correct size. IT
WORKS! 'Carramba', 'Ay Dios MIO' etc etc this time in tones of exultant
Moral of the
story - I was of a sunny disposition throughout because I don't actually
NEED the stamp until Christmas. Forward planning. Damage control.
There was no urgency for me. That wouldn't have been new man's understanding,
of course & he wasn't there on Friday 8th. for some inexplicable reason..........
So, a ten minute
job took some two and a half weeks. By Dominican standards, that is not
bad. Bad would be three months. It is all a matter of perspective.
New & potential
residents, start early, it will get done eventually. Never lose your cool,
or if you pretend to, let them know afterwards that it was 'pretend'. I
have made a new friend in jefe & his wife, he has hopefully learned
something about staff management, she has assuredly learned something about
being assertive. Jefe thinks I am TOTALLY knowledgeable about the
print business. I'm not, but it doesn't do any harm...............................
There is a
follow up to all of this. My other half and I pondered the shortage of
these wooden bases and the somewhat casual work practices of the one and
only person in Puerto Plata who makes them. My other half is a golfer and
recent changes made by the new management at the golf club mean that prices
have gone up noticeably for players, who are no longer obliged to take
a caddy with them when they play.
inevitably, is fewer players and less use of the caddies. So the caddies
sit around at the caddy shack, hopefully waiting for a punter and in the
meanwhile doing...............well, nothing. These wooden bases for the
stamps are hand made and very low tech. All that is required is a piece
of wood, a knife, and later some sanding and varnishing. Something which
caddies sitting around a caddy shack could easily manage.
We went with
one of the caddies for an impromptu visit to jefe in his print shop. In
fact everything is impromptu here. You just turn up. If they're not there
you go back later. I introduced my other half to jefe and he explained
his idea of piece work for the caddies, making the wooden bases, so
they could earn some money whilst they weren't caddying. He then left the
caddy with jefe to sort out payment details. You don't want a gringo interfering
in a business negotiation between two Dominicans! Hopefully this will meet
both jefe's need for bases and the caddies need for some cash.
If both follow
through, of course, and in this culture you can't take that for granted!
is Ginnie's first article for the magazine: