paying for good service/negotiating

This article in Fast Company mentioned this concept briefly this week, and of course it’s kind of a classic idea in business and, if I may, in US culture. We will pay extra for good service. That’s what the article said, but I think the We in this sense is people from the United States. Sure a lot of other people too, but don’t think I would make that generalization about humanity overall.

I guess it was innately ingrained in me that OF COURSE good service is worth extra money. I worked in retail, and other customer service jobs, including waitressing. It took maybe until my early twenties to realize that I too considered the extra money well spent if it included good service. Not to say that I would always shell out– generally I look for places that will give me good customer service as an added value. I haven’t had a lot of extra money during my life. But sometimes, when I see that it is really good service, or I feel like treating myself, or I just don’t feel like risking bad customer service, I will pay for the good stuff.

I only became aware of this as possibly a cultural thing first when I lived in the UK and was consistently offended at shitty service. And my friends were like, “Lower your expectations. You’re not in ‘America.’ People don’t tip that well here.” And then here in Mexico. An ex-boyfriend was trying to get his export business off the ground and met up with me after a meeting with a Mexican-American broker from Houston: “He gave me some really good advice. He told me that gringos will pay for better service.”

I was like, pff. “Duh.” But I was actually in a way proud that this had been the advice from one Mexican to another in dealing with my people. And moreso because my boyfriend also seemed to respect it. It’s worth it to pay someone to do a good job.

And this is something that I keep realizing here– that a lot of people here don’t seem to have that expectation. I have a lot of friends here who are from a different [higher] economic class than I am, and more often than you might expect they are the ones telling me I pay too much for services. (Maids, the doorman I hired for my birthday party.) I am also sometimes shocked at how little people offer to pay me for things, and even more shocked when they are surprised to be turned down. That could be a different story I guess, but my point is– I take for granted that it’s worth it to pay people well, as long as they’re honest, because they will care more about doing a good job if they know you value it. A lot of people don’t seem to think that is kind of a cornerstone of adult life like I do?

Another aspect of this, I guess just how big of a gringa I am, came across yesterday. I was taking a taxi in Estado de Mexico, where taxis are quite a bit pricier than in DF because they don’t take fares off the street. I got a promise of a fair-enough rate for a ten- or twelve-minute ride, 50 pesos. I told the dispatcher and the driver where I was going – Sexta Sección, Altavitta – but as we got to Sexta Sección, it turned out that Altavitta was not there, only near there. So we got a little bit turned around, no more than four or five minutes though. And the whole while the guy was doing that Mexican sigh “oooh” thing, I guess a sort of tsk tsk equivalent, giving you warning that they consider you to have been in the wrong, basically.

We were going from the bottom right corner of this map to the top left, basically – the Carl’s Junior at the junction to near La Cúspide, which is a mall. Sexta Sección, a housing development, is on the right side of the Superavenida Lomas Verdes, and Altavitta, a set of high-rise apartment towers, is on the left.

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fines (multas)

Just reminded of this by Twitter. I’m following a bunch of government organizations for this new project I am working on. The following is a tweet by the DF Police, retweeted by the Secretaría del Medio Ambiente del DF:

por SMA_AmbienteDF
Recuerde que Esta Prohibido Estacionarse En las calles del Centro Histórico de la Ciudad, las Multas van a Partir de 10 dias de Salario Min

“Remember that it’s prohibited to park in the streets of the Centro Histórico. Minimum fines start at 10 days’ salary.”

Rather than flat rates, the city bases punitive fines on the offender’s monthly earnings. I will try to photograph a sign sometime.

[NOTE: thanks to two commenters below for clarifying it’s 10 DAY’S WORTH OF [current] MINIMUM WAGE (hence, “salario min”), not minimum 10 day’s wages, as I had interpreted. Slightly less interesting, though as K says the low amount that turns out to be– see C’s link– is probably worth a discussion.]

back exercises

Today was my last day of physical therapy. And my first day with a new trainee (I go to the Cruz Roja Mexicana in Polanco, a training hospital). She gave me the best massage ever, without even asking me any questions, just knowing what my injury was. My other therapist was good, but she never did this in my 19 other sessions. This chick nailed everything that the real trainer therapist had not managed to focus on despite my trying to tell her.

I should have looked up the Spanish word for “shoulder blade” sooner I guess (éscapula— it would have been cool if I had known the Latin even).

Anyway, note to self. I also want to figure which gym to join here in DF. I want one with a pool and a sauna that isn’t superexpensive. Thinking the YMCA (“el güay”) might meet these criterion.

Locust pose, + Cobra pose (updog), child’s pose, mountain pose, windmill pose

Exercises to strengthen the multifidus muscle.

on the water tip

Nestlé recommends trading water like other commodities

Kind of freaked out by the concept of this… just thinking about jerks manipulating the market, but I guess they do anyway. I remember I lived in Northern Ireland when they started charging for water as a utility there. Ireland, one of the greenest countries on the planet, is that way because it gets a lot of rain, and water had previously been free. People were pissed with the change of course. But after about 30 seconds thinking about it I realized water is probably literally the last thing in the world people should be unwilling to pay for.

Not sure if that “economics” rationale should extend to Gordon Gekko or whatever, though. And I would probably take any recommendation from Nestlé on this matter lightly.

palabra del día: pepenador

Avanzan negociones entre GDF y pepenadores.

Pepenador = trash picker. This news item from last week reports that with the pending closure of one of Mexico City’s landfills, at the end of 2011, trash pickers were blocking the plant’s entrances in protest of the fact that they had not been approached by the city governors about their job security. The government has since assured them that they will be able to retain their jobs via compost management.

I’m reading this as part of work I’m doing to put together a report on opportunities to sell clean technologies to Mexico. I think my favorite part of clean technology is definitely still recycling or waste management or whatever you want to call it. Just for the sheer neatness of reducing waste. I hate wasting stuff. In my head I have this word “pepenar” (literally “to scavenge”) as DUMPSTER DIVING!

Most of my home in the United States was furnished with items cast off by their original owners. Including my favorite piece, a large, framed Frank Stella print advertising a 1979 exhibition of his work in Tel Aviv. Yep, totally found that in an alleyway by some trash receptacles… one of the coolest things about the US, one of the things I miss the most, is scavenging. Thrift stores, basically. Such good pickens.

Here it’s obviously a bit different for pepenadores.