Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Mexico Option


Bruce & Sue On The Beach

Sometime in the near future, my wife and I plan on leaving. Where we will end up we haven’t decided. We just know that we can’t stay here. Phoenix, Arizona is not a good place for your health, physical or mental.

We have a lot of friends that say the same thing. They are just biding their time until they can leave. In fact, we don’t know a single person that actually plans on staying in Phoenix and retiring here. This seems a bit odd, considering that just two years ago this was the second fastest growing city in the country behind Las Vegas. Something must be attracting people here.

There are many reasons why long-term Phoenicians no longer want to stay here. Personally, the reasons that my wife and I have is the hypocrisy of the infrastructure here. Governments and business here claim to have a higher standard than they actually do. This manifests an inability of almost any organization in Arizona to do the simplest task correctly, if at all.

The latest instance of this type of thing occurred yesterday. I had to take part of my day off to pick up a check from Phoenix City Hall. Now mind you, this is my day off from work, and I conservatively consider my time to be at least $40/hr on my days off. I don’t get a lot of them and they are VALUABLE to me.

The check I was to pick up was a refund for some historic preservation work that was done to my mother’s house. My mother past away last year before the work was completed. When it was completed, the city issued the check to my mother....who was deceased.

So I took this check to my bank with my mother's death certificate and a letter showing me as the executor of her estate. The bank would not accept the check. They said that they would not accept it unless it had my name on it.

So we went back to the city and requested that they reissue the check. This had to be approved by a committee and they came back to us stating that they could only issue the check with my mother’s name (since she had entered into the contract with the city), but they could issue it as payable to my mother OR me OR my brother. We agreed to this and they stated they would cut the check and mail it to us.

Months went by and we heard nothing. We contacted the city and they stated they had mailed it, but it never arrived. We requested a stop payment and a new check issued, which we would pickup. They phoned yesterday that the check was ready. I picked it up and noticed that was made out incorrectly. It was made out my mother OR myself AND my bother. This won’t work because my brother lives in a different state and is frequently out of the country. The bank refused to accept it again, so now we have to ask that the check be reissued a third time.

What is the end result? This has taken almost 10 months to resolve and we still are not done. The cost in man hours to my wife and I is probably in excess of $1,000. (Remember that $40/hr figure from above?) The check is for only $4,000.

The issue here isn’t the money. The issue here is that this is the NORM. I have never had any dealings with government or business in this state where this type of red tape and incompetency was NOT the case. Gone are the days when you filled out a form, spoke to a competent individual and a problem was solved or service was rendered correctly.

Yet, we are still told the lie that organizations and civil service are competent and well run.

So this all means that something that used to take 3 hours and $80 to complete or fix, now takes 3 weeks and $800. Yet we are still promised 3 hours and $80. Repeat this scenario four or five times a week, and you understand why everyone wants to leave.

However, I have been around long enough to realize that a lot of this is just perception. It isn’t that everyone else is incompetent. The problem is that my expectations of others ability to do their jobs correctly is too high. I should learn to expect less and be happy as a clam if anything gets done all! This appears to be the mindset that I am supposed to have. Unfortunately, it isn’t the mindset that my parents instilled in me when I was growing up. They taught me that there is always a better way of doing things if we just work hard and think. I am not yet willing to give up those lessons that they taught me. I remember the days when things DID work and I miss them.

Which is why the wife and I have been contemplating the Mexico option. We go to Mexico often and we love it more each time we go and find it harder and harder to come back when the vacation is over.

It isn’t that Mexico is any better run than Phoenix, Arizona. In fact, if anything it is run worse and is a bit more corrupt than the United States. But they have one thing going for them what we don’t. They don’t have higher expectations. For them, it is a good day when the car starts and you don’t have a tooth ache. If their day ends with a cold beer and a shrimp cocktail, it was a good day. They know that most things don't work and they are OK with that.

Better to live in a place where everyone expects nothing, than in a place where everyone expects something and gets nothing.