Several months ago, while watching Humphrey Bogart outsmart Leo G. Robinson, I turned to my Captured Tourist Woman and said, “I hate our couch.”
Over the years I have learned that most Mexican furniture is built for devout Catholics who wish to do painful penitence while uncomfortably seated at home. She responded with, “Then go find something more suitable for your whiny little bum.”
So the very next day I set out on my quest for a couch.
I soon discovered any new furniture which was remotely comfortable would require enough pesos to fund the next revolution; I would have to settle for segunda mano. With a quick online search I found a leather hide-a-bed sofa for an amount so affordable I could give up washing windshields in my attempt to acquire furniture funding.
The couch was delightfully comfortable as well as being dangerously heavy. The move was from a third-floor condo to the second floor of our humble abode. Having moved a couple of hide-a-beds in my dark and distant past, I knew the task would not be easy.
I carefully measured the sofa to be sure it could be maneuvered up our staircase with its 180-degree turn in the middle. I did not bother to measure the condo doorway or stairwell because the seller assured me it went up just fine — with five guys.
After calling several moving companies and receiving quotes that made new furniture, with free delivery, look very attractive, I finally found a friend of a friend’s neighbor with a truck willing to do the move. I clearly explained it was a seven-foot hide-a-bed and quite heavy; around 160 kilos.
When moving day came, Pedro showed up with his one-ton stake bed truck but with only one friend to help. Both Pedro and his friend were about five feet nine inches, and maybe 150 pounds, and they had more obvious tattoos than apparent muscle but they only cost 800 pesos.
I felt if they could pull it off without destroying my only piece of comfortable furniture while avoiding crushing one or both of them, they would damn well earn every centavo of their fee.
We arrived at the third-floor condo, entered and gathered around the puffy piece of leather furniture. The seller of the couch looked at the two diminutive Mexican men and asked the obvious question: “Where are the rest of them?”
Undaunted by our rye comments that questioned their strength, Pablo reached down and grabbed one end of the couch and lifted. He managed to get it waist high before returning it to the floor. Pedro looked us in the eye and exclaimed, “No hay pedo” (slang for no problem).
It is times like this I admire the macho attitude of Mexican men. Even when face to face with a situation that could result in hospital time, these people show no fear.
The leather behemoth squeezed through the door of the condo without too much trouble and then descended the stairwell with rest stops at each landing. By the time we reached the truck the faces of both men looked slightly sunburned.
The real problems started when we reached my front door. Having assumed the door would be a standard size for an entry, I never bothered to measure the opening. Having been in Mexico for longer than 15 minutes, I should have known there is no such thing as standard anything in this country.
OK, I will just remove the door and the frame and all will be fine. It was then I discovered the door frame had been installed before the floor tile and was firmly held by several inches of concrete, topped by the tile.
At this point I gave the movers half of their hard-earned money and told them to come back in four hours. Since I didn’t have a reciprocating saw with a 12-inch blade to cut the frame at the floor, I broke out my Makita roto hammer and destroyed the tile with the underlying concrete slab. “No hay pedo.”
The next challenge was to remove the antique screws which held the jam into place. The fact that all the screw slots were frightfully damaged meant removing them without the aid of a screwdriver. If I had possessed a reciprocating saw with a 12-inch metal cutting blade the screw problem would have been easily solved. However, I do possess an assortment of chisels, as well as a five-pound hammer. “No hay pedo.”
As I was cursing myself for the lack of the single tool that could have removed the door frame in a matter moments, and cursing the moron that buried the door jams in six inches of concrete, and cursing the pendejo that chewed the slots out of six screws, I felt my pulse rate increasing and the darkness of pure rage descending upon what’s left of my soul.
I suddenly realized I was in the throes of a full-blown attack of Gringo Anxiety Disorder. I fell back to my many hours of conditioning in the Acme Expat Immersion Therapy & Attitude Modification Program. Thanks to Acme, I immediately perceived the couch/door drama as becoming a therapeutically significant opportunity to strengthen my cultural understanding.
After a few deep breaths, a cold Pacífco and a couple of shots of tequila, I found myself standing in the huaraches of a common Mexican construction worker. Removing the door jam with only the tools at hand was the proper Mexican course of action.
When Pedro returned and viewed the well chewed hole into my house, he clapped me on the shoulder and exclaimed, “That’s good Mexican work for a pinche gringo.”
The rest of the move was trouble-free and the couch was put in place. When I rested my huarache-clad feet on a hassock, I felt the warm glow of my inner Mexican — or it could have been the tequila. Either way, no hay pedo.
Bodie Kellogg describes himself as a very middle-aged man who lives full-time in Mazatlán with a captured tourist woman and the ghost of a half wild dog. If you wish to give him cold beer, large sacks of money or a piece of your mind, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.