Ol’Jack has had one of those weeks. You know, not when there’s a major disaster, but when there seems to be dozens of small irritations. For example, I’m driving my fairly new Hyundai Tucson (pronounced “Took-san” down here in Panama) along a narrow street in Casco Antiquo when I encounter a large Toyota Prado (which means “big butt “in the local dialect) sticking out from a not very tight parking job. As I squeeze around, I hear a strange scraping sound from the other side. Well, what do you know—part of the new improved sidewalk plan included installing a brand new fire hydrant with a nozzle that sticks approximately two inches past the curb into the roadway. Upon further inspection, it was clear from the different smudges of blue, green and white on the red hydrant that I wasn’t the first (nor will I be the last) to tear a hole in my fender.
Not long after that, my new smart phone (yes I’ve acquired some up-to-date stuff) suddenly, spontaneously decided that it would refuse to provide outgoing service, which it reported was disengaged. Yeah, I turned it off and on again; removed and replaced the battery and even borrowed a phone to call my provider’s helpline to inform them that I have indeed paid my bill. The voice on the customer-friendly automated answering system spoke so rapidly that my limited Spanish was rendered useless. So I just randomly pushed numbers until we ran out of options. I was reduced to making plans to drop by the office to wait until Easter for my number to come up. Inexplicably, right before I was scheduled to drive into the city from the mountains, I checked the phone and was able to make calls. What were they doing? Just messing with me?
Ol’Jack decided to treat himself, though there was no real sense of accomplishment, by going down to the local Chino’s to buy some ice cream. Yes, I had heard there was an extreme ice cream shortage due to a factory overhaul by the company that provides 80% of the ice cream that we consume, but hey my phone magically started working again, so anything was possible. As I approached the freezer chest, the proprietor, a Chinese/Panamanian guy, held up his pointer finger as if signaling the number one and then wagged it back and forth letting me know “not so fast buster.”
When I got home with two six packs but no ice cream, my lovely wife, who was doing a wash, informed me that the water had gone off.