Yesterday afternoon, when Nick opened the door to let our ayi in, he was greeted by Liu waving a pink slip of paper in his face, and charading to him what it meant--which didn't work out to well. She kept waving it in the air, then pointing at it, then at him, then pretending to write something and make a phone call..then came more pointing at the slip, followed by more writing, and well, you can see where this is going...
..right to a call to our translator, Irene.
Nick got Irene on the phone, and the Liu on the other end. After some animated and loud conversation ( have I mentioned how loud Liu speaks? She's loud.), Liu passes the phone back to Nick, along with the slip of paper and our translator tells him that it was afixed to our door, and it is from the gas company.
And just what did the gas company want?
They wanted us to write down our gas use for the month.
Yes. That's right.
We monitor our own gas use and tell them how much we used.
We asked our ayi to help us find the meter and she went to the kitchen and started to disassemble our cabinets under the stovetop! After Nick helped her remove a portion of our cabinet, we realized our meter wasn't under the stove. It took 5 minutes and three adults searching--Nick finally found ours outside on the fire escape.
Outside on a fire escape is the perfect place for a gas meter.
Our ayi then takes the slip of paper from Nick and charades that she will take it after he writes down the amount used.
Take it where?
(points to pink slip, then to self, then to door)
Yes, we get that YOU want to take it somewhere, but where?
Another call to the translator, and we are told that our ayi wanted to take it to the gas company for us. Nick explained the the translator that we have our utilities on automatic withdrawl from the bank, and the translator told Nick to call the bank and report with the units of gas used so they can pay it for us.
This will happen monthly..This whole pink slip on the door, and us having to report our own useage to the gas company and bank.
It seems so foreign to me---the trust in us to report the accurate useage, and trust in the bank to enter the correct useage amount and issue payment, etc. At home, a meter man comes and reads our accessible meter monthly and then reports it to the gas company, where they in turn mail us a bill and we pay accordingly.
I was talking to a couple of friends today, about our pink slip ordeal, and we laughed because we all have different experiences with the monthly slips. One girl says the meter man comes to her door and comes in and checks her meter, which is under her stove, and the other girl says she also gets a slip on her door. She writes the amount of use on the slip, and sticks it back on the door. A day or two later, the meter man picks it up and the money is withdrawn from her bank account.
One of these months, we will figure it out.
Thank goodness for translators!