So you may remember back in March when I canceled evil Telefónica's internet service that wasn't and got NET instead.
Well, if you were surprised that I was able to end ties with Telefónica that easily, then you were right to feel that way. Of course, no one has actually canceled our account. Every month, we get a bill for internet that we never had, for a modem we never received. Every month, I call and explain that we canceled the request for service because there was never any service; so therefore I'd like to cancel the bill and make sure there's no open account in our name. And every month we get another bill. And the cycle repeats!
In an attempt to stop the cycle, Alexandre and I went to the physical Telefónica store. When I went in there originally, they had told me that they don't do anything with sales; and they don't deal with customer service for their internet service (so what do they do there, exactly?). But Professor Alexandre, intent on giving me a cultural lesson so I won't have to depend on him for these things anymore, told me that we would go over there anyway.
My cultural lesson from watching Alexandre's exchange with the Telefónica robots was that, when someone tells you "No, I can't do that," or "No, I can't help you," or "No, that won't work," you're supposed to just blatantly ignore them, not take no for an answer, and ask again nicely as if you hadn't heard them. So when the girl says, "I can't call the central branch for you; in this store, we don't do anything with accounts that are only internet," I'm apparently supposed to say, "OK, so can you please call the central branch? Thanks!" And just keep going in that circle until she short-circuits and makes the call.
Sometimes, the robots pick up on your technique, and try making up excuses, like, "My phone doesn't work," or "the lady at the central office says her internet is down, and will be for the next 30 minutes." So the second part of my cultural lesson was that, apparently, you're supposed to play along, not call them on their obvious lie, and insist that you'll just sit right there at her desk and wait until things work again.
So apparently, when these people are at their place of work, it's common and acceptable for them to insist that they are unable to do a job that they are, in fact, able to do, and paid to do.
The problem is hopefully solved. We ended up getting sent over to a slightly more alert Telefónica drone, who Alexandre sweet-talked until she got on the phone with the central office (she had a different, secret phone number that suddenly appeared), and they said they had canceled the account for real this time. We're supposed to go back on Monday (it was only 48 hours, which would mean we would go back tomorrow, but, you know, people need another 4-day weekend, because the one a couple of months ago wasn't enough), and on Monday, this same Telefónica drone will apparently be able to tell us if the account is canceled or not.
To entertain myself during the ordeal (which wasted about 2 hours of our afternoon, all told), I imagined other alternative scenarios. My favorite daydream was an image of me running around the store in a fit, screaming and turning in circles and breaking and smashing everything in sight. Once spent, I would run to the door, holding on to the frame for support, heaving in rage, and I would shout, "AND THE WORD IS PRONOUNCED SPEEEE-DEEEE!!!!!!!!!" and then I would make my grand exit.
Hopefully the account was actually canceled, and things won't have to come to that.
I've been trying to apply this cultural lesson to another problem I've having in the world of translations. A client whose book I finished back in MARCH still owes me 1,000 reais for the translation. He is the king of enrolação, which I translate as avoidance/slacking off/putting off/dawdling/dragging things out (you pick one!). He thinks that if he just avoids me enough, moves the payment date one more week, that I'll eventually give up. Sorry Mister, but 1000 reais is a lot of freaking money, and you're not going to get out of paying me that easily. He teaches at a small university, so a quick internet search revealed the phone number of his boss, the dean of the school. I changed up the story just a little, played dumb, and used Alexandre's sweet-talking techniques. I said things like "I'm just so confused, because he asked for this translation of a book from the university; so I found a phone number to the university in his email signature and got bounced around to you; I'm so sorry to bother you, sir, I know this wasn't your doing, but do you have any ideas on how I could solve this problem?" The man was super receptive and clearly took the situation seriously, so hopefully he'll be able to embarrass Mr. Enrolação into paying. If not, rest assured that his name, the name of his book, and the name of their university will be on this blog, along with the sites where he's trying to sell the book in Portuguese so you guys can all log in and leave bad reviews. In this fantasy, his boss shares my values for principles, and for going by your word, and will threaten to fire him if he doesn't pay me.
Fighting for justice, one daydream at a time!!