Monday, March 31, 2008

Español para hablar con la sirvienta.

Many thanks to Juana la loca for finding this one - be careful you understand some Spanish before taking lessons. My children can always help with the ruder words.

Friday, March 14, 2008



I finally got the taxi entitlement - but didn't have to do the taxi exam to get it. If you want to know how you'll have to guess, it's not something I'm going to advertise, but it didn't involve bribing anyone.

No more paying for parking at the airport.

I'll be celebrating this weekend.

La atención al cliente no existe en España

Honestly, it's a foreign language to them. You can practically guarantee good service is only provided by extranjeros; argentine waiters, romanian builders, english mechanics etc.

Go into any Carrefour or El Corte Inglés here and you'll see what I mean. Staff who are supposed to be serving customers take a perverse delight in ignoring them and prefer to chat to their colleagues or on their mobile to friends and family or merely pick their noses rather than do the job they're paid for.

The concept that their salary is actually paid by their customers seems to escape them. I remember reading last year that of all Spanish companies that go into the export business, a third have abandoned it after just two years. Probably because they've pissed off their customers so much.

The crap service par excellence is of course provided by any state-run organisation or business. The complaints against Telefónica are legion, having passed into urban legend many years ago. They feature on expat bulletin boards on a monthly basis. However, even they are exceeded by the Health service, Town halls, Tax authorities, in fact any arm of the state.

Now I know why. In spain, to get a public service job you have to sit oposiciones, a sort of board exam. The interview is purpose-designed to weed out any extranjeros that have the temerity to apply. I know because I once applied for an English-speaking role at the local town hall (to deal with the english-speaking ratepayers). Needless to say the job was awarded to a local who could hardly string together a sentence in English, let alone communicate effectively. The impression I was left with was that this is racism by the back door, pretending to offer jobs to foreigners, only to exclude them in biased interviews.

And the photo? A colleague bought a car on French plates. It took 14 months to get the car registered here in Spain involving umpteen visits to the gestor to get it sorted. I even once had to go to Cádiz itself to visit tráfico there to check what the gestor was saying was true - he was lying out of his arse! Needless to say he won't be getting any repeat business or recommendations from me.

Juegos de niños II

As you can see, Charlie is getting creative with her Christmas present (mobile phone). So far none of the children have come back to me asking for a credit top-up, so I guess they're not making many calls.

The only fly in the ointment has been Lulu's phone which did not come with a cable (or Bluetooth). I've been completely unable to find a cable for it so we are still waiting for her photos, and the phone memory is full.

Juegos de niños

With another child's birthday approaching, I have to decide what to buy. Charlie's preferred gift would be a Nintendo DS, but at over 200 euro, it's a non-starter. Besides, we already have a free X-box for them to share, courtesy of the ADSL service we bought a couple of years back.
Charlie will get her second choice, the last in the Harry Potter series of books. This time she specified it had to be in Spanish as she reads it faster. I think all the children like the series judging from the games they play - Charlie's photo is entitled "Hermione contra Ron".

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Otro heroe muere

Although I stopped playing D&D some years ago, my son has started playing thanks to a set of books sent out by "Lawful Good of Cowplain" (even that name is derived from EGG's influence).

His game allowed my imagination to run free, allowed me to get my Chemistry degree (a story for another time) and introduced me to many friends, and indirectly to my wife.

Thanks Gary, I owe you a lot. Rest in peace.

PS: I've been reading the Troll Lord Games bulletin board, so far the Man has warranted 551 replies and over 156,000! views. The board is open at the moment for guest posting if you want to leave your condolences.