OK, before I even check my email let me relate my most recent adventure at the border. I had left over 24 hours before, in order to be in La Mesa early to pick up my mail. It's been raining pretty steadily the whole time in most of Southern Cal and Baja. Sets the stage for a miserable time.

So anyway, I had arranged with a guy on Craigslist to buy his computer for $60. Way up in Escondido. This time I had smartened up; instead of going along the coast, I took the number 20 express to North County Fair, and then the 350 to the Escondido station. Much, much faster, and for the same price, since I had had to buy a day pass anyway (which they call a "Day Tripper" -- that's California for ya).

On the way back, I was already going over border crossing scenarios. I knew these crooked fuckers already and was pretty sure they'd try something. I probably subconsciously helped to trigger the events due to that; but anyway here goes. I'm passing the droid at the desk. Very slight drizzle at this point, almost unnoticeable, but not much foot traffic. Too little. He tells me to stop. Asks me what that is (I had covered it with a sweater to protect it from the dampness). "Un computer. Viejo". "How much?" "Forty dollars." (Well, it was $40 today -- I had prepaid $20). He didn't like that answer. He took his flashlight and signaled his accomplice. I went over to the other droid's desk and waited.

Soon he swaggered out of the office. Same questions, same answers. But I was already pissed. He's telling me, in quite good English, something like, "Well, it's not what you paid for it, it's what the CPU is worth..." I cut him off. I said "that's only if you bring more than one. This is just one. And you've been drinking tequila."

I had thought that over for all of 7 or 8 milliseconds. He could have taken it any number of ways, but two were most likely. He might have been angered, and decided to look over all my stuff: in which case he would have found my PDA and my customer's PDA which I had picked up with my mail. And the brazing torch I had bought for $30, plus some other stuff. And he could have taken all of it, and there wasn't jack I could have done. Or he could have thrown me in jail or prison and thrown away the key. But no, he took it the way I must have subconsciously hoped. He was shocked and a little ashamed, and possibly even a little afraid. "Nooooo...", he said. Pause. "Where are you going to sell... what purpose is this for?" "For my own use, in my own place in Rosarito." He swaggered back in with a little less confidence. And shortly came out, rather cheerily, and told me I was free to go; explaining that it wasn't tequila, it was Rolling Rock, "good American beer". I was not amused. I picked up my computer and hiked out of there. I didn't breathe for another block. I was all prepared for the Ros taxi to overcharge me too, but no, only $12 pesos, one more than normal. About right for 8 PM or so. After midnight it can go to 25, 30, or even more. Still chump change compared to the tourist taxis, but I would never take those anyway. And I only had about US$1.55 in my pocket, so if he'd said any more than $16 pesos, I would have had to go looking for an ATM, in the rain, carrying a heavy old computer.

So I lucked out. Here I am, back in Rosarito with an XP system, plus the one I bought at the Red Cross for less than $10 bucks the other day, of which I don't yet know how much works, and the monitor I picked up off the street, which after all works fine; I hadn't noticed that all the computer's cards had been jostled out of their sockets while carrying it back. I've changed out of my soaked shoes into dry shoes and socks, and am now going to check the 8 emails in my inbox. Talk to ya later.

Back to blog or home page

last updated 2013-01-10 20:33:21. served from tektonic.jcomeau.com