Saturday, October 01, 2016

Pontevedra Pensées: 1.10.16


Drivers v. Pedestrians: Here's a funny thing . . . I've cited the zebra-crossing-risk several times and implied that Spanish drivers can be very inconsiderate. Against this, I've found that, when I cross a busy road where there's no crossing and stand in the middle, a proportion of drivers will stop to let me finish crossing. Even where there's no island in the middle of the road. This is particularly true where there are pedestrian lights and the light is green for drivers but red for pedestrians. Maybe it's a reflection of the Spanish admiration for rule-breakers. Unless they're gypsies, of course.

Consideration of Others: I've also suggested this is not the most prominent of Spanish characteristics. Here's an example I saw in a supermarket carpark yesterday:-

Since the car was there for at least 3 hours, my guess is it belongs to the supermarket manager.

Bureaucracy: Yesterday, two of my friends – one Dutch and one Spanish – complained to me of this. The former sent me a list of ridiculous demands made by an office in Vigo which annually checks whether he's still a good parent for the 14 year old Ethiopian boy he and his late wife adopted 10 years ago. It makes for some reading. As it happens, I had my own clash with bureaucracy yesterday . . . I went to the Tax Office again, to deliver my written appeal against their fine for late payment. Stretching things a tad, I calculate there were 26 steps to this process, starting from when I arrived at the building:-
  1. I enter the offices and pass through security for the 3rd time this week
  2. I proceed to Room 2 and to the desk of the chap I spoke to on Tuesday
  3. As he's not there, I go behind the screens to find him at another desk.I tell
  4.  him I've brought the letter of appeal, as he instructed, and offer it to him.
  5. He tells me I have to take it to the Registry and they will pass it to him
  6. I leave Room 2 and go to the Registry
  7. I seek a ticket from the machine, even though there's no one there except the guy behind the Reception desk.
  8. I get the ticket and ask him what next
  9. He tells me to go out into the hall and wait for my number to be called
  10. I do so and, as there's no one else there, this happens immediately
  11. I am summoned by voice to Desk 20 in Room 1, where there are, in fact, only 5 desks. And no other 'customers'.
  12. I wait for the clerk to stop talking to her colleague
  13. I hand her my letter
  14. She takes it and removes the staple
  15. She replaces the staple with a large paperclip
  16. She records something on her computer
  17. She asks me if I have a copy of the letter
  18. I say that I have but it's at home
  19. I offer an envelope or a sheet of paper for her to stamp or whatever it is that proves receipt
  20. She says this won't do and she has to put a sticker on a copy of my letter
  21. To my surprise, she doesn't send me away but goes to the machine and makes a copy
  22. She returns to her desk, asks her colleague for a stapler and staples the 2 pages together
  23. She then places a yellow sticker on this copy of my letter.
  24. She gives me the letter with the sticker on it
  25. I think to myself “I can surely take that off and stick it on the original copy I have at home”.
  26. I don't say this out loud but thank her and leave.
Call me misguided, but I think that Steps 1-4 should have been enough, along with the guy giving me a sticker and me saying Thank-you and leaving.


The PSOE Party: You have to laugh. The Andalucian Presidenta who's doing a good impression of being as ambitious as they come, has pronounced that the leader she's trying to oust – Pedro Sanchez - should have the country as his first priority, the party as his second, and his own position as very much his third. Needless to say, she's offered herself as embalmer of the party's wounds she's largely responsible for. In all this, she's being assisted – for reasons which aren't obvious to me – by the discredited ex President - and fellow Andalucian - Felipe González. Who has publicly accused Sanchez of being a liar and a deceiver, inter alia. We now await to see if a scheduled party congress and a leadership election take place shortly. As with Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, Sanchez is thought to have the support of the membership at large. So the rebels are out to stop this election taking place. Such fun. Only Leftish parties can commit hari-kari so effectively. Something, I suspect, to do with each group thinking it has both the moral high ground and the best electoral chances. By the way, while this is going on, the Catalans are moving towards a referendum on secession next year. Whatever Madrid says or threatens.

But, anyway, here's a range of Spanish views on what's happening in/to the PSOE.


Corruption: Given the sums of money at stake, it was only a matter of time before tales would emerge of skulduggery in high places. As they have done recently. And then there's the current Barroso saga. Which makes it rather a bad moment for Brussels to tell Spain how disgusted it is about corruption here.

Banking: Here's yet another article on the crisis. I have to admit/boast that I'd already had the thought that these developments would reduce the chances of a continental bank - post Brexit – replacing London as the world's premier financial centre. To be perfectly honest, I fell over laughing when I read that the capital of this astonishingly corrupt country was pitching for the biz. As if! First prize for chutzpah.


Flights to Galicia: I mentioned recently there's be some Monarch flights next summer. This rather assumes there'll still be a Monarch airline at that time. Reports yesterday and today suggest this might not be the case. You might want to hold off advance bookings. . .


Rail Accidents: It's reported that the relevant train and track companies had been warned that the risk at the bend near Santiago where 79 people died 2 years ago was 53 times higher than average. And that the train which crashed at Porriño last month was being used to check whether a points problem of the previous evening had been solved. Nonetheless, I don't expect to see any corporations or company executives in the dock for negligence. Contrast the Alton Towers case in the UK this week. Here it's always some poor individual's fault. Preferably a dead ex-driver who can't defend himself.


Gmail: Has anyone discovered how to easily give a response the same label as the incoming message? As far as I know, the only way to do this is to give the original message a label; draft a reply; remove the label; and then add it back as the label for the reply. This works but it seems bizarre it has to be done. If you don't do it, the reply has no label.


More examples of Finnish/British nightmares:-


Perry said...

Looking at the photo of the car, the wall to the left of the left hand bay looks tall enough to prevent the driver exiting his vehicle, were the car parked within the painted lines.

When I was in Flagstaff, Arizona in 1982, a significant number of cars were parked in like manner in the hotel car park. I was informed these were new cars & their owners did not want any little dings from car doors. I did not bother to point out the obvious solution.

Colin Davies said...

So the driver could have parked in the RH bay. Yes, the new car strategy is common in underground 'parkings' here. I'm always tempted to key them.

Maria said...

Yes, I know about the agency in Vigo that checks up on adopted kids, not that it's much more than a building with desks and chairs where people are paid just to go through the motions. There is a couple that live near here that adopted three kids from Ethiopia, two brothers and a sister. What the office in Vigo never saw, or wanted to see, was that the girl was being psychologically abused. I don't know why, perhaps the parents had only wanted boys but were forced to keep the siblings together. At any rate, things came to a head when the girl ran to a neighbor's last December and denounced her parents for abuse. Nothing came of it, though. The judge ruled it a simple family spat. The girl went back home. When she turned 18 and finished ESO this June, she had wanted to continue studying in FP but her parents argued it would be too expensive. (They won the Christmas lottery when it fell in Rianxo.) She found a job as a waitress, and eventually was forced to leave the house thanks to her parents' psychological mistreatment. Now she's living with the mother of one of her best friends, with a future so uncertain as to be absolutely black.

Bureaucracy in this country tends to go after those that don't give problems. Those that might be problematical are left alone. Too much paperwork and extra time if someone really has to be investigated.

Ferrolano said...

As for the 22 superfluous steps at the tax office, remember that it all makes work for the working man to do!

Alfred B. Mittington said...

Allow me to give you my take on two subjects in today's fine blog.

Cars driving on over zebra crossings, but stopping for misplaced pedestrians: I think this has to do with the basic psychology of the collective. As we are all aware, Spaniards rather enjoy ignoring or bending the rules, because on the whole they dislike being told what to do. So if they feel obliged to follow a set rule, they often shrug and do whatever pleases them. But on the other hand, Spaniards very much wish to do others a favor, as they are a generous nation. So if they see you lingering dangerously in the middle of the road, their first impulse is to save you from your plight, and be a Good Samaritan. You won't get much of that in Germany or Paris, where drivers consider it your own dumb fault for putting yourself at risk, and f*** you.

Then the civil war in the PSOE: one very important aspect of this is the fear of the Balkanization of Spain. Andalusia largely lives off state subsidies which ultimate derive from the extra taxes paid by the rich northern autonomies of Catalonia and Basque Country. Within the PSOE there is a considerable section, which I suspect Mr Zapatero and Mr Sanchez to belong to, which would consider being more tolerant of the attempts at separation by these two autonomies; in the present case by entering upon a coalition with the very pro-referendum Podemos party. Naturally the Andalusian branch of the Socialist party is wary of taking such risks, as it would choke off their food stamps. Consequently, it is not so much of a surprise that the Felipistas take a shot at Mr Sanchez; the surprise is that it took them so long to try to kick him out…

Yours, ABM

Colin Davies said...

For once I agree with you, I've run up a flag.

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