16 April 2014

Shaking My Head

We have made some steps forward! Yay! Turns out that the letting agent attempted to upload a copy of our signed lease agreement to some website. I dutifully created a password, logged in and found...nothing. There was a 0 next to my name. There was no lease agreement to be found, no matter which of the two or three links we clicked on. Off we went to her office. I was frustrated and angry, so I waited outside. I did not trust myself to not say something I would regret. One thing is for sure, I am finding room for improvement in terms of trying to live in equanimity.

Bill went in because the door was slightly ajar--he paid no heed to the sign that said the office was closed between 1 and 2 for lunch. The office is on a corner and I stood there watching the spectacle of people trying to maneuver their vehicles through a weird intersection. I looked up and saw a large truck with the blinker on and I realized that he probably did not want to make the turn with me standing there--many trucks and cars just take the corner by going up on the curb (or kerb, as it’s spelled here, I guess). I walked around the corner and stood under an awning where I continued to watch the traffic. I recently read that Ireland is tied with Portugal for the most traffic accidents in western Europe. This does not surprise me in the least. What does surprise me--and I commented to Bill about this on about day 3--is that you do not see dented cars on the streets. They must get them fixed pretty quick.

Bill came out of the office and said that there was a copy of the lease down at the blue building across from the shoe store--some kind of gift shop. Apparently the shop is owned by the landlord’s sister or something like that. The agent had contacted the landlord by phone and told him that we needed a copy of the agreement. She also told him that we need another set of keys. He has plans to provide these “soon.” I do believe that I am seeing some of the “laid back” behavior some Irish folks have told me about. I wondered aloud to Bill what might happen if, instead of actually paying the rent when it’s due, I just said I would get to it “soon.” At least we now understand better what we are dealing with--and it’s nothing I have not dealt with before.

We got the lease and stood on the sidewalk looking at it to see of any contact info for the guy had been added. Nope. There was point after point about our responsibilities and what issues require us to contact the landlord, but there was no information on how to do that. Bill went back to the office. She looked up his number on her phone and wrote it down. I think that Bill was correct when he told me that she is now “in our rearview mirror.” Oddly enough, by then I felt the need to come to her defense. She could not believe the guy had not given us the hard copy or the keys, and had neglected to put contact info anywhere. She is not a laid back kind of person. I did not enjoy being around her, but I can see that being the kind of person she is, it must be difficult for her to deal with people who do not have the ability to get things done in a timely manner and/or who just don’t give a crap.

He also inquired about the internet while he was there the second time. The fact that it was listed as something that came with the apartment meant that the connection was there if we want to utilize it. There are many ways in which this is misleading and illogical, but I will save that for another post. I assumed that was the case, so it did not surprise or upset me in any way--I was just glad to have an answer.

We went home to talk about what to do next. Before coming upstairs, we stopped in at the flower shop around the corner where we were told we should deposit our garbage. We introduced ourselves to the owner (who is also a Burke) and she asked us who we were renting from. When we told her, she said, “Oh that’s alright then. Sure, just put your trash in our bins on a Tuesday morning or come down anytime and put it in the bins.” Then she took us out back and showed us which ones. At least that was an easy and straightforward answer. We are concerned, however, about the lack of recycling options--that is something we will have to look into if we ever get connected.

We came upstairs and had some water. We discussed internet options and decided to go to the Vodaphone shop on Main St--we will probably go with them once we get our bank account set up (now that we have the lease, we can look into that). It will take 4-6 weeks (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) to set this up, but they have stuff they do to allow temporary service while we wait--for up to a month and a half. It is hard to know which company to go with--people seem to just take Eircom by default, but our experience with them at the BnB and the local library has been unimpressive.

Our last stop for the day was the library with our proof of address in hand. Time to get library cards! Er, make that library CARD. Bill walked up and said we’d like to apply for library cards. I already had my passport out as proof of ID. The most helpful and polite librarian got out a piece of paper and told him to fill it out. She asked if we didn’t want visitors’ passes. “No,” I said, “We live here.”  “Will you each be wantin’ your own cards, then, or just the one? Maybe you just need the one because you can check out up to 8 books at one time on the one card.” She repeated the 8 books at one time thing a few times in a tone that made it seem like this was an enormous and impressive number. Bill looked at me uncertainly. I sort of shook my head and we went off to fill out the form. I put my passport away. “Don’t you want your own card?" he asked. “She seemed pretty flustered and I don’t want to cause her any more distress. Let’s just do this. There’s not much to check out anyway," I replied. When he brought the form back to the desk and she was processing everything, we realized that she was probably trying to save us money, because the card cost 3 euro.  And it is true that if people were allowed to check out much more than 8 at a time, the entire collection of this particular library would be wiped out. It’s small. I prepared for this possibility as best as I was able--my Nook contains 486 books. I have a few I picked up at the charity shop the other day and the couple I managed to bring with me. I will have reading material. I have a feeling, though, that my days of listening to books podcasts and hopping over to the library page to place holds is over for the time being. Bill was looking up the Co Mayo system while we were still at the BnB and the way he understood it, every ILL request will cost 5 euro at a minimum.  Anyway, perhaps tomorrow afternoon I will take my copy of the card (he got a wallet card and two keychain cards) and see if I can find anything to check out. I’ll keep it under 8, though. Gotta leave a few books for Bill and others!

I typed the above yesterday (Tuesday). It is now late Wednesday morning and we have just returned from the bank where we have encountered a roadblock. Turns out that an Irish passport and a lease agreement is inadequate for opening a bank account. We need a letter from a utility. When we signed the lease, I asked the letting agent who we should call about the electricity. She said she would do it. As of this morning, mail was still coming to the apartment from the electric company addressed to the previous tenant. So we cannot open a bank account until we have a letter from them with our names. We cannot get any kind of internet connection until we have a bank account. The only utility bill we’ll have will be the electricity, so I guess we have to wait for them. In the meantime, I guess we have to call the letting agent again and make sure she has contacted them. We're approaching the Easter holiday weekend, when things will be closed Friday and/or Monday. I told Bill that one would think that, as completely new customers to the electric company, it seemed reasonable to assume that we would get some kind of form letter at least with instructions on how to proceed. From what I have been able to find out, people pay their bills by having the utilities take money from their bank accounts. So we need a bank account to pay our bill, but we can't get an account until we get something from them. LOL!

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