The Gas Crisis

Another thing that I love about Colombia is that things are never boring here! Even the simplest thing, like paying the gas bill, can be an adventure. Take today for instance.

I was in ceramics class when I received a call from our nanny (yes, life is hard but somebody has to live it!). “There is a man here to cut off our gas. He said that we haven’t paid the bill,” she said.

I asked her to check the bills because I didn’t remember getting a bill for gas recently. She did and she couldn’t find one. Meanwhile, my ceramics teacher said, “Ask the man to give you a little time and have your nanny run to pay the bill right now.”

I tried to talk to the man and explain that we didn’t get the bill but all he had to say was, “I get paid for cutting off the gas.” No gas means no cooking and no hot water. This wasn’t looking good.

I was about to accept our fate, when another class member said. “Wait. What’s he doing in your house? They can’t let him into the gated community without your permission. Have your nanny kick him out and go quickly to pay the bill. It’s a few blocks away.”

So I did just that. I heard our nanny over the phone arguing with the man that he should leave and go wait for me outside the conjunto or she will go get security. The man was angry but had no choice but to go wait outside while our nanny, with Saige in tow, took a taxi first to one place, to get a duplicate bill, and then to another to pay the bill.

Meanwhile, I was on pins and needles calling our conjunto administrator to make sure that they didn’t let the gas man into the conjunto. (In case you are wondering why I didn’t go do all of this myself, I was further away and didn’t have a car.)

About 45 minutes later, all seemed to be going according to plan, when I received a frantic call from the conjunto administrator. “The gas man is still here outside the conjunto and he is tired of waiting for you. He is threatening to cut off the gas for the entire conjunto (90- plus houses) if we don’t let him in to cut your gas.”

“Can he do that?” I asked.

“Yes, he can. We checked our records and the bill was never delivered here. (The gas company contracts another company to deliver bills. These bills are all recorded in the guards’ station and residents sign for them.) We were told the man that but he didn’t care. He said his job was to cut off the gas and then you can resolve it with the gas company.

Yikes! We are still waiting to get a phone and internet despite having asked for the service two and a half months ago! I would hate to find out how long it takes, and how many steps it involves, to get gas reinstated.

“Just give me a minute to see where are nanny is,” I said. “I know she was already in line to pay 15 minutes ago.”

I called our nanny but she didn’t pick up. Will we be left without gas?

She picked up the second time I called her. “Don’t worry,” she said breathlessly. “I just got here and showed the man the receipt. He can’t cut the gas now.”

Phew! Crisis averted. Life here is never boring….

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