Who’s your “guy”?
macgyvering (according to the Urban Dictionary www.urbandictionary.com)“When you take something and you make it something that it shouldn’t be but it almost works perfect” – Draco
Yes, “that guy”! The one you can call at a moments notice when suddenly you have no water or you find yourself stuck in the middle of a busy intersection with a flat tire. Who do you call? “That guy”! Your special handyman. Forget about going online or looking in the yellow pages. Those “guys” rarely advertise.
In Mexico you’ll find that it is always best to ensure you’ve made a connection with a handyman or two that can come by at the drop of a hat…well ok, maybe “mañana” which doesn’t always mean tomorrow but more often “just not today”.
Finding a capable and reliable “guy” can sometimes be a challenge but relying on your fellow expats for recommendations works wonders. There are also various forums and Facebook groups where you can ask for recommendations in your local area. But better yet, if you have a little skill in Spanish or even Spanglish, you may be able to find someone in your own neighborhood.
What we would term “McGyvering” is a very common practice here and the ingenuity of the Mexican never ceases to amaze me when it comes to problem work arounds…and with no duck tape in sight! Not being able to access every conceivable tool and part as we are accustomed to in Canada and the U.S. requires a lot of thinking outside the box. And having your “guy” is particularly important if you are a home owner. It often takes an emergency to realize that you need someone and then you’ll find yourself at a loss in knowing where to begin to look.
Many handymen will claim they can “do it all” because they truly believe they can (or maybe it’s just a “man” thing?). It’s only by testing them out that you will discover what they are genuinely skilled at. For the most part they have learned what they know by watching others. Schooling in trades is not common in Mexico but that doesn’t mean they are less capable. Having said that, keep in mind that standards of work and safety may not be on par with what you have come to expect up North. So safety goggles and ear protection may be nowhere to be found when working on a project.
Normally all work is quoted with labour and materials separately. Most transactions for these services will take place in cash and generally without a receipt. I suggest on bigger projects that you only pay a portion (or in stages) of the agreed upon price until it is completed. That way you can be sure that the worker will return and it also gives you some leverage in quality of work. As for materials needed for the job; until you are comfortable and trust the handyman, accompany him to the supplier so that you can pay for the goods directly.
Sometimes it takes trial and error to discover the right person, but once you have, they will likely be very loyal and accommodating to you. And if you are fair to them, you’ll have a friend for life. Heck, you might even find yourself invited to their daughters quinceañera (coming of age celebration at 15) or their new born son’s baptism. And there’s nothing better than making connections with your newly adopted country’s citizens!