My house is still largely unfurnished. I got a bed, a wardrobe, 1 table, 2 chairs, and 4 big plastic crates. Think college dorm room but spread thinly over a 3-story, 4 bedroom house. Oh yeah, small detail left out. This house doesn’t have a single closet or a single shelf outside of the couple of cupboards in the kitchen on the ground floor; not even in the bathrooms. So, ever mindful of company coming to visit, etc.,  I am trying to outfit the place with the bare minimum.

Until just recently I was chair-less. That’s several months without a chair in the house. I did all my internet stuff sitting on the bed. The only place – still – to recline is in the single hammock on the 3rd floor terrace. I’ve been searching for furniture since I’ve been here but it’s been unreconcilable; either cheap Chinese plastic shit or this heavy 19th century German Baroque over decorated thing that the aspiring Mexican upper classes just can’t seem to get over. Buy used? Nope. There are no garage sales here. All used furniture and stuff like it gets recycled within the family; nothing gets sold. So the options are limited: buy what you don’t like or design it yourself and get it built. There is another option, building your own, but that quickly gets dumped because it is a bad value proposition; wood is expensive (and forget about buying quality hardwoods here) and tools are 2X the USA.

I tried over and over to do business with the carpenter down the street but he just couldn’t seem to ever stick with the original terms of the deal. I think it was a combination of three things: greed, poor character, and the constant need to dominate. He spent 20 years in LA, probably in a gang, and somehow confuses integrity with being tough and clever.

The deal breaker was the sawhorses. It’s a pretty simple thing to build a sawhorse especially if you know what one is and if you have the height and width dimensions.

So I asked for a pair of sawhorses, from a carpenter mind you. I gave him the dimensions – 80 cm. high by 50 cm wide. He told me they’d be ready on Tuesday and cost 300 pesos. This was the previous Thursday. I pass by his shop on Saturday afternoon on the way to the Mercado and asked how he was coming along and he said with a smile that ‘he was on it’; his classic bullshit response to most everything.

I walked by Tuesday afternoon and asked him how it was going and he said, ‘there was a change bro’. I said, ‘Oh?’

He needed to charge me 50 more pesos because he was now using new lumber, to which he then pointed to a stack of unassembled sticks. I grimaced, bit my tongue, and just grimaced; didn’t say a word. He said, ‘it’s just 50 pesos. I was going to use scrap – they’re just sawhorses – but new lumber seemed like the better way to go.’

I bit my tongue some more. I knew it was useless arguing, we’d gone that route before, so I iterated what shouldn’t have needed to have been a spoken requirement, but  then there was that pile of sticks. I said, ‘Fine, as long as they’re strong.’ And I got more specific, ‘I need to be able to stand on them. They need to be able to support my weight.’

I swear that his eyes crossed in anger. ‘You didn’t say that before bro’. I said, ‘Dude, they’re sawhorses, for work. You use good glue, good screws and you can turn even a pile of sticks into a pair of sawhorses.’ He thought again for a moment, ‘Fine but I am going to need some dough upfront.’ His classic argument has always been that he needed upfront money for material but I just saw the material in the form of a pile of what looked like 2X2 pick-up-sticks.

Now I was totally onto this particular scam. He wanted upfront money because it would make it harder for me to walk away from accepting the final piece of crap sawhorses he was going to build for me.

I said, ‘You know my rule about upfront money,’ meaning I didn’t provide upfront money. He thought again for another minute, you could practically see the steam coming out of his ears, before saying, ‘I am going to have to cancel this job.’

I said, ‘Fine, have it your way.’ I made my way to the door, half turned and threw over my shoulder, ‘I got a price from some ironworkers near the Mercado and they quoted me 350 pesos and made out of steel.’

He went something like, ‘Yah, right.’

I left his shop and walked the 4 blocks to the ironmongers shop. They remembered me from the weekend past when I popped in to price shop my sawhorses. It was a small matter to them. We shook hands on the deal and they delivered them to my house that evening at 6:30 pm; made out of tubular steel and painted black. I was wrong about one thing. They didn’t cost 350 pesos, just 300.

And with fresh planed white pine boards lying on top, the whole structure looks refreshingly elegant. So elegant that I went back and ordered 2 more black tubular steel sawhorses the following day.
I dropped the height 10 cm. and increased the width 10 cm then went to the lumberyard and had them mill me 3 boards: 2 – 25 cm X 170 cm and 1 – 10 cm X 170 cm and behold – I now have an independent dining room/computer work table. Most awesome considering the whole rig is a 520 peso proposition and is highly portable; meaning I can move the 5 pieces quickly to any spot in the house that suits me; namely the terrace, the kitchen or my workroom on the 3rd floor. And it is an incredibly attractive piece of furniture.