I’m pretty sure I jinxed myself with the “hoping for no problems.” When I went down to Utilities Pay Desk at five after eleven I was told that I could not pay my bill there. And in my very limited Bulgarian I was able to understand that they ONLY let people pay bills there between the 17th and 28th of each month. I felt insanely defeated . . . I mean you have got to be kidding me. I parked myself on a bench and tried to hold back tears that wanted to break through; when I noticed a Office 1 Store and remembered someone saying I could maybe pay bills there too. So I walked in, asked the girl if I could pay and she nodded and said “Da.” I breathed a sigh of relief – there is some hope left. Unfortunately, I sighed too soon, because soon she was calling over every employee in the store (since she spoke no English) to explain to me that I could only pay the most recent bill there, not a past bill.
All 8 employees proceeded to tell me I needed to go to the Post Office to pay my bill. Where I was originally going to go in the first place! I asked if I needed to go to the one on Rakovski Street, and they said yes. So I left the Mall of Sofia, plugged in my iPod and waited for the number 1 bus to take me closer to where I needed to go. And of course on shuffle the first song my iPod plays is . . . “When you feel all alone, and the world has turned its back on you . . .” Savage Garden’s “Crash & Burn.” And so begins my mental breakdown . . .tears are falling.
After walking in the cold to the Post Office I finally arrived at a 12pm. I asked a few people where I needed to go to pay and showed the bill I had. I was directed to one window, where the woman spoke no English and she was telling me how much I owed for heat. I tried to explain to her that I need to pay my electric too so my power would be turned back on. Finally, a man next to me spoke English and explained to the woman, who showed me another window I needed to go to for electric. Here the girl spoke English and told me how much the bill for electric was. I told her I never received a paper bill and I needed my power turned back on. This is when she drops the bomb on me . . . at this particular Post Office I could only pay my bill, but not the fee/tax to turn back on my electricity. I would need to go to another Post Office to do that. And it just so happens that this Post Office is right near the Mall of Sofia where I had just been.
So now, I am sitting at O’Nice, conveniently located next to the Post Office, warming up before I walk over to Animus to get my co-worker/friend who speaks Bulgarian to go with me to the second Post Office. FML!!
UPDATE — 4:30PM
I just took the tram with my friend over to the “Central Post Office” where I paid my electric bill. I was then given the option of having it on immediately or tomorrow, which is a difference of paying 38 leva or 19 leva. Already quite frustrated with the past 24 hrs, I said that I wanted it on now. I paid the “tax/fee” and then had my friend ask a few questions. Firstly, if the electricity would be on when I got home and secondly how can I get my electric bill in the future so this doesn’t happen again. This was the woman’s answers: “She can’t get her bill, they don’t send bills anymore. She must come to pay.” “The electric will go on in 6 hrs.” Yes, you read that clearly. Basically, what she told me is that they intentionally do not send bills, and then turn off the power without any warning and there is nothing I can really do about it. And I just paid 38 leva to have my power turned on right before I go to bed, not “immediately” as she originally stated. So I could have saved 19 leva to have it turned on midday tomorrow, while I was at work. To make matters more confusing it appears that I was charged 76 leva for one month and 16 leva for the other, which is a huge difference and makes no sense. My friend said I should call tomorrow to complain and try to get my money back.
So here I am at my third coffee shop of the day avoiding going home to my dark apartment. I plan on staying here until they kick me out, and then I will go get Chinese Food at the restaurant near my apartment. So that hopefully my apartment will have electricity when I finally get home.
This has been quite a infuriating and frustrating 24 hours. Welcome to Bulgaria!