Parts of Brazil, including the state of Bahia (which is the size of France) are experiencing a ‘water crisis’. Fortunately Cabula, the working-class-gentrifying neighbourhood where I’ve lived since March, has not even suffered the temporary shortages caused by ‘improvements’ to the supply system. However, there is one drama I had never experienced before – having to possess the right kind of bottle, and one that is within its ‘best by’ date, in order to purchase mineral water. This is because tap water is undrinkable and I don’t trust ozone filters. Clay filters are supposed to be best, but they take up too much space and are hard to clean. So for years now, I’ve purchased large bottles of mineral water and so far, I’ve had no problems – until this afternoon. Starting with the fact that, in order to buy just the water and not the container, one has to have ’empties’ to hand over in return. But that’s not all!
It all started when I decided to purchase water from the cheaper of two suppliers – simple market logic, you’d think? More like penny wise, pound foolish! When the cheaper supplier (Supplier T) was out of stock, I turned to the other one (Supplier I) and found that they only sold the pricier ‘crystal’ plastic bottles and would only replace them with others of the same type. And when I managed to claw them back from Supplier T, who had replaced them with the cheaper kind, the bottles turned out to have ‘expired’ – that is, they were too close to the end of their expiration date to be acceptable for Supplier I.
Today I found that Supplier T has suddenly stopped selling water altogether, when they still owed me two ‘crystal’ containers (probably out of date, but still the type I need to get the better brand of water). I had to pay Supplier I for two ‘crystal’ containers plus the water – nearly three times more than what I would normally have to pay. At least it’s an investment – as long as no one in my household allows another supplier to swap them out for the cheap kind. When I explained the situation to Supplier I, she said “You were buying from Supplier T, weren’t you?” Lesson learned.