Friday, January 15, 2010

Warmth, At Last!

The heater is finally working. I wouldn't say it got fixed. But it is working.

So, for about two weeks, I'd been calling, writing e-mails and dropping by our house "secretary's" flat to find a fix for our broken bedroom heater. Let me share the lovely Italian absurdity with you.

I see the "secretary", il Signor Federico, in the hallway. I take my chance to inform him of my need.
-Mi scusi. The heater in our bedroom is broken.  It isn't putting out any hot air.  Can we have someone come and fix it?
-The what? Where? Oh, okay. Right away.
I was skeptical. He probably wouldn't remember it at all.  It had taken 2 months to get him to get us a new chair for our apartment.  The first time he told me he needed to order one.  The second time he told me he was waiting for it.  And the third time, when I asked if it had come yet, he looked very, very confused and told me we could just have the chair from his apartment, which he promptly carried to our apartment.

So...about 3 days later, I went to the other residence to pay our rent at the other residence. Keenly remembering the last time, I requested again:
-Scusi, our heater does not function. It is broken.  It is very, very cold in our bedroom when we sleep at night. (Notice how much I repeat myself and how I simplify everything to terrifying horrible English in an attempt to get understanding and action).
-Oh, yes? I'm sorry but the man who can fix it is away. You will have to wait until Monday.
-May I have extra blankets since it is so cold?
-Ok. I will have the housekeeper leave one for you at your door.
One? But we are three people...Sigh. For the shock of a lifetime, however, I got
home and there was actually a blanket waiting for me! Hooray. Now at least one of us would be warm enough at night.

Monday came, I had waited the whole weekend expectantly, eager for heat to come with Monday. But Monday came and went and still no repairman. No apology. No nothing. Did I really think that someone would come? Really? Yes, sadly, I still believed that secretaries follow through, that repairmen come, and that heat matters. How American can you get?

Tuesday came and goes. Still nothing. I read a notice that Federico Fantuzzi had gone on "holiday" and would not be available to assist the residents, but if you should need assistance either wait until he returns or e-mail the Accomodation office. "Yes!" I thought.  This is my chance. I can go around Mr. Fantuzzi without being caught! I e-mail them right away. At least I have a chance of someone else hearing my plea. I then experienced the single most un-Italian thing I have ever experienced since coming here...

I got an e-mail response back in 30 minutes. He asked for clarification if it was the heater in the bedroom or living room. I responded quickly and then he again responded an hour later and said that someone would come that day to look at it.

Having learned from the last empty promise, I did not anticipate. I was not expecting an actual man to show up. So when the door bell rang just two hours after I got the e-mail promise, I was very startled and a bit confused at who it could possibly be at the door. But it was "the man" (yes, the legendary man who can fix everything! Dominic really believes that there is a miracle worker--who he refers to simply as "the man"--who can put broken crackers back together, take mold off walls, and make things work again.) He came! He looked at the heater and declared it to be "rotto". Literally, broken. The worst part was that he would not be able to fix it and needed to call another "technico" or so I learned via our interpreter on the other side of a cell phone that we passed back and forth. Would tomorrow be okay? Tomorrow would be perfetto.

Did I think that new man would ever come? No. With a window of "between 2 and 5," something was sure to go wrong. But, I got a phone call in Italian and I understood enough to know that the "technico" was here and coming. Oh my gosh!!! This is it.  We're going to have heat again! I hastily woke up a grumpy Cate and moved her to the other room. I shoved aside the beds and made a nice path to the heater.  He came in and examined the heater. He turned it on and looked at me strangely. "Non funzione?" "It doesn't work?" Lacking words, I simply responded, "Si, e rotto." Since he spoke no English and I speak little Italian, he gestured to me to come over and feel the heater. It was blowing out warm air. Inexplicably, it had begun working. How embarrassing!  But, was broken!  Even the man yesterday said it was! I tried to protest in Italian that I didn't know how it was working. It was broken for two weeks, but I don't think he bought it. He simply thought I was an ignorant and silly American girl wasting his precious time.  


And that is how our heater came to work without actually being fixed.

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