*names have been changed
Dear lord and lady where do I start with this? I'm not sure this post is going to be #relatable unless you live in Catalunya and are an expert in dealing with the tradesmen here.
Electrical sockets. A simple thing. However, the architects and electricians here do not go through any form of training. They just give it a whirl and hope for the best, which is evidently what happened when they built our apartment. Unfortunately, this means that our sockets and lights and various other electrical fittings frequently malfunction. For the latest disaster, we made the mistake of enlisting 'outside help'.
Five weeks ago, a little man arrived (with zero tools) to fix our sockets that didn't have any current and Mother's broken bathroom mirror light. Mother and I both glanced at each other when *George waddled into our house to "take a look". He "took a look" and then returned to his van to bring his tool box up. It was more of a small first aid box but there we go.
"You see? The lamp is broken, no light, look!" Mother indicates to George to look at the broken light. He had already established the situation but I translated anyway.
I tell Mother that George is going to change the bulb.
"He'll break it. I bet. Look! There's no wa..."
Ah. George has smashed the bulb connections.
George sighs and blasphemes in Catalan.
I do not translate.
"WHOOOPS A DAISY, GEORGE! I TOLD YOU! We need a whole new fitting!" Mother's input was, of course, valued in this sensitive situation.
George tells me he must now remove the entire mirror. He begins to lift the mirror (by himself)...
He bonks a corner of the mirror on the marble wall tiles and it shatters.
This is going really well. I'm trying to stifle my giggles whilst Mother is screaming internally.
"Oh!" Mother exclaims.
George is absolutely mortified. I can't bear to look. I'd quite like to leave, to be honest.
"Well, what now? You can't leave that here like that, it's DANGEROUS!" Mother, offering her help.
George apologises and explains he will have to go and buy a new lamp and mirror and bring it back in a few days.
A tremendous huff comes from beside me;
"WHAT? OH NOOOOOOO, I CAN'T BE WITHOUT A MIRROR! AND WITHOUT A LIGHT! LOOK AT THIS NOISE THE FAN MAKES WITHOUT THE LIGHT! LISTEN! LOOK! LISTEN!"
I try to make the situation a little less uncomfortable by not translating Mother's demands.
Anyway. Fast forward 5 weeks. Yes, that's right. 5 weeks. The current day. I have aged. During the last 5 weeks there has been a ridiculous amount of communication between Mother and George's employers regarding how slow and useless tradesmen are. I might also add here that dear old George arranged 3 visits within these 5 weeks that he simply did not turn up to.
I receive a phone call this afternoon from George, telling me he is half an hour away.
I see. Appointments are not in their brain capacity, it would seem. I gently tell Mother;
"PARDON?! WHAT? What on earth is this chaotic mess?! How do these morons operate? They cannot work like normal people, can they! As if they just assume we will be at home! We have stayed home the previous 3 times and he didn't even arrive! LIBERTY! "
We stayed home to encounter George again.
He arrived with an accomplice. Just as useless, I'm afraid. They also arrived empty handed.
It seemed to click when Mother stared at George, as he swiftly (nervously) jumped back downstairs to collect the lamp. His accomplice was left alone with Mother projecting God knows what at him (he does not speak English, either).
George trots back with a lamp under his arm.
Before they connect it they spend 15 minutes figuring out how to do it. That training day they didn't attend really would have come in useful here. Mother suddenly says;
"What colour is it? It better not be some ghastly LED light! Oh GOD what if it's not the same as the last one! I want a warm light not a horrendous blue light!"
I gently ask what colour it is and close my eyes as George informs me it is, indeed, a cool blue LED light.
I translate this back to Mother.
Mother pulls her entire body a foot back and rearranges her facial features as if she has just witnessed 12 humans vomit all over her Chanel suit.
I didn't feel the need to translate.
"You don't want?" Poor George is very confused, after being pestered for 5 weeks to bring the damn lamp.
I grow concerned as Mother looks as though she might have a mental breakdown any second.
Faces are just glancing at one another, trying to figure out what's going on as Mother rapidly shakes her head and slaps her hands on her face.
"urmmmmm....." I do not know what to say.
"THIS IS NO GOOD! Oh for God's sake, I can't believe this! What do you mean, it's not the same as the last one!? I want the same as BEFORE! Oh my GOD I just...... I can't have BLUE! It's awful! It's cheap! Look at how cheap this is! I can't bear it, oh God no make it stop turn it OFF TURN IT OFF!!"
George is looking at Mother as though he has murdered her husband.
I shake my head apologetically and they start disassembling the lamp...
Mother then demands the men to find the lamp she wanted, the warm light. However, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum inform me that they can 'try' but it could take weeks.
Ah, what a surprise.
Mother gives in;
"Oh for God's sake, just leave it there then. I'll just have to not use it won't I! NEVER turn it on because I'll be blinded by that horrific white glow! YUCK! If they take it away I won't have a lamp for the next 12 years!"
Ever the exaggerator.
"Where is the new mirror?" Mother asks, as she sees the men trying to fit it to the broken mirror.
Ah. Apparently they do not have one. There appears to be two mirrors stuck to each other and only the top mirror is broken, so they want to pull them apart and leave us with the mirror intact.
"IT WILL BREAK! IT WILL BREAKKKKK!!!!"
Mother is not wrong. I do not know anything about DIY but it doesn't seem feasible to pull apart two mirrors that have been suspiciously glued together without resulting in a giant shattered mess that will take them five more weeks to clear up.
Conversations ensue as Mother's level of annoyance increases and the level of awkwardness in the room rises rapidly. The men are trying to convince us that it won't break. They will "try" and if it does, they will bring a new one. When that would be is under much questioning.
"Oh God. Darling, tell them! Tell them it will break! Tell these men.... ask the men what the voltage of the lamp is! Tell them I AM TRAINED in these things, I KNOW! Move them out of the way. Don't let them touch that broken mirror! It WILL break and I will be without a mirror and a light and oh GOD this is ..... just TELL THEM, darling, tell them what I'm saying!"
This is very difficult to translate because, at the exact same time, intellectual George decides to give his lengthy speech in Spanish to me.
"So, yes or no to mirror?"
"what? WHATTT? I want a NEW MIRROR! Oh for God's sake! Just leave it. Just leave it. Gracias. I suppose"
The men then proceed to wrap hideous black duct tape across all the shattered and broken parts of the mirror. This is gorgeous, really sets off the pearl marble wall. Lovely.
Mother glares at their work in disgust and then rolls her eyes. She has given up trying to teach these men how to work.
I take the initiative to refuse further translation in the hopes that it will get these morons out of our house a lot faster. Mother continues to screech translation instructions to me as I nod and say some sort of Spanish rubbish to the men to satisfy her.
Eventually they leave with their first aid box. Oh, and the cat. Thank you very much Dumb and Dumber, you've left the front door wide open and taken our cat with you.
So, here we are. The lamp replacement is about as good as no lamp at all, since Mother refuses to switch it on. The mirror is worse than before they came in the first place. This is the archetypical story of inviting tradesmen into your home; they come to fix one thing and break another. However, in Catalunya, they don't fix the first thing and end up breaking two things.
We'll do it ourselves next time. DIY QUEENS DO NOT NEED A MAN!
Thank you, next.