“Your fridge isn’t working, and the stuff in the freezer compartment stinks!”
That’s not the most welcome news when you are more than a thousand miles from home, and unlikely to be returning any time soon. All the same, I was grateful that my darling dutiful daughter had been to my place to check up on everything, and found the damage before anything had grown legs or wings. “I’ve tried switching it on and off, but it doesn’t react. I’ll clean it all up and try to get rid of the smell, but I can’t figure out why it isn’t working.”
My helpful neighbour came round to give her a hand, and kindly took over responsibility for opening and closing the windows for a week to air the kitchen. She also very thoughtfully left some herbs and lavender in the room and inside the fridge which was propped open to dispel the last remaining odours of food that wasn’t supposed to be there anyway (I don’t know who the culprit was, but they are forgiven!).
Darling dutiful daughter arranged for a technician to come and look at the fridge, which was no longer under guarantee. I started looking at the price of replacement fridges, and found myself turning as white as the white goods themselves. The technician arranged to meet my girl at my home the following week to investigate, which meant a round trip for her of about 300 km, but she is indeed a darling dutiful daughter and she didn’t complain.
The technician arrived and could find no fault in the fridge. In fact, he was only there long enough to establish that the fridge was not working because it was not receiving any power.
“It’s the electricity supply,” he informed DDD. “The fridge is fine. Sorry, but there is a call-out charge, even though I’ve only been here 5 minutes.”
At this point, they discovered that nothing in that row of appliances was working. DDD remembered hearing something from a neighbour about water infiltration and damp in the adjoining garage: could there have been a leak that caused a short circuit?
There was nothing more to be done at that point, except to summon a local electrician, inform the agency that looks after our administration, and find out about this suspicious leak. The agency knew nothing about a leak, but agreed to send a representative to meet DDD and the electrician, who announced he would be there, a week later, at 8.30 am. This was not really a convenient time for DDD, since she lives so far away, so she and her long-suffering husband decided to go to my apartment the night before, bearing gifts of gratitude for my helpful neighbour.
Since this was all taking place in Switzerland, the electrician arrived promptly, along with the lady from the agency and my helpful neighbour who likes to know what’s going on. They gathered in my tiny kitchen to hear the verdict from the electrician, whose first question was the obvious one: “Have you checked the fuses?”
Of course they had checked the fuses, down in the basement.
No, no, not those fuses – the ones for the apartment.
DDD and son-in-law looked at each other, perplexed. Then helpful neighbour had an aha-moment, what might be appropriately termed a light-bulb experience. Her apartment is the mirror image of mine and she suddenly remembered that there’s a small fuse box just inside the front door. As I had found mine ugly, I had hung a picture over it, so nobody had noticed it. With the air of a magician producing a rabbit from a hat, the electrician flicked the switch – and the old familiar hum started up in the kitchen.
There will be a call-out charge, of course.
But it will take a lot more than that to compensate my children for their red faces.