Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Riddle Me This

In the last two weeks, we have had major electrical problems at our house. They began the night we returned from our week in Slovenia and Croatia, and I promise I will eventually get to blogging about that trip. Although come to think of it, almost exactly one year ago I wrote that I would eventually get to blogging about our trip to the German Christmas Markets...and then I spent the next few months either sick on the sofa, fitting in pre-baby trips, cleaning out clutter, or sleeping.

Any-hoo, here in Italy, we have two choices for how we pay our power bill. Either the landlord keeps the utilities in his/her name and tenants just pay the landlord (or in our case with our gas bill, she brings us the bill and we pay it directly) or we can go through an office called Residential Services on base. For a fee of $10 per month, this office handles our billing. For problems, we call them and they contact the utility company on our behalf. They close at 6pm. The night we arrived home from our Thanksgiving trip, we arrived after dark on a rainy night, got the car unloaded and unpacked the bare minimum, fed the baby and got her to sleep, then collapsed on the sofa. And about 30 seconds later, the lights went out. Only our house. After awhile, the power came back on, we chalked the problem up to a "living in Italy" issue, and thought nothing more about it. Until the next night when the power went out again. The power going out continued sporadically, would last from 30 minutes to 2 hours, and there was no common denominator. Finally it happened during the daytime, so I was able to call Residential Services. The rep there spent almost two hours trying to contact the electric company, and when our power came back on by itself again, she stopped trying to call them. And so our world turned. I tried various things such as never using the dryer and heater at the same time, not turning on the kitchen light, all sorts of combinations and reductions in usage, all to no avail. This week, the power went out right at 6pm. But this time, on a very cold, winter night, it stayed out. The temperature in the house kept dropping. We wrapped our little baby in her fleece pajamas into a heavy, fleece swaddle, put a hat on her head, and I spent most of the night, until 3am when the power returned, awake and checking her to make sure she wasn't freezing. Thankfully, the power went out again just a few hours later, in the middle of the day, when I could actually call for help.

Residential Services contacted the electric company, got thru to them quickly, and in about two hours, called me to tell me that the electric technicians were on my street, but they could not find my house. I asked if they were in a car or a truck so I would no what to look for, and their answer to the Res Svc rep was that they were in a white van. I walked up to the piazza and down to the main crossroad - no electric company white van around. The Res Svc rep, who was on the phone with me the entire time, asked if I was sure of my address. I've lived here for two years, and while there is much about Italy of which I am not at all sure, I can safely say I know my address very well. And I've looked it up on Google Satellite, so, unlike many addresses here, mine actually exists to the outside world. As it turns out, the electric technicians had gone to the street with the same name two villages over. They eventually made it in their white "van," which turned out to be a four door, hatchback sedan smaller than our Toyota Camry, but they did have two ladders strapped to the roof, so perhaps the ladders changed the designation from tiny car to van.

Because my electricity doesn't work, my buzzer to open the entry door doesn't work either. One must have a key. Typically, houses here have a buzzer that acts like a doorbell, and inside the home, residents have a button to push to unlock the door. Our entry door is at the street level and opens onto a small, covered foyer, and then goes up an outdoor staircase onto our terrace and garden. This upper level is where we live as well. We have very tall, iron fencing around the entire side and backyard and most of it is covered with thick, vine plants and thorny, bougainvillea. I have one other entry/exit gate, which is locked, chained, and rusted shut. I let in two technicians to our entry with my key. Two technicians without a ladder. I talked with them a few minutes, then went inside. About 10 minutes later, before the power had been restored, one of the men knocked on the house door and requested that I let him out the entry door with the key. We went downstairs, and as I unlocked the door, I saw the other man whom I'd let into the garden sitting in their white "van." So riddle me this:  How did that man get out of my gardens to the street when his co-worker had to ask me for a key to get out? I'd like to know, mainly because if he could get out without my help, then logic tells me that he could also get back in. I'll never know, but I do have constant electricity now. Hot water, electricity, and heat. I am living the high life! This sort of fancy living will come to an end soon, I am sure.

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