Probably something only for Americans… do you remember this model of a thermostat? The Glory of late-50s technology… a superb simplicity and one itzy-bitzy step above having just an ON-OFF button. Perfection incarnate. I would have gladly chosen it for La Casetta, the only spot of Il Poggiolo needing one, what with its expensive gas-sucking boiler serving its complex of radiators needing steam heat. Instead… and here, I must point The Accusing Finger of Bad-Choice-Bud at the Electrician for the cheesy item… we got a thermostat of a particularly flimsy et plastique French manufacture called Tecne’. Naturellement, the instruction booklet was uniquement en francais. Who in the World has the patience to read an instruction booklet, much less one en francais? Odds are near zero while standing in briefs & T- in a FREEZING COLD 41F degree house at 3:03 AM since, the thermostat did-not/could-not/would-not communicate the request for 60F degrees made at 9:30 PM. Let’s go for radiant heat in the fireplace. This adventure was experienced by Our Renter, the Gragnola Pharmacist. Hard for me to imagine him in briefs & T-… he seems more a PJ-person… but anyway, he called to inform us that there was un problemino with the heat in La Casetta.
Already in the neighborhood for the sad affair of Our Dear Departed Neighbor’s funeral and before suiting up for it…
and, may I say? Typical of an Italian funeral, You & I were the only men in a suit & tie, far and away from the Standard Attire of jeans & parkas & boots. Even the priest counted in with the rugged-wear. However, he had a violet & shimmering mantel to cover his lack of formal attire…
You & I met Our Renter to survey the situation. He was right…. the thing had gone crazy. I was brave enough to pull-out le livret d’instructions. And, was wise enough to put it back in its binder. We all preferred to punch thermostat keys… temps clicked up & down the scale without nessuna provocazione. MANUEL would turn into AUTOMATIQUE in a blink. Radiators rattled when they should have hummed or, at least, stayed quiet. We collectively surrendered to… the thing was DEFECTUEUX. I gulped. Through the Natural Order of Things, i.e. I’m The Responsible Home-owner, the task of calling the very fellow who I had above pointed that finger at fell on My To-do List post-haste. But guys, it’s New Year’s Eve. The Electrician is not going to come now! Left me to struggle with tel.-temptation until Thursday, January 2nd. A first for me. I am in favor of interrupting other’s fun when mine has been too.
Call made. The intervention set for the morning of the 3rd day of January. I drove down with The Dogs from Genoa. The Electrician’s assistant, a strapping & quiet fellow, met me at La Casetta. Let me amend quiet. He’s mute. Yes, he is prompt, professional, efficient, A Problem-solver!!! and yet, extremely non-talkative. He has worked on Il Poggiolo for the last five years of Our… My Ownership and I think I have heard him speak maybe ten words… Si, No, Si puo fare, Non si puo fare, and Forse. Feeling already mightily inadequate regarding things I know nothing about… and there’s a lot but mostly electricity, plumbing, fixing a lawn mower… the Assistant’s informational skills drive me to rank idiocy. Perhaps I am just not accustomed to having someone who actually listens to me? My Orders given and completed. I just would like a little conversation in between.
And, this very absence caused me to reflect upon what I have noted over the years of Il Poggiolo’s reconstruction and now maintenance with the verbal skills & characteristics of the many, many personalities of the Italian Construction Industry we encountered. There are three principal groups and not surprisingly, just as there are in the construction/re-construction of a house…
the Chatty Cathys are undoubtedly those Work-guys employed by Builders. And, it doesn’t matter which Builder. The crews act the same. They banter and joke and kid and gossip and rib each other while lugging, tugging & towing too. There are never lulls, voids, or skips to the airwaves. You always know where they are, what they are doing and how it is going by the conversational noise. It’s kind of hard to insert a word in even sideways to all their happy talk. Thank God, there were usually only six of them tackling Il Poggiolo. Can’t imagine the decibel level with any more than that.
the Plumbers are not chiaccheroni like the first group, a notch or two below those guy’s frequency. The trade-off, however, is whatever repartee is about between the Plumber & Helper/s, such as asking for a wrench, is marked by a highly creative exposition of foul cussing. Porca miseria!!!… Cazzo! Cazzo! Cazzo!… and every now & then, merda! are transmitted unabashedly. The last expression might explain the need.
whereas, the electricians are the Silence Is Golden folk. They rarely escape the bounds of Si or No. Often, while putzing about without detecting a word exchanged between the two Electrician’s assistants, I often think they must communicate telepathically. Why the rest of us must submit to wires & switches is one of those Construction Mysteries, never to be revealed. A shame they cannot share their secrets. I think everything should be Wi-Fi!
So, the Assistant said the thermostat E’ DEFETTOSO. I have heard him now use twelve words. He removed it and put a new one in its place. Silence. He then set the clock, punched-in MANUALE and the My Desired Temp, closed the flap and bid me Buon Giorno. Fourteen. And, we have heat! Gads.