A Comedy of Errors

You think that things will always be okay and that the status quo can be trusted. Not so. No matter where you live, in the US or abroad (as I am in Barcelona), things can go wrong. You just hope you can cope with it and fix it promptly so life can return to normal. This can get complicated at times. In my case, it can be exacerbated by a language barrier. While I speak Spanish, I do not speak the dialect used by many who live in the countryside. This came to light in an annoying way when my kitchen faucet broke. My landlord told me that repair was my responsibility. That I understood clearly. So I had to find a local plumber, and I hoped to secure one who wouldn’t break the bank. Plumbers in the US have the reputation of charging a fortune, no matter how simple the job. I looked around and consulted some neighbors so I could count on a reasonable fee.

What is most important to me is promptness and reliability. You depend on your kitchen faucet if you cook at home. I do and I also wash things in the sink that I don’t want to take to the laundromat. I was in a quandary until the plumber arrived. I had to wait but a day and he appeared on schedule. He got out his tools and took a look under the sink. He started to talk to me in his own language. I stood there like a statue. I heard some numbers and thought he might be quoting his fee. I didn’t want to agree to anything I didn’t understand. You should have seen the two of us trying to communicate using hand gestures. He even resorted to writing something down on paper. Of course I couldn’t read it. It was a comedy of errors since he apparently wanted to replace the entire faucet instead of just stopping the leak. That was much more than I bargained for. I made a sign to him to “stop!”

We never did get the hang of communicating in our respective languages. He was a nice enough fellow and I didn’t truly think he was trying to cheat me. We just had to come to terms with the work required and its cost. If the faucet were defective, it would have been a different matter; but I thought why couldn’t he just plug the hole in the under sink pipe? It isn’t always assumed by any handyman or tradesman that you want the most economical job. He on the other hand probably thinks the most complete repair is the best. Since I am only a renter, I did not share this view. It would be different if I owned my home. On and on we went, blabbering and gesturing with our hands. It took some time before I think he got my point. The repair was accomplished quickly, at the right price, and now I could use the faucet for any purpose.