Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Story About My French Friends

". . .if you were to remove everything from our lives 
that depends on electricity to function, homes and 
offices would become no more than the chambers and 
passages of limestone caves—simple shelter from 
wind and rain . . ."
~ Jane Brox

There are 10 apartments in the building in which I live, and two of us are at the back.  Mine is on the ground floor, and the other is on the first floor above me.  Since I moved in, I have heard people moving around, banging down the stairs, and trying to calm a screaming child.  I could tell they were French, and I figured they had two young children.

As I was writing the other evening, I heard a commotion in the hall, and someone rang my doorbell.  I opened the door to the mother and two girls.

"Do shou spake Eng-leesh?" the mother asked me.

"Si," I replied, although I have no idea why I answered in Italian.

"Our ay-lictric eez not own," she announced. Mine, she could see, was since I had turned on the foyer light when I answered the door.

"I'm sorry," I said, not really knowing what else to say.  "Did you call Giovanni?"

"Zee nome-bare, she doe-zant verk. Ve needs zee power."   She noticed the fuse box to my apartment inside the door.  "Vare eez our box like zees?"  How I was supposed to know, I have no clue.  I shrugged my shoulders.

"Giovanni lives two doors up at the same door as the B&B," I told her.  "Maybe just go there and ring his bell."  I felt sorry for her, but I couldn't help.

As I was getting ready for bed about 10 minutes later, the bell sounded again. I opened the door to find that the father had joined the troupe.

"Zee nome-bare fair Giovanni doe-zant verk," he said to me. I really felt sorry for them, but to be perfectly blunt, I didn't know any more then than I knew 10 minutes earlier. "You zee?" The father held up his cell phone so I could hear someone say that the number wasn't working.

"Ok," I said. "Let me try to call him for you."  I dialed the number and got, you guessed it, his voicemail.  I left a message outlining the problem and asked him to call the Francesi when he could.  "So, hopefully he will hear the message and call you," I said to the father.  He  talked to me for a few more minutes, but I have no idea what he said because it was probably nothing of consequence and, quite frankly, I was falling asleep on my feet by that time Sunday evening.

 "Bon chance (Good luck)," I said as I closed the door.

About 20 minutes later, I was asleep.

"Viva, Las Vegas! Viva, Las Vegas!," my phone blared (ZZ Top = my ring tone). I probably bounced to the ceiling and back in panic when I heard it.  I wasn't expecting a call, of course, and I was very much asleep.


"Krees, it's Giovanni," the male voice announced.

"Who?" In my sleep-fogged state, I was confused.  (If you read the post about my arrival at the apartment, you'll understand the irony of my response.) Within a split second, I realized it was Giovanni. "Oh, you got my message."

"Yes. What is-a da problem?" He apparently got the message but either didn't listen to it or didn't understand it.  I repeated what I had told him about the French family's electricity.  "Again it-a happen. They turn on-a da washer, da air, and da microwave at-a da same-a time. It may work-a in Francia, but in-a Italia, it break-a da electric. The box is-a by the door-a."  

  Fast forward to last evening at roughly the same time. The bell screeched again, and again I found the mom and girls at my door.

"Sorry," the mom said. She pointed at the oldest daughter. "She mean to turn own zee light for zee stairz."

"It's okay," I replied.  "Your electric is working okay today?"

"Yes, but zee hote wat-air eez oaf." Sensing, I think, that I was going to suggest she call Giovanni, she continued, "Ve call Giovanni, and he eez comb-ing soon, ve hope."

I hoped so, too.


  1. This story may explain some things about French history. It also suggests you should just drop the Italian studies and take a course in fuseboxery.