10 August 2004

Files from Project New Apartment: Me versus the Electric Company

As the contract had been registered with the city the previous day, BG had called last Wednesday to get our electricity and gas turned on. This being August, the month where 99% of the country goes on holidays, we were given appointments for the following week. ItalGas we initially thought won the prize for being the biggest pain in the arse as they gave us an appointment for the 13th whereupon they are supposed to show up sometime between the hours of 8.00 and 15.30.

However, ACEA has heroically swiped that award as of yesterday. They had given up an appointment for yesterday from the hours of 10.30 to 13.30. As BG has gone on hols to Greece,* I arranged to come into work later, planning on scraping the previous tenants' grime from all possible surfaces while waiting for the tech to arrive.

Let me take the time to point out that our building has a doorwoman. She keeps the doors to the building open from 8.00 until 13.00 and then from 16.00 until at least 18.00. She's a nosy little bird and takes her job as resident busybody very seriously. Also, not only does my doorbell and intercom work, but the little doorbell labels on the outside of the building are clearly numbered.

So I'm sweating my balls off (figuratively speaking obviously) scraping and scrubbing the grime from the kitchen. I find out that the kitchen sink is leaking when I rinse out the rags; at look under the sink shows no sign of leakage from the tubes nor from the entrance into the wall, which points to a leak inside the wall.

Oh joy. I also discover a cockroach under the sink, which unfortunately makes its escape I before I grab a suitable object for smushing it. Considering the amount of food particles in the cabinets, in the stove, in the oven, in the drawers, in the fridge, in the freezer...I'm rather surprised an army of the little buggers didn't swarm out from the walls to beat me senseless with my new mop.

Scrubbing scrubbing scrubbing. Hmm wonder what time it is? Oh look it's 13.30. Time flies when your trying to scrub grease from a stove hood without the aid of hot water.

Having experienced Italian efficiency in person for the past 6 years (ie, it doesn't exist and everything runs late), I decide to wait a bit longer. I get someone to bring me a bit of pizza, whereupon I attempt to eat it without actually touching it as my nails are black with grime.

15.30 rolls around and, two hours of allowance giving for "Italian time" being more than enough, I figure that it's time to call ACEA. After playing the "Push button Foo to reach Bar" game and subsequent "Please Hold"-ings, I am given three numbers to call and speak with the techs directly.

No one answers. At all three of the numbers.

I call ACEA's central line again. This time I am told to wait a little longer as "long delays can happen." (Ya think?!) She then gives me another number plus this helpfull piece of advice:

"If you don't get an answer from that number send a fax to 06.555.5555."

"Would you care to tell how I am supposed to send you a fax if I am to continue waiting for your techs in an apartment that not only is devoid of anything remotely resembling a fax machine, but that also currently has no fucking electricity?!

She has no answer for that one and pads into the Pat Textbook Responses for the Slightly Irate.

Repeated attempts throughout the afternoon to call all of the numbers I have been given continue to result in no response. At 17.30 I call ACEA's central line again. Previous times I didn't have to wait to reach the initial operator. This time it seems that all of Rome is calling ACEA and I am waiting for a free operator for a good 15 minutes, constantly accompanied by the dulcet tones of John Lennon's Imagine set at maximum volume.

If the choice of that song was to subliminally calm clients, it's not working. Howsabout you imagine my foot planted up your ass for making me wait all day for a tech that never showed. Let's imagine that, shall we?

I am told there is nothing that can be done for that day and in order to make another appointment, I need to call at the ungodly hour of 8.30 tomorrow morning. I need to call to reschedule an appointment. The irony is killing me. Having been stood up like a cheap second rate John Huges character, I get to beg, scream and plead for the chance to do it all over again. Please sir, may I have another?

I am on the verge of tears. I spend the night at Shithead's as he's just gotten back from a trip. Getting laid tends to salve the sting a bit, plus there was the added bonus that he had to be up early also, which ensures that I will have someone booting my ass out of bed when i hit the snooze button for the 80th time.

I call ACEA and explain the story. So far I have not lost my shit yet and am explaining things in firm, intelligible yet obviously irate Italian using the polite forms of Lei and Voi instead of screaming a mixture of Roman and English obscenities directed at the operator's mother.

I discover in the course of the conversation that the techs don't work after 15.00. I calmly point out that it would have been nice if i had been told that when I called at 15.30 the day before instead of being told to wait and try calling numbers where no one would answer because they had gone home for the day, you incompetent monopolistic fucks. The operator is quite contrite and puts me on hold while he tries to contact the techs. During one of these waits, the phone line cuts out.

Are we having fun yet?

I call back and by some small miracle manage to get the same operator. he puts me on hold for a bit longer and then gives me (drum roll please).....

...another fucking telephone number for the techs an addition to the four that I already have. This time though, I have a name to ask for. He tells me to call at 14.30. Something nags at the back of my caffine-deprived stressed out brain, but as he's been the most helpful of the lot, i thank him and hang up.

Two minutes later i realise what that nagging was. Call at 14.30? The techs go home at 15.00

Homie ain't gonna play that game. No fucking way. Begin calling the five numbers in an attempt to reach Sig. Head of Techs to inform him that I am busy at work during that time and would he please arrange something before that time.

Surprise folks. No answer from any of those numbers.

I call the central line again. This time I am pissed and make no bones about it. Friends have noted that my Italian becomes very good when I am pissed off: descriptive, colourful and inherently sarcastic. Of course I employ Tu to be maximumly insulting; when I'm pissed off my brain refuses to trouble itself with the bothersome forms of politeness.

The operator I get this time around is a bit ruder and informs me that the techs won't answer at those numbers until they return to the office at 14.30, so I adjust accordingly: I start yelling.

I will not miss another day of work. I will not spend another night in a dark apartment, I will not call at 14.30 to rearrange an appointment because their tech couldn't be bothered showing up and I will not wait another day to have my electricity attached.

I will make a denuncia. I will be sending them and invoice for my hours lost working. I will be shopping my tale to the media and StriciaNotizia. I will have electricity by the end of the day.

This ranting has the happy effect of producing another telephone number. On the plus side, it's the cell number of Sig. Head of Techs. I call.

Miracle of miracles he responds. I explain the situation and give our user number. He informs me that the tech could not get in and calls to my cell phone resulted in the answering machine (which means it was out of range).

Let's review a few facts:

1) There's a doorwoman. She even kept the doors open later than usual yesterday because of the appointment.
2) All doorbells are clearly marked.

I ask Sig. Head of Techs why the tech didn't ask the doorwoman. He replies that there was no doorwoman.

Uh, hello? She's an absolutely nosy bitch; there's no way you can miss her if the doors are open. Even if they weren't, is it that fucking hard to use a doorbell?

I start ranting again when he says he can't do anything until he gets back to the office at 14.30. I smell a whiff of bullshit here as he was able to find the records of yesterday's little inexistant tête-a-tête and state point blank that the current situation is unacceptable and somebody better remedy it pretty damn fast. I will have electricity by the end of the working day or things will become very, very unpleasant. He finally takes my work number and cell number again and tells me he will call when he can send a tech out.

I call the doorwoman to inform her of the situation and she agrees (after three hours of inane chatting - add ditsy to her list of adjectives) that ACEA is bullshitting me.

I get a call from a private number around 11.00 and it's Sig. Head of Techs to tell me there is a tech at the door now. i tell him I'll be there in 5 minutes but the tech can alk with the doorwoman. Incredibly he tells me again there is no doorwoman. I tell him that's impossible as Via My Street 35 most definately has a doorwoman as I have the misfortune to have to pay an obscene amount of condominium fees every month thanks to her salary. However I'll be there in five minutes.

I rush over to the apartment, where the tech is just leaving and the doorwoman is waving him goodbye.

She chirpily informs me of the problem causing the missed appointment and the case of the mysterious invisible doorwoman, confirmed by the tech two seconds later without the slightest trace of sheepishness or contriteness.

He had the wrong door.

Apparently ACEA doesn't require their techs to have an IQ over 70.

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