On an average day we had a visit from a telephone company technician. At least I can talk about the football championship, although I’m not an expert, but I can easily pretend to be. We’ll discuss the weather, the unusual hot or the unusual cold and many others things. Today finally I’ll get to talk with an honest man, worker and father. Today at least I’ll be at ease in a bourgeois way.
The aim is to repair the telephone line for the wi-fi connection in a house where some guys from Gambia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria live. Yes, the aim is to fix the hateful wi-fi which those bloody africans will use for free, and for which we have to pay!
When the man arrives I show him the telephone socket. Immediately, he says that it’s not the right one, he’s not sure where telephone cables exactly are, if here, there, down or up.
Excuse me, but that’s the socket and I assume it must be connected-
Not at all! I’ve to go out into the garden to look for cables and other stuff –
Ok, right –
How could I argue with an expert and a honest citizen who pays taxes? I couldn’t.
While I’m teaching the guys, outside there’s an intense activity: stairs, cables and opened wall panel. After a while, he comes into the house to open everything which appears electric or phone related. He spends almost two hours. We continue with the class and he’s continues his work in silence. I ask him if everything is ok and if he needs a hand, but he doesn’t reply. Perhaps he didn’t hear although we are in the same room. I ask him again and he grunts something, then he goes in search of some tools. Even the guys are quite surprised with all this intense activity.
Meanwhile I say to the guys they should watch the efficiency of the Italian workman. Never talk at work, grunt from time to time, but never talk. It seems that these suggestions are well accepted by the guys. I’m happy.Half an hour later, he reappears.
After two hours of work I haven’t found the place where cables are. The owner has to come here and show you where they are. Moreover, it’s 1 p.m. I’m already late for other appointments and I haven’t had my lunch yet.-
It’s late for everyone here, I’ll also go for my lunch break, we’ll get in touch this afternoon in case you’re able to come back today or the owner might pop-in to show me the cable –
Ok, that’s fine. I left all the electrical boxes open because there’s no electricity. I’ll close them next time. Even if there was electricity and one of them put his hands in there, it wouldn’t matter. If one of them disappears no-one cares, they’re all the same. Bye –
Right, got it guys? Whoever touches the wire dies! Repeat after me, all of you : whoever touches the wire dies!!! Lets see who is going to win. Ready? Steady! Go! Everyone rushes to get their hands on all the wires that exist in this house, but, to the technician’s disappointment, no one drops dead in convulsions.
We’re upset, because we don’t have a winner. Furthermore, we’re still thinking about the honest worker, who spent two hours, but didn’t get anywhere.
A couple of days later, an electrician, arranged by the property owner, turns up in an attempt to help the phone technician. However, prior to that, the technician calls the social worker-Italian teacher-handyman and judge of the game “who touches the wire dies”, who must be available at any time.
Hallo, it’s the technician here. I’ll be in the house in 10min-
But you said you’re getting here for 5pm-
Yes, I know, but I skipped some appointments-
With a piece of bread in my mouth, I jump in a car and 15min later I arrive back at the house where the technician is already working with a probe.
Shit! I cannot find where the probe comes from. It’s impossible. Go to the other room and look for it!
It’s here – I say pointing at the place where the probe comes from.
Fucking hell! Last time, I spent two hours looking for it-
Meanwhile, I finished chewing on my piece of bread and felt it traveling down my stomach ready to get digested. Pondering, almost grunting upon his amusing incapability.
The electrician arrives just on time.
It’s all done – technician says – I solved the problem. Can I leave you to close the electrical boxes? – he points at me and turns to the poor electrician – All of them are the same and if one of them disappears no one cares –
This leaves the electrician speechless, but I try to explain that he’s right. He’s a decent working man, he regularly does his share of overtime, he asks me kindly for help finding the probe, because he’s convinced that none of the black guys in the house would be able to help. He must be an idol!
But that’s not all. Work must be done properly. You must be able to commit to it. Two hours later, while I was teaching at another centre, he calls me again:
I forgot that you have to sign the invoice. Where can I find you? –
I’m by Ghivizzano railway station, can you get here? –
Yes, I have to come to the area anyway –
His time is too precious of course and he will never bother to come inside the station. He calls me again:
I’m just outside –
I left the beggars and free Wi-Fi users, for which we have to pay, and I go outside in a search of the precious technician, who could by now be almost be my friend on Facebook. I finally found him 15min later, exactly on the opposite place from where we agreed to meet. He was working with the electrical unit, to the limits of his competence. As any decent worker, he is very busy, so he quickly hands me over the paper to sign. I mumbled some words of appreciation to him, but suddenly his face drops, he gets angry, he leaves his priceless electronic unit unattended and he mumbles something back to me, which I don’t understand.
My teachaaaaaa! What’s going on? Where have you been? –
I’ve just kindly told that gentleman to go to hell –
Stefano Elmi (words)
Simone Togneri (illustrations)