Friday, July 13, 2007

Artisan or Sans Art?

The first red flag should have been when the "artisan electricien" answered his mobile phone on the first ring and indicated that he could come right over. The reoccurring problem was a bank of halogen lights in the kitchen that only occasionally went on. At first, that is. Then they stopped coming on at all except for an initial flicker. They are connected to another bank of halogens that work fine. Bulbs were switched and tested and that simple fix was ruled out.

So when he arrived so quickly we overlooked the obvious: why wasn't he soooo busy that he could just barely squeeze us in? Instead we were delighted and illustrated the problem. A second red flag went up when he inadvertently hit his fist on the countertop and the suspect lights suddently went on and stayed on. A broad grin spread across his face as if he had just performed a miracle. Who am I to say he hadn't? I was just hoping that he would at least investigate it further. We had several other issues that needed attention, so it was agreed that he would return the following Monday at 8 am. All this was discussed in the most basic French, sign language and finger-pointing. He made notes and mumbled sufficiently to bolster our confidence.

He arrived promptly on Monday with his assistant artisan electricien and they pulled out trays of tools and started installing the chauffage de salle de bains (towel heater in the bathroom), fixing wiring on two other non-working heaters, and installing two additional outlets. Then they tackled the lights. He took the switch apart, wiggled the wires as he learned in his electricien's correspondence course, and voila!

Within a few hours of his departure, guess what? The lights were back on their normal schedule of dimly flickering on then going to sleep. Another phone call to the artisan electricien and he shows up a day or so later to conquer the problem once and for all. He focused on the wiring behind the switch and found a wire which seemed to have no function and promptly "abandonded" that wire. He dinked around with the swithch and eventually got all the lights to go and stay on. The outlet and swithch didn't fit quite right back into the wall, and he left it so that it rocked somewhat. But I could live with it as long as the lights worked.

This time I don't even know if he made it down the street before the lights stopped working....and the microwave plugged into another outlet that he never touched now didn't work. Apparently his rewiring of the abandonded wire now discarded the juice to the microwave outlet. It was now decision-making time: dare we call him back again, and if so, what will go wrong next? Does Doug try to fix it himself? Do we call another, a real, electricien and wait for several weeks?

Early the next morning Doug was hard at it, tearing into the junction box and transformer---all the places that M. Artisan Electricien passed over. The transformer was shorting out repeatedly, and after a few trips to the electromanager magasin, for a new switch, outlet and transformer, Doug had it all sorted out and reassembled. No parts and pieces left over unaccounted for. Several hours have gone by, and the lights are still working just fine.


Anonymous said...

This episode makes for very amusing commentary...but you must have the "patience of Job" to keep calling that "fool" back...while not being able to complain "massively and effectively" because of the language difference! I salute you for not committing any acts of violence...and I salute Doug for finally fixing everything the "fool" couldn't!

Happy Bastille Day!

Anonymous said...

We have the same electricien! (Arizona spelling is different.)
While he may show up at your place really fast I now know why it takes him so long to show up here.
I also know why he's so expensive...airfare!

What's on the menu for Bastille Day? Several restaurants in the Phoenix area are promoting the celebration with lots of Duck l'Orange and goat.

Noah said...

you should have hired me! I can pound countertops also. What a great way to make a living.