Will I get a happy ending?

I think that I might finally be nearing the light at the end of my washing machine tunnel. For those who missed the original post, I’ve had a broken washing machine for close to two months now, thanks to an exploding pair of knickers.



The lack of certainty in the first sentence is intentional – it’s because of what I like to call “The Latvian Factor”. The Latvian Factor basically dictates that you might eventually get what you originally wanted, but it will be later than planned, more expensive than planned, and you’ll have to prod and poke the Latvian into action at every step of the way.

The general lack of urgency in Latvia is evidenced by the speed at which the average Latvian moves; I would equate it with the speed of a severely hungover slug. (Actually, I used to live in a basement flat in Dublin. Every night, a slug  -I called him ‘Sluggie’ – would somehow get in, do a lap of the apartment and then find his way out again, leaving me with a silvery trail on the carpet when I woke up in the morning. I reckon if Sluggie and a Latvian had ‘raced’ each other around my flat, the Latvian would still have been on the carpet in the morning…)

Anyway, back to the washing machine. A friend of mine had found a father-son operation that fixes this particular brand. He went into the shop and explained briefly what the problem was but couldn’t remember the model, so the father told him to email him and he’d come out and have a look at it. So he did, giving my contact details. I waited a couple of days, but there was no response.

Giving up on that route, I decided to text the house manager, Spodris. After several texts and phone calls with no response, I emailed my landlord, Jānis.

Jānis: Call Spodris – 2xxxxxxx

Great, so the house manager had changed his number and nobody had told me. This is another Latvian trait – they’ll only give you information when you ask a direct question. So I guess, from now on, I’ll be emailing Jānis every couple of weeks to see if Spodris has changed his number…

Spodris showed up the next day, only 45 minutes late. He went into the bathroom and squinted at the washing machine, then hefted the front of it into the air.

Spodris: Hold it. 

Me: What?

Spodris: Hold the washing machine up. 

Me: Erm, OK. 

As I grabbed it, he put his head under it and started looking around.

Me: You must trust me a hell of a lot to let me hold a washing machine over your head. 

Spodris: Har har.

Me: (cold sweat) 

Eventually he emerged and declared he had no idea what the problem was.

Me: OK, so what happens now?

Spodris: I don’t know.

I gave him the business card for the washing machine repair place and suggested he call them. Amazingly, they answered and an appointment was arranged for the next day.

The next day, an old man showed up with a tool box – only around 15 minutes late. He spent about half an hour taking the machine apart and putting it back together again.

Old Jānis: Can’t fix. Need part. 

Me: OK, how long?

Old Jānis: Two weeks. 

Me: Sigh. 

The highest mountain in Latvia

The highest mountain in Latvia

After several trips to the launderette in the meantime, I emailed the service place after two weeks. No response. So I called Spodris and asked him to find out what was happening.

Spodris: Yeah, they can’t fix it. 

Me: (Growl) OK, so what happens now? 

Spodris: Jānis will buy you a new one next week. I’ll bring it over.

‘Next week’ was this week so, on Monday, I texted Spodris to see when he was coming.

Spodris: Call Jānis. 

Suspicious that this was not real life but some Latvian version of “Punk’d”, I called Jānis.

Jānis: Can’t talk now. I’ll call back later.

So, I waited for around 24 hours but there was no call. I managed to get hold of him this afternoon.

Me: Hi, Jānis. It’s Linda.

Jānis: Yes.

Me: Umm, I’m calling about the washing machine? Spodris said to call you?

Jānis: Yes. 


Jānis: Yes. Friday – or Sunday. 

Perhaps now, you have a better understanding of my initial skepticism. What do you think? Will I get my happy ending?


Related post: https://expateyeonlatvia.wordpress.com/2014/04/20/my-knickers-have-got-me-in-a-twist/


About BerLinda

Adjusting to life in Germany, after living in Latvia for four years. Should be easy, right?
This entry was posted in Expat, Humor, Humour, Latvia, Work and business and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

158 Responses to Will I get a happy ending?

  1. Alisa says:

    I love this post. Keep on rockin` Linda!

  2. You will eventually learn how to live without clothes and at that point all your frustrations will melt away. If you’re struggling with the concept, I recommend applying yourself to Buddhism.

  3. LAMarcom says:

    You could turn this into a song: “I got dem ole’ time washtub blues again momma”
    With apologies to Janis Joplin of course.
    Sincerely, I do hope you get this all sorted.

  4. rower says:

    any progress already, or we are still waiting for a miracle to happen ?
    to bad, i’m in Sarkandaugava and on foot ATM, we could let you use our washing machine with no problems… i guess, at least some of your students should be in friends with you – they could definitely help with this matter. i imagine, they will even be staying in line to get you visiting them (and entertain you, while your stuff is washed). ,)

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha! None of them have offered yet 😉 And I’m still waiting for my miracle – first it was supposed to be Friday or Sunday, then today, now it’s Thursday afternoon. F****** pissed off to be honest – pardon my French 😉

    • Expat Eye says:

      I’m going to be visiting Sarkandaugava soon actually – doing a final district challenge with John 😉 Maybe I should bring a sack of dirty clothes with me 😉

      • Mārtiņs says:

        Hey, don’t miss Bolderāja district. Bārs “Paradīze”!
        A dress code: trainers. Also for women in that district in order not to stand out.

        Also Vakarbuļļi is a nice place, it’s where Lielupe flows into see. Bus 3 for Bolderāja and bus 36 for Vakarbuļļi from Bolderāja. Give it a try!

      • Ēriks says:

        2 suggestions for Sarkandaugava:
        1) Museum of Latvian Culture “Dauderi”. Haven’t been inside the museum myself, but the building which was the manor of the founder of Aldaris. And the park around it is quite cool. Cool meaning that it stands out in the overall bleakness of soviet block houses that surround it :D.
        Right next to it – Aldaris factory. I know they don’t make the best of beers, but it’s worth a visit i guess, not sure if they have tours or something like that though..
        2) Psychiatric hospital on Tvaika street (if you have the nerve :D). I have no idea if you’re allowed in the hospital itself (propably not), but the premises around it are free to roam. There are remnants of the second Kaisergarden there (bult in the 18th century, by order of tsar Peter I).
        There are a couple of interesting graffitis scattered around as well (on Priežu street) or old factories (Sarkandaugava was one of the first industrial districts in Riga) if you’re interested. Unfortunately, can’t think of any pubs/bars to recommend, yes there are some here, but i’m not sure how “cosy” or “not getting my skull cracked” they are. 😉

      • Expat Eye says:

        Thanks for the recommendations! Wandering around a psychiatric hospital sounds right up my street 😉 And don’t worry, we quite like the shady bars 🙂

      • Mārtiņs says:

        The post was on my birthday. 13th of October. I did have vodka with my friends and cold-swim afterwards. 2 extremes a day. Also a tae-kwon-do training before.
        The bar Paradīze was renamed. I was real shady before – fights, a foreign business man robbing (he was traced, then put in a van, undressed and thrown out naked). Kind of Western adventures. Now it’s more glamour.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Jesus, that’s the glamorous reincarnation?! I can’t imagine what it was like before 😉

  5. aedoxsey says:

    Your experiences of trying to get a washing machine fixed are slightly worrying due to the fact that I will be renovating a house shortly.

  6. Missed the rest of the msg… just hoping that you have more luck than drunk dead slugs! Keep us posted on your ‘happy ending!’ 😉

  7. Speed of a hungover slug?? Had to laugh… when my father made a batch of beer that… well… didn’t work, he’s put it out in the garden for the slugs… they’d get so drunk they’d drown!


  8. KomaGawa says:

    I just found your blog. I am wasting an enjoyable amount of time reading older posts, but I have a lot of questions about daily life, and the cost of living in Latvia. and so on.
    1. So what is the cost of a single unattached person for an apartment in Lativia, I suppose it has to be Riga for starters.
    2. What is the cost of utilities?,
    3. What is the cost of food?
    4. What is the cost of reliable internet service?

    • Expat Eye says:

      Hey, thanks for the message! So, I would say rent – anywhere from €300 up. Utilities – depends on the landlord 😉 At the moment, I’m paying around €20, not including electricity which is around €30. I don’t eat that much so my monthly shop is also around €30, as is internet and cable TV.

      • KomaGawa says:

        So I used a figure of 500 euros, because I think we all underestimate our expenses, and that is almost exactly what I am paying in Japan!!!! I would really like to take a Russian language class from the high class Swedish language school which has a site in Riga. I read a lot of your blogs. but the cost is rather disappointingly high. So, I have changed to vladovistok, much cheaper. Oh, I should say that I am studying Russian because I am suddenly tired of living in Japan and want to move to a cheaper place for a while. My pension is miniscule, and my savings are modest.. I also am tired of teaching English!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So, what I am going to do next is still undecided. IN the meantime I will continue to read, I have been corresponding with a farming famly in Latvija for more than 10 years and I have sent them kimonos and food,, and games, and English teaching materials over the years to their children.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Aw, that’s really nice! Yeah, Latvia isn’t as cheap as people think – or Riga, anyway. Best of luck with your studies and finding a new job!

      • KomaGawa says:

        I have recently noticed that there is a high class Swedish language company with Russian classes in Riga, I think. But their prices are a little high. Do you know of cheaper ones?

      • Expat Eye says:

        As far as I know, both Skrivanek and New Horizons do Russian courses – not sure of the prices though.

      • You spend only 30 EUR for food per month? Do you eat at all? And where do you shop?

      • Expat Eye says:

        €30 a week – roughly – maybe a little more. I do my ‘big’ shop in Rimi, then just pop to my local Elvi for smaller stuff 😉

      • rower says:

        rent also depents largely on landlord. sometimes you can get a real deal (i’ve had a 3-room apt for 70€ + utilities myself). 50€ + utilities for 1-room apt is absolutely findable. utilities cost usually is outside rent, but it also depends (had a 2-rom apt for ~150e, which _included_ utilities except electricity). decent internet in most “sleepbox” areas is below 15€. one can get good deals there also – like under 10€ per month _and_ first half year for free, although, then the speed could be 10-20 Mbits. also for ~10€ one can have 3G modem with unlimited connectivity (which means that your laptop will have internets even in forest or on the beach). electricity – depends on usage – with LED illumination and without TV-set and electrical water-boilers you could easily get under 15€. yes, laundering machine is an electrical water-boiler 🙂 for food – i rarely get under 50€/week (coffee, cakes, late supper in city, lots of beer)…

  9. Eventually the smell of your laundry will cause others to complain and you’ll have your new machine.

  10. Mārčuks says:

    A bit offtopic.
    Linda, You must try this.
    Maybe this makes You to love trees. 😀

    • Expat Eye says:

      That is just freaking bizarre 😉 And it just makes me want to correct his English more than hug a tree. “Save Tree. Save Earth.” Sigh. 😉

  11. mmarinaa says:

    Hahaha. I think that’s just landlords everywhere. My last apartment’s AC stopped working in July. JULY! IN THE MIDDLE EAST! And I left the country and then came back in August and it was still broken. I was staying at a friend’s place, and would get sent over to the hotbox of an apartment to check if it had been fixed or let workers in or some shit for weeks and it was excruciating how useless everyone involved in the process was. It was the worst month of my life.

  12. barbedwords says:

    Your landlord sounds suspiciously like our Italian landlord; when we complained about a leaking window, he replied, ‘It’ll stop raining in a month or so and then it won’t be a problem’…
    Maybe you should start buying new clothes and take the cost off your rent?? 🙂

  13. Back when I was in university, exam time meant that there were people who wore their underwear for 3 days, turned it inside out and wore it for another 3 days. And yes they would volunteer this information. I wonder if those guys would even notice if their washing machine was broken.

  14. Anna says:

    I used to have my laundry sent out and delivered back in New York. Oh the good old days…

    • Expat Eye says:

      And to think I’ve been called a princess 😉
      32 degrees in your neck of the woods today! Enjoy! 🙂

      • Anna says:

        I’m getting a nice tan on my morning commute! Shorts and tank for the office today? Did I mention that I’m a very powerful executive? 😛 (That’s when I’m not too busy being a princess!)

      • Expat Eye says:

        Nice! Yeah,my tan is coming along nicely too – love it 🙂

  15. Aussa Lorens says:

    Ha! This reminds me of when my wifi went out in China. Terrrrriiiiible. Same thing happened with my hot water– I ended up just boiling water to fill a bath until I found someone who spoke Chinese and could rescue me.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha! The things we do, right?! I think the language is an issue – my washing machine Latvian isn’t up to much 😉 It’s all about knowing the right guy – and clearly I don’t!

  16. astrameklere says:

    Quite Latvian business like, I also don’t understand these people around sometimes… even being Latvian. But Linda, try some laundry service – they are all around and also accept for washing on weight. It is not expensive. 🙂

  17. isbergamanda says:

    Oh, I feel you! I went 47 days without internet in my house here in Venezuela because “It’s CANTV’s problem!” I just made it a daily part of my conversation and therefore everyone’s problem until it was fixed (well now it works a few days a week at least!). Fingers crossed for you!

    -Amanda at http://teachingwanderlust.com/

    • Expat Eye says:

      Thanks! I’ll update the post after the weekend!
      I can live without a washing machine (for a little while) but no internet!? Oh my god, you poor thing!

  18. pollyheath says:

    I feel your pain. I once waited for about a month (in winter) to get a broken window fixed. Everyone was soooooo leisurely about it.

  19. Diana says:

    If you ever come live in Italy, you will do just fine……they are the same here! Anyway…I much prefer June’s happy ending…and if you WERE in Italy that probably WOULD be your happy ending…..you know…plumbers and all….(for the Italians it is the plumbers…for us Americans…the mailmen)

  20. By the way- was that guy really Spodris or you made it up?
    Because if he really is, then it’s f#$%&g hilarious- guy named Shiny working as a house manager thou house is not so shiny after all 😀

  21. linnetmoss says:

    Hmm, Latvians are reminiscent of building contractors everywhere…

  22. Holly mother of Jesus! Did they rob some museum to get THAT washing machine for you?! No wonder they can’t fix it. To fix that eyewitness of dinosaurs you’ll gonna need another one to be used as donor.

    You can get bad landlord everywhere in the world. Well, except Antarctica- they don’t have landlords there. My washing machine was repaired by Latvian in one hour on the next they I called in time convenient to me. So it has nothing to do with nationality.

  23. This principle came from USSR. There it was called ПДО – Подожди Выполнять, вдруг Отменят. In English it would mean – Don’t hurry to do a task, it may be cancelled soon. 😀 So now you see – this ain’t Latvians fault. This is consequence of occupation. Them bloody Russians are guilty in Latvians attitude to any work. 😀 😀
    But if seriously – average Latvian men do nothing without a stick. You poke him – he is bitching and working, you leave him alone – he keeps bitching but stops working. It doesn’t apply to those Latvian men who aren’t average of course. 🙂 But in your particular situation it seems to me that you should remind about yourself at least every day to get your washing machine before you leave. 🙂

  24. LOL!! Love you comparison of a Latvian to Sluggie! That is pretty slow is Sluggie is declared the winner. 🙂 Sounds like you better find another alternative for washing your clothes!

    • Expat Eye says:

      I’m feeling optimistic today – this probably won’t last 😉 Thought I might get in trouble for the Sluggie comparison, but maybe people agree with me… 😉

  25. Hope you get a new machine soon, no washing machine is a total pain! Also thanks for the warning, I’m going to be very careful loading my washing from now on lest some undies go rogue and explode!

  26. bevchen says:

    Well, if you were in Germany you definitely would not be getting a new washing machine on Sunday. That would require someone to do actual work on the sacred day of rest 😉

    • Expat Eye says:

      I’d probably get it on Friday – which would be better all round! Though I do want to watch the tennis tomorrow… will have to go somewhere local so I can run back!

  27. June says:

    I think “happy ending” means something completely different to me. It may, indeed, involve exploding knickers, Latvian plumbers and washing machines but the end result is different, methinks. Hope you get yours!

  28. nancytex2013 says:

    Please just leave THAT PLACE!!!

  29. Mārtiņš says:

    My washing machine was taken away for a half of year when a really decent looking man promised to fix it in 2 to 4 weeks. He ordered a special part for Candy (the brand of a washing machine) from Italy. Then it turned out that the part ordered and delivered was for Candy washing machine but irrelevant for the specific model (a newer one had already been out in the market); then there was reordering; Easter holidays, promises that soon you’ll have everything. When I had given up the hope after the endless promises and the most recent one, voilà he drove to my house, unloaded my machine and installed it to all the pipes. I paid him 5 Ls less. I shame on me that only Ls 5 (out 60). Maybe I should have said 30 or you can keep the machine. But he felt ashamed was sorry (or was a talented actor) so I put up with the situation.
    So you are very unlucky if you have your mobile phone broken down and even more unlucky if it is a washing machine.
    Not a big deal if it is internet or your Pc though.

    • Expat Eye says:

      God, that sounds like a nightmare! But strangely familiar! I’m sure you’re not the only one!

      • Mārtiņš says:

        He felt nervous every time I called him (on a weekly basis). And he did pick up the phone every time I called which I found unusual. Mysteries of Latvia.
        If Italians are lazy too I got a co-production in service where 2 countries are good at. Must have doubled the time of waiting (I wonder if I transported my washing machine to Italy by own and had it serviced there, took it back – would it be quicker than a half of year or I would have become an expat? What kept me back was the fact that I heard shaking and transporting does no good for it. Roads of Latvia is another story).

      • Expat Eye says:

        Your washing machine might have been an expat – it could have started a blog 😉

  30. Baiba says:

    Poor thing. But don’t you have a friend, who would lend you his or her washing machine once a week? I just imagine, if someone from my friends would have a problem like that, he or she would always be welcome. And I surely would call Spodris, just to tell him, what I think about him:)

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha, he’s actually a nice guy – just a bit… 😉
      Most of my friends live further than the launderette and I look like a tool with a big black sack over my back 😉

      • Baiba says:

        Friends with a car? I just imagine, that it would be fun. Of course, Valmiermuizas alus should be involved. Or some cold Soave. Mission “Saving Lindas knickers “

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha ha! I can see the movie now – or at least a sitcom episode! To be honest, I’m kind of odd (you may have gathered!) – I hate troubling other people with this kind of stuff! Let’s just hope it’s sorted by the weekend! 🙂

  31. lizard100 says:

    I reckon you need to go round to Janis’s house and start using his washer. Or failing that Spodris’s house.

  32. Oh, I could bet that you are not getting new washing machine this week. It’s just… Doesn’t seem very likely 😉 if I do remember anything about Latvians 😉

  33. If you want a happy ending, go to a massage parlor.

    Just kidding.

    Maybe you should just stick your dirty clothes in the bathtub (or similar large receptacle), fill with water, add detergent, stir for 30 minutes with a canoe paddle or random tree branch, rinse the whole mess out, and hang everything to dry.

  34. Lāsma says:

    This is so typical. I used to wait for handymen for hours and they never bothered calling me to say that they were going to be late. They never apologised either. Ordering new furniture was a nightmare as well, the deliveries were usually late, they didn’t respond to my calls etc.

  35. Bryan says:

    This is why you shouldn’t wash your knickers. And things are not always that fast here either. I waited two months for someone to come fix up my shower.

  36. CatLady says:

    To be fair, in my corner of Surrey things are pretty much the same. And no Polish / Latvian / Romanian workman in sight. Which leads me to thinking that the English are … Well, very Latvian.

  37. I think it is too early to predict whether you will have a happy ending or not. I’d say there will need to be several more weeks of phonecalls/visit by ‘repair’ men/trips to the launderette, before anything will actually happen. By that time you may have left the country!

  38. noveerotaaja says:

    Maybe only you are treated like that? I usually get everything much faster back in Latvia – just need to ask “uhhm, maybe you could do an exception, I really need it urgently?” etc.!

    • Expat Eye says:

      Yep, and maybe I’m the only one who sees leopard print, and the only one people are rude to, and the only one who gets crap customer service, and the only one who… 😉

      • Mārtiņš says:

        There’s another approach used by older Russian women (Latvian women just don’t have that temperament and hardiness (you know – man of the old stock)) from USSR. They start scandalizing, shouting, insulting and if needed – swearing (in Russian you can express yourself better than in English in that). The strategy was usually applied to house manager’s office (you need spectators for the show and public humiliation) which are mistaken in bills or sth. Then you get things done very fast. The only side-effect is grunting that you’re not normal. However, how to react to an abnormal, no-attention service?

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha, I’m well used to being thought of as ‘not normal’ here – in fact, I take it as a compliment 😉

  39. Has he arranged for the broken machine to be taken away… just a thought…!

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