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.
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.
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.
Me: Umm, I’m calling about the washing machine? Spodris said to call you?
Me: AM I GETTING A NEW WASHING MACHINE THIS WEEK?
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?