Sunday, November 15, 2009

Getting a good deal ... 8/05/09

I did start to make headway this week with all the people we are having to deal with (painters, builders, technicians, electricans, carpenters ... and their corresponding lingo - pushing my Italian to the limit). We went to Marco the glass maker today at 2pm in the next town and there wasn’t much traffic because all the good locals were lunching punctually. He showed us all his lovely prints on the glass and I kept asking for the preventiva (the quote) but to no avail until he had shown us all the beautiful concoctions then we went back to the reception room where his uncle was and he came out with the unrealistic figure of €1100. He went bright red, poor guy, when he saw our faces and the uncle started crumbling 'Ah ma che vuoi, c’è la tela il vetro il lavoro di …'. I said, 'Yeah sure that’s fine, but we’re wasting our time cos we don’t have that budget available - that is why I have been asking you all along. Anyway, we have a quote for €600 from elsewhere and we’ll just have to stick with that.‘

SO immediately the calculator was produced and he started writing things down and I got out my pen and paper and started going through each item: glass cost, print cost, smooth edge cost etc and we got it down to €530. Ridiculous. Marco listens to me and I joked, look all this vocab is new but be patient cos I need to know what I am dealing with and paying for and my husband relaxed more, because usually he gets a bit uptight when I don’t understand. He seems to think the fact that I learnt to speak quite fluent Italian in Tuscany a few years ago should have equipped me for the technical jargon of glass, plumbing, painting, awning fitting etc.

Back at Pachamama the awning fitters arrive and my heart sinks. I know by the look of the equipe that they are going to make a hash of it. Two small teenagers with their jeans half way down their asses and their designer white pants underneath yanking them up as they hauled the awning up into our terrace. The sun beats all afternoon on our kitchen wall and patio door creating a kind of greenhouse effect in our house. So the plan is to attach the awning and screen ourselves from the ferocious rays. They explained they were going to attach a thing that would make the awning extend straight out (as they have a very narrow wall to attach it to and an arch to fix it over and uneven measurements as the wall is not straight. Not a job for amateurs). The aiuto-cuoco came as translator as the teens hadn’t been able to explain themselves the day before (speaking a mix of slang and Sicilian dialect) feeling very important in his temporary new role. The older man joked about having to explain things several times to me, 'No problem you have to pay me in the end so you must be happy, and I said 'Yeah, because you are going to go off and leave me with this thing on my wall.' They then said I was a pleasure to deal with since the locals would be screaming at them by now. (One of our friends told me the only way to achieve anything in Sicily was by shouting and getting angry and making a huge fuss. But I stil had the sinnking feeling that they would make a botched job.

Back to Pachamama and the cashier man has come with a new machine, specially for us. A couple of buttons which give the scontrino (receipt) and the fattura (tax receipt)and all sorts of fiscal necessities and with a long fiscal memory. How long I enquire cos we aren't going to be here that long. 10 years he is proud to tell us, 3million scontrini you can do, 100 per day or something. I can’t think that long in Italian fiscal terms, it boggles my mind but I do need to know the price. €2000 and something he tells us and I say 'OK, no chance we don’t have that, what else have you got?' And we mention the little €600 machine he had in his office the other day. So again I cut straight through the crap of the exposition, how these Sicilians love to talk about the wonders of their wares, and how my husband loves to listen! But we have no time for that. The new potential cook has arrived so we go upstairs to chat and he had good ideas today and the aiuto-cuoco came up too and didn’t talk too much. But then I got the call to the house for the awning men and so I sent the cook to see what was missing in the kitchen and took the aiuto-cuoco with me. The teeenagers looked a bit worried but nothing compared to the depression settling into their dad’s dark eyes. He was all twitchy and squinty with nervousness. 'It doesn’t fit,' he said dismally. 'It won’t roll out the full way cos it gets stuck on the wall that extends perpendicular to our house façade.' Oh God, just as I thought. They tried to suggest that we could leave it at that and the sun getting through at htat hour was not so strong,! I said in the summer it is bloody roasting and what was the point of getting the thing fitted to my lovely wall and covering the lovely arch if it doesn’t work. The aiuto-cuoco assessed the scene rapidly and said he’d send my husband to me. I knew it by the look of them, what a haimes. They tried the ‘sure the sun isn’t too strong at this time’ on him too and he was even swayed for a minute but I said, 'look it is on the window and the door' ie the glass and the aluminium which heats up massively. No good at all.

You never new what new difficulty each day will bring round here ...

Weary Dolores

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