Opinion | Off the Cuff

As elusive as a will o’ the wisp

Resorting to mendicancy for a mending job

  • By Vanaja Rao
, Stone Editor
  • Published: 00:00 October 19, 2012
  • Gulf News

Many advertisements inviting immigration into a country ask for skilled labour such as draughtsmen, carpenters and plumbers. I always wondered why there was such a demand for these. Now I know why.

Having put up with some niggling problems at home such as a leaking faucet or a recalcitrant lock on a cupboard door for some time, I decided to do something about it.

A call was made to the building’s maintenance department.

First I had to wait until I was put through to the person concerned with my problem. After several minutes of listening to a taped message claiming that my call was important to them, they wanted to assure me of the best services available as one of the leading realty companies in town.

Finally, I heard a voice on the other end of the line asking me what I wanted. Launching into a detailed explanation of the many faults requiring repair, I stopped mid-sentence as I was asked to repeat myself.

I realised then that my torrent of words was the result of relief at having got through to someone at last. Slowing down, I recited the list of minor jobs that required their attention.

Next I was told that the plumber/carpenter/electrician would come the next morning. I was asked for time of availability. Since the hours I would be at home before I went to work were relatively few, I had to request them to keep to the fixed time.

The next morning I rushed through my morning routine and was dressed and waiting well before the appointed time. After 45 minutes of patient waiting, I made a call. The process was the same. Taped message, tall claims.

Slow torture

When I got through, I reminded them that the time of availability was almost over. That was when I was told that their workers had to attend to an ‘emergency’ somewhere else and would now make their appearance in the evening.

Keeping a firm grip on my temper, I explained that I would not be at home then. So, a time was fixed for the next morning. I was assured that this time they would turn up. At this point in time, I was still hopeful of their service.

Several mornings later, with no sightings of these elusive repairmen, my blood began a slow boil. The next time I rang, I let the words flow thick and fast, unlike the water from my tap.

When I stopped for breath, I was told they had sent someone, but I wasn’t at home. Of course, the time of their visit was not within the scheduled hours of availability. I was somehow made to feel that I had inconvenienced them!

Relaxing my death grip on my phone, I scrolled through my list of numbers and came across that of the ‘engineer’. The reason why this word is within single inverted commas is because I am not sure if the person concerned really has the requisite qualification. I mean there are so many here who call themselves ‘accountants’ with a mere B.Com degree in hand.

This time I changed tack completely — from termagant to timorous. I put on this helpless act and said I had nowhere else to turn. He was my last resort. My ‘saviour’ then promised instant relief. And, before I knew it, my doorbell was ringing and my problems were being solved.

I made it a point of calling the ‘engineer’ later and thanking him profusely for doing what should have been done anyway and without having to go higher up the chain of command. At the end of my fervent thank-you speech, he had just one question for me. How did I get hold of his mobile number?

Being true to my profession, I had the perfect answer: I never reveal my sources.

Gulf News
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