Friday, December 12, 2008

A Knock at the Door

So when we first moved in (and then about ten times thereafter), our well-meaning landlady—who at least Trofie Wife has decided should be our adopted Italian nonna for the year—repeatedly warned me about not answering the door for anyone except her: “trust no one.” This suggestion seemed a bit, well, absurd (and not very Christian, for someone who covers the house in pictures of her welcoming lord), given the need to let in messengers of important packages from overseas and whatnot. Yes, we’ve all seen the Saturday Night Live shark skit with Chevy Chase and Lorraine Newman—check the peephole before you open the door and don’t let in any land sharks or other strangers whose official purposes cannot be confirmed. But she kept stressing the matter, concerned that I was going to be taken advantage of in some way. Not only was I to be mindful of my own front door but the building’s as well—“don’t let anyone follow in behind you.”

Well, on two separate occasions this week, I finally figured out what the fuss was all about after I encountered not one, but two, traveling salesmen. The first was my own hopeful fault. The doorbell rang while I was mid-(tooth)brush, and although I could have let it slide, with the giddiness of a camper thinking that a package was waiting for me at the office, I opened the door, saw no one there and shouted out “ciao” to the people who were already heading down the steps. The two men came back upstairs and proceeded to try to explain their service to me (all the while pointing at their official photo ID badges). I said the standard “I don’t understand,” and said I spoke English but one of the guys asked if I spoke French. I said “un peu,” and then proceeded to not understand most of what he was saying, which raised new concerns about the state of my French. Turns out they wanted to clean the floors or provide some type of maid service. I finally begged off with “the landlady lives over there; I’m just a guest” and they left. While returning from an errand run the next day, I had another such encounter in the lobby. After the door of one apartment had been closed in his face, the salesman tried to go after me. After my “I don’t understand; I speak English,” he launched into, “great, I do, too!” and then tried to explain his frozen foods service to me. I quickly said, “I don’t use frozen foods” (total lie). “I cook” (as if that prohibits you from using frozen foods!) and then ran up the stairs. I guess I will be more mindful of the crazy commission sharks (“Plumber, m’am!”) on the loose in the building in the future.

In other apartment oddities, it seems that everything is breaking around here, mostly due to age and the fact that all the broken things seem to be a) made of plastic or some other non-biodegradable yet otherwise easily destructible material and b) on at least their second round of breakage, evidenced by noticeable fracture scars. I purchased some crazy glue and went to work on the shower “telephone” (first the plastic casing fell off, followed by the spout, after the pressure had almost completely puttered out, flying out at me mid-shower; that required a screwdriver), paper towel dispenser (totally Martello’s fault, after he forcefully leaned on it; but turns out it was definitely not the first time it had broken), one of the hooks inside the closet (totally Trofie Wife’s fault, as I had forced just one more thing to rest on it and then it went snap), my umbrella (fixed/replaced by the company in the States yet it had broken again by the time we arrived), and picture of the Holy Family (not the Schneersons) at prayer over our bed, which apparently fell behind the bed, along with the palm fronds (didn’t realize that iconography repair was part of Trofie Wife’s job description, but only seems respectful to do, especially after having explained to the landlady that we were not Catholic nor Protestant; given this fact, she’ll likely be certo (sure) to check for extra signs of desecration when we depart and before she releases the security deposit). However, the one downside to my “Little Ms. Fix-It” act is that I can only reach heights so high. Martello’s going to have to deal with the curtain situation, as it is literally above my pay grade.

Baci e gelato,
Martello e Trofie Wife

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