Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Paris Journal: La rondelle de chien (un interlude léger)

The dog washer (a light interlude)

By Moristotle

Monday, the day I published “Je vote France Insoumise,” I received the envelope a part of whose address is shown here. It contained a check from our friend whose Montmartre apartment we stayed in, to reimburse us for some repair work we had paid for out of pocket in June.
    Shortly after purchasing the apartment, in 2006, our friend engaged a contractor to do a complete remodel, including gutting the kitchen and installing new appliances and new “designer” cabinets. Well, soon after we arrived this time I noticed that the handle on the facing for the dishwasher door was loose. It was so loose, in fact, that when I inadvertently grabbed and yanked it, thinking it was the handle to the cutlery drawer to the right of the dishwasher, it completely detached.
    While I was able to tighten a handle on one of the drawers, I couldn’t see how to do the same for the facing on the dishwasher door without getting inside the actual door.
    Since I was a rank amateur and a clumsy handyman at best, our friend was hesitant to let me proceed. He preferred to arrange for a repairman to call and take care of it. We agreed on some days when my wife and I could be “at home,” and he and the repairman set a date. The repairman would call me the day before to confirm, then, voilà!, show up as arranged.

It went like clockwork, except that…well, have you ever tried to have a telephone conversation with someone whose language you are marginally skilled in, and who is marginally skilled in your language? If so, then you can understand that, after I put the phone down the day before, I was not 100% sure what was going to happen.
    And then he showed up about an hour early, so I tried to ask through the door in French, “Who is it?” I said, “Qui es?”
    In person, it turned out that he knew more English than I knew French, so we were able to communicate pretty well, and he was a very pleasant man.
    One misgiving I had had about the whole thing is that our friend had asked me to try to get an estimate from the repairman, on the phone, how much the repair might cost. Well, that didn’t work at all, and I understood his French well enough (or did he say this in English?) to understand that he couldn’t give an estimate because he would have to see the facing to “assess” it. This was a bit suspect, for our friend had successfully emailed the repairman several photos I had taken, so he should have made a pretty good assessment already. Hence, my fear that he might try to overcharge for the work. We had 200€ ($224) ready, just in case.

    But he charged only 50€, which delighted us, but left me wondering, after he had left, how a repairman who had to come several miles across Paris, in Paris traffic, could have charged less than a repairman would have charged in my small town in North Carolina?

I save until last the part of this story that is the reason I’m telling it at all.
    Inside the envelope from our friend, besides the check, was a thank-you card with the inscription inside, “Everyone loves dinner at our house!” and, on the front, this photograph:
Thank-you card titled “The Dog Washer”
    What I loved about this, besides its involving dogs, with whom I almost always feel a friendly connection (unless, for example, they are being led around an airport by a security agent sniffing out bombs or drugs), was the creative artistry of our friend in choosing such a clever, apt card for the occasion and addressing the envelope as though I were a dishwasher repair contractor, or somebody who had performed a much more skilled task than opening the door to led the repairman in, handing him his money, and seeing him out.
    Our friend is, in addition to being kind and thoughtful, an artist in expressing it.

Copyright © 2017 by Moristotle


  1. The white dog looks like my dag Del.

  2. Now that is a man in business who truly understands good business made personal. I tip my hat to him. And thanks for sharing an uplifting experience, Morris.

    1. Vic, I'll make sure Mark sees your comment. Thank you!