Categorized | Work

More Spanish efficiency

Posted on 05 April 2011 by American expat!


A while ago, I wrote about how efficient the Spanish blue collar workers are. But now I have an exciting new story to share. Believe me, this one is so much better!

A few weeks ago, because of the way the air flows through this flat, one of the windows literally was blown out by the wind when I accidentally left the bedroom doors open. The wooden doors on the opposite end of the house open out onto a tiny balcony. The nails in the flimsy wood pieces that held the heavy glass part of one of the doors were sucked right out by the wind tunnel that formed, and the glass smashed onto the balcony railing and shattered onto the narrow pedestrian street below. Fortunately no one was on the receiving end of the falling glass shards. But it did grab the attention of the neighbors, who then called the owner and the fire department. (I was in class, so I came home to some serious mayhem.)

The owner of the flat arranged a repair company to come out the same day. Two guys showed up to  measure for new glass. Then they told me it would be ready in one week. Now, knowing how these things typically work, I did not even bother telling them I would not be in the country for the next 9 days. So I put plastic over the window and left.

After my return, it rained. It even hailed one day, sending little ice balls smacking against the plastic taped over the window in my living room. All so very relaxing. And still I had no phone call.

Finally, 12 days after original visit, the company called on a Monday to set an appointment for two days later. It rained the day of the appointment, so evidently that means they don’t work, so no one shows (or calls). Friday a man arrives at my door. He arrives empty handed.  The guy looked at the window, asked where the missing piece of wood was (um, it’s broken? It’s with the rest of the window in the trash?) and left. The purpose of this visit still eludes me.

He is supposed to call the next day to confirm returning either in the morning  or the following day in the afternoon. He doesn’t call.

I wait four more days.

Finally, my landlord calls to ask if I will be home that Friday for the company to come out. I say Yes. I am ready for a window. They show up one hour late, but with wood and glass and silicon. And then they display the level of expertise that is unfortunately what you can normally expect here:  They fumble about and remove nails from the old wood, then put tiny dots of silicon where the nails used to be, and reuse the old wood to hold in the glass. Even I, someone who is nowhere near a carpenter, know that six blobs of silicon on balsa wood is not strong enough to hold in a 15 pound lead glass window that sits at the end of a powerful wind tunnel. Hello. I’m guessing at the very least you should at least cover the wood with silicon? I stare open mouthed and try to wrap my head around how these guys are make it through life.

Hey, I’m not complaining, it could have been worse. For example (and there are so many examples to choose from!) recently a friend caught electrical transformer and subsequently his wall on fire. He had no electricity for over a month and, having all electrical power (no gas for hot water or stove) had to shower and cook at a friends house. The day the workmen arrived (one month later, remember), they arrived an hour late, immediately left for a one hour breakfast break, then left before the work was complete because they had another appointment. I think there were three more visits before all was said and done.

So let’s sum up. It took three weeks and three men to cut a piece of glass and a 2 foot piece of balsa wood and glue gun it all in place. And that wasn’t even an extreme example of inefficiency.

I just hope I don’t have any better stories than to share with you in the future.

PS As hair pullingly frustrating as all this sounds, this level of workmanship, responsiveness and efficiency is far better than the bureaucracy should you decide to legally reside here as an American. But that is another story.

4 Comments For This Post

  1. Trent Roider Says:

    Love this site and I will return.

  2. Andres Says:

    It seems that neither you nor your landlord deal with the correct people… Last month I scratched a glass table at night… I called my insurance company that same night, they came the following morning for taking measures and after 3 days I had a new glass table at home…

    There are other companies (of course, more expensive…) that change your windows in less than 24 hours…

  3. American expat! Says:

    I’m sure these companies exist (though this is the first I have ever heard of them) but they are not the norm. Evidently the insurance company was not willing to pay more for an urgent job, as THEY were paying and not the owner of the flat. Thus, I was assigned a typical company and I received the typical service that would be expected.

  4. Oxi Says:

    I just can say…hahahaha

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