Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Happy Hungarian

For some, the title of today's post may sound like an anomaly. My students tell me that there is no such thing as Hungarians' favorite pastime is whining. That is their continual comment, not my own experience. However, Balazs did have problems with an apathetic house manager and electrician when he called for us, creating a more than pleasant experience when the cheerful Hungarian electrician showed up at our door last night. Laszlo the electrician returned at 5:00 pm as promised. Balazs had written down all that he needed to know and he set off to work. Within forty-five minutes he had replaced the circuit breaker, hooked up the electric hot water heater under the kitchen sink, and changed our malfunctioning dimmer switches in the kitchen and living room. His final bill was 3,000 Huf LESS than what he estimated last night. We gave him an extra 2,000 Huf to ingratiate ourselves for when we may need him again. About three years ago, we had dimmer switches put in the kitchen and living room when we at the same time had the light fixtures changed and other electric work done. The electrician, one we lost contact with, went on his own to purchase all of the supplies he needed. What he returned with were dimmers with a sensor. They could be manipulated with a remote control; however, we did not realize this until he left. The way we found out was by using the remote on the television or DVD player, but also turning the lights on and then up and down in various lighting moods, but it never worked for turning them off without getting up and doing it manually. This was a cross we were willing to bear, but over time, something went wrong as it usually does. Remember electricity and I are each others nemesis. What eventually happened was that the lights would go on without any provocation from any remote. If someone sneezed, it would stimulate a Morse code light show with short and long bursts of illumination. If I could only remember dots and dashes from my boy scout days, I would be able to understand the signals that our living room was sending out to the street. The lights almost seemed to be taking revenge on us also as over time, they both would wait until we snuggled into bed at night and then they would alternately turn on and off in random patterns until we climbed out of bed to tap on the control pad repeatedly like training a puppy, hoping against hope that we could effectively get our desired results. Now we have regressed back to the simple on and off and even with low wattage bulbs, it is either a choice between darkness or stage lighting.

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