It all started when his washing machine stopped working, no doubt a victim of the power cuts that are the daily life of the Lebanese, variations in the power sources: the neighborhood generator, then the electricity that we called “of the State” to distinguish her from the others, then that of the solar panels that her children had installed on the roof of the building – which had caused tensions with the other co-owners on the place to which each was entitled for its panels.
In short, the alternation of the various currents and the play in the voltages that this induces damaged his washing machine which began to cough, to drum and then stopped. A few days later, his son bought him a new one, extremely sophisticated, full of options, ecological, economical and silent, but in front of which his mother and her Filipino housekeeper found themselves a little helpless. In the meantime, a repairman had managed to restart the old washing machine. The lady found herself with two machines on her arms. It was then that his handyman, who is Sri Lankan, shyly asked him if he could get the old machine back. She gave it to him happily. He took her down the stairs with the help of the caretaker (because the rules of the condominium forbade any form of moving by the elevator) then transported her in a small car with a trunk that was too small. But two days later, it was the new, high-performance machine that broke down. The lady thought of a spell or a curse. She didn’t know that overly sophisticated washing machines are even more vulnerable to the vagaries of electrical currents and the irregularity of their voltage. A repairman was called in again, and in the meantime the Sri Lankan handyman, delicate and attentive, declared that he would return the old machine to his boss. She protested in vain that it was out of the question, that ” giving is giving and taking back is stealing “, the old household appliance came back, in the same car, posed askew in the undersized trunk, then back up the stairs. Except that when he arrived, the repairman was on the landing and had just repaired the new machine.
The lady was used to the stubbornness of her handyman, to whom she never ceased to reproach his excess of kindness and politeness which made him lose sight of his own interests in life. She was still grumbling about it as she got into the car. And then she was surprised to hear her driver ask her if he could get the washing machine back, since the handyman didn’t want it. She found him cheeky but replied that he had only to manage with his friend. Then she immediately bit her fingers, because she knew that it was the driver who would win the case and that the other would give in, out of shyness, too much courtesy and kindness.
When she returned that evening, she learned that the handyman had indeed left the machine with the driver. But also that during its descent, the aircraft had slipped and tumbled down a flight of stairs. She couldn’t suppress a smile of satisfaction, and thought it was good for the driver. Then she blamed herself, felt guilty, and the next day, in the car, she inquired if the washing machine was working – ready, for the sake of mortification, to listen to the driver, who was talkative, rant about the appliances, their brands and their qualities. But he replied that no, it didn’t work, neither at home nor at the handyman’s because it only worked if there was “state” electricity, and it didn’t work. there were none. “You don’t have a subscription to a generator? », inquired the landlady. The driver said yes, but it was expensive, he couldn’t afford more than five amps, and washing machines don’t start with five amps. And he told his boss a once-told story about an émigré who had returned from the Americas in the 1920s, bringing as a gift to his fiancée’s family a huge electric gramophone, the ones with an amp like an ear. standing elephant, but which was of no use because at the bride’s house, at that time, there was not yet electricity. The gramophone has become a trinket, he concludes, laughing heartily. Like the washing machine.