In Ukraine repairs to homes, cars, anything of that sort, are done hastily. They are meant not to solve or restore things to their natural working order, but merely to extend the life of what it is that’s failing, to simply band-aid it, if you will, so as to get a few more months of use out of it. God forbid you go out and just buy a new whatever it is and install it.
And so early this morning, after about six months since my last electrical outage, as I turned on my chainik to boil water for coffee, my outlet blew along with my breaker box on my hallway wall, emitting a small shower of sparks, turning my apartment dark.
And this during the weeks leading up to the centralized heat being turned on. The weather’s turned from very warm to chilly; the past week’s temperatures were in the 40s and 50s. My only salvation during the times in which the central heat is off is a small space heater that Peace Corps provides its volunteers. As I write this I’m layered in T-shirts, a sweatshirt, an old Pendleton flanel, two pairs of socks and wool cap. The temperature on the thermometer I keep near my desk reads 43 degrees. If I take a deep breath and exhale I can see my breath.
Also as this is being written there’s a repairman pounding away at something in the hallway, cursing in Russian and saying to himself, “I don’t get it!” I went out to purchase new parts for my breaker box this morning, which I’d done before and had worked in the past. This time around, though, that didn’t do the trick. I had to have an electrician – the same guy that’s been here three times in the past 14 months – come over to fix this mess.
Peaking around the corner I can see that the repairman’s not done, but there does happen to be a sizeable mess of wires, sheetrock and wallpaper strewn about the floor. No doubt he’ll leave that for me to clean up when he leaves. But I only mind now that this mess gets fixed. I need heat and light. I need to plug my MacBook in before it dies on me. And I need my coffee.