Friday, August 15, 2008

Varsel Om Feiing

Settle in class, I'm about to add to your budding Norwegian vocabulary.

We covered 'luftambulanse' yesterday. That should be about all you need to know about the health sector.

Let us move on to the fire department. 'Feiing' (pronounced with a long 'i', as in 'dying') is a worthy service the fire department provides to every Norwegian household, (I believe) every two years.

Chimney sweeping, right? It's great. They send you a form letter saying we'll be here on this day, between these hours, please be ready for us. You, in turn, are obliged to set up a ladder for them (no less than one meter over the eaves), secure it with ropes, make sure all your dampers and doors and what not are closed (obviously), and provide free and easy access to the indoor flue hatch (which for us means moving the washer into the guest room). Do this all ahead of time; do it right. 'Cuz safety first blah blah, and also, frankly, we can't be bothered to do any of it ourselves.

In theory, none of this should be that much of a problem. Mister can easily provide for all of it before he goes to work. I just have to be around to let them in, and sign whatever forms they shove in front of my face when they're done. In practice, however, we always manage to forget the day they're scheduled to arrive.

Today was just such a day.

I was still lazing in bed at (blush) 9 a.m. when the doorbell rang. Boy thundered downstairs to answer it while I hastily threw on some clothes. I remembered the second I saw her standing there, of course. Shit! Feiing! Where's the bloody ladder!

It should be said that today's 'feier' was a pretty young thing--at least 10 years younger than me, and a good 15-20 pounds lighter (the filthy bitch). She didn't seem even a little bit amused when I smiled sheepishly, and said, "I'm so sorry, we totally forgot. Give me a sec. I need to call my husband."

I knew perfectly well that there was nothing he could do for me over the phone, but I was nervous about that ladder. It's a massive big thing, and has latches and pullies, and God only knows what incantations have to be said in order to keep the thing upright. So I called and whined until he finally said, "For God's sake, Jamie. Just go do it."

So I shuffled out bowing and apologizing all over again, then climbed into the bush to retrieve the ladder. After a few minutes of huffing and puffing to loose it from all the crap that had fallen and/or grown over it since the last time it had been used, Mademoiselle Feier finally took pity on me and said, "Would you like some help?" As I hefted it off the ground and handed it down to her, she grunted "I can't put this up alone."

"No, " I said, "Neither can I."

It took me a few minutes to figure out the latch and pully thingy to lengthen it. Mademoiselle Feier didn't have much of a clue either. Once it was long enough, we had to scrutinize it a minute or two to figure out which end was supposed to be up. Yes, both of us together really were just. that. stupid.

And then we tried to lift it into position. Awkward. Much. She was muttering instructions to me in Norwegian that I didn't quite understand. It didn't help that my mind was preoccupied trying to translate instructions from English into Norwegian that I wanted to mutter to her. In the end, it wasn't exactly a college try we put into the effort...more of a community college moment...and an aborted one at that. After less than a minute of awkward fumbling, she dropped her end to the ground and said, "Ya' know, you can reschedule....." Yeah, let's do that.

There are two things that really bother me about this whole incident:

  1. This chick works for the fire department but didn't know how to work a ladder. Sure, neither did I. But, I don't work for the FIRE DEPARTMENT!
  2. This chick works for the fire department but wasn't strong enough to lift a ladder. Sure, neither was I. But, again, I don't work for the frigging FIRE DEPARTMENT!


Caroline said...

Bwahahaha - Loved that story. On a more empathetical note - better luck next time.

Queen LaTeacha said...

Okay, here's my question: What duty was this big strong girl supposed to perform assuming everything had been in place? Chimney sweeping, right? Doesn't that take a bit of muscle? Makes you wonder if she just gets up there and enjoys the scenery for a few minutes, climbs down so you can sign a paper saying she was there, says "ha det!", and goes on her merry way. Hmmmmmm.....

jillybaby said...

Nothing really to do with your story but I CHANGED A TIRE TODAY! Yes, myself, unaided.

I was please with myself and wanted to let you know. Next time you need your chimney done, just give me a shout!