Thursday, August 9, 2012

Buying services

Whenever I get complacent about living here in Belarus, something new pops up. Today I went to get my teeth cleaned, as I do every six months. The dentist peered around in my mouth, poked and prodded, and declared that everything is grand except for some tartar (it’s called “stone” in Russian) on my lower teeth. He decided in that light that he only needed to clean the bottom half of my mouth. Half an hour later, I got half the usual bill for half the usual job. It’s possible that he was trying to squeeze in another patient for the second half hour, since he chatted with his assistant about a patient whose crown had finally arrived.

The other service I tried to buy today was a repair to my winter coat. I have a very heavy shearling garment that started coming apart at one of the shoulder seams. Alla suggested that I should ask the seamstress if she could handle it before I bothered bringing it down. I’m glad I took this advice because the seamstress said that she doesn’t work on leather. She sent me home to call central services to ask where to get the work done. I started home and then turned back because I’d noticed a luggage repair shop in the same building. Their sign promised repairs on suitcases, handbags and umbrellas. Certainly they’ve got a sewing machine capable of stitching leather! The clerk was horrified by my request. NO. They do not work on clothing. Call central services.

I got Alla to call Central Services, who sent me to a shop with the right equipment and the right union card. My coat is now ready for winter.

Finally, I got a taste of hotel guest services at an economy hotel. A friend of a friend is staying nearby and I tried to return her call. The hotel operator asked me what room this guest occupied, but I didn’t know. Then she asked me the nationality of the guest. American. Oh yeah: she knew where the Americans were, and they weren’t in the hotel. We still get a little extra attention around here.

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