Thursday, February 28, 2013

Free electricity

Something was weird about our electricity when we returned to Minsk last month. We’d be sitting around minding our own business and suddenly the lights would get much brighter or much dimmer. It happened so frequently that we began joking that the lights would react if any neighbor plugged in an electric shaver. We also began to worry. Something must be heavily overloaded if our lights reacted to every action in other apartments.

Finally we called the building services department and a knowledgeable and experienced guy came over within a few hours. When Alla answered the door, he asked her if she were the landlady. Alla answered affirmatively, noticed the concern on the guy’s face, and added that we’re renting. The guy brightened up over her care with the facts and set about investigating our problem.

It turns out that some of our building’s circuits had gotten reconnected to the old wiring. The new wiring leads to individual electric meters, but I have my doubts about the old wiring. I’ll bet it was originally communal, since it was installed by genuine Communists. It might explain our mysteriously-low electric bill from the last few months. We thought our Belarusian refrigerator must be amazingly efficient, but maybe we are about to learn differently.

Before the repair guy disconnected the main building circuit, he had to call the Militsia (police) because otherwise they’d be freaking out about everybody’s burglar alarms. The Militsia sent over a couple of officers who guarded the front door very attentively during the outage. I know this because I came downstairs to wait for a guest whom I wouldn’t be able to buzz in and they watched me closely until they understood why I was standing there.

Soon after the power came back, our landlady’s mother-in-law called. She’d gotten a call from the service guy, telling her about his work in our apartment. What with the Militsia and the conscientious service guy, I’m feeling really safe here.

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