. . . arrives right on time. He's shorter than I am and vaguely reminiscent of Richard Dreyfus in The Goodbye Girl.
I swear, he is talking even as I open the door, and I cut him off with my standard greeting to Russians speaking to me in Russian: "I speak Russian, not very good."
This only encourages him.
He continues, with a running dialogue, as he begins diagnosing the latest washing machine problem. It leaks, but I don't know what he has been told. I am trying to guess how to respond based on context and the odd word I do recognize here and there. When I'm off base, he roars and waves his arms, but in a amused Oh-How-Could-You-Miss-That? sort of way. When I'm right, he cheers and practically high-fives me.
I am hoping to slink off to another room and leave him to work in peace as I have done with Washer Repair Dudes I and II. But he's having none of that.
He identifies the sources of water and electricity. Removes the top of the washing machine. Tips it back and crawls underneath it, all the while rattling on in idiomatic Muscovite.
Cat-O sits on his tool box and inspects.
Then Crooky skitters by in her blue hospital gown.
This is a veritable show stopper for WRDIII. For a moment, he is actually speechless. Then he barks, "What the hell has happened to your cat?" his eyes bright with merriment.
Aw, geez. I hate these moments. How do I say "She's been spayed" in my limited Russian.
I wrack my brains for useful vocabulary and cognates. I can practically hear the Jeopardy theme playing in the background as he waits, breath baited, for my explanation.
Eureka! It comes to me.
Pointing at the cat and then miming a pregnant belly on myself, I say, "Dyeti . . . NYET!" Children . . . no!
He can barely contain himself. This is the funniest thing he has ever heard. I hear him repeating my answer to himself and chuckling. He practically gives me a pop on the arm with his fist.
But what about my washer?
He seems to be disappointed in it.
"Aw, gee, look at this," he tells me, or so I assume. I hear the words water and old as he points to the washer drum, which, now that the top is off the washer, is clearly a source of leaks.
He begins waving the work order under my nose and pointing to the phone number, which, I'm fairly sure, is Man Friday's. But Man Friday doesn't speak any more English than WRDIII, and I need to be a part of this conversation, if only for the sake of my own curiosity.
I call The Spouse, but, unanswered, the call rolls to his secretary. He is somewhere in the office, she tells me, but, regrettably, not at his desk. I wait a few minutes, but WRDIII, clearly a fidgety guy by nature anyhow, seems jonesing to wrap this up.
I call back and make the secretary talk to him for me.
Yes, it is as I suspected. WRDIII reports that this is an Antediluvian washer. Noah used it on the ark, it's that old. The part, if he can find it, will certainly run me 6000 rubles (about $200 today), money he believes would be better spent on a new washer. I can pay him 575 rubles ($18.55) for the diagnosis please, and he will be on his way.
575 rubles it is. He begins the process of preparing my receipt, saying each word aloud as he writes it. In preparation for what I assumed would be another pricey repair, I had run to the bank first thing in the morning and armed myself with cash. I have 5000- and 1000-ruble notes, but little else. Oh, but wait. I find a 500-ruble note and a few 10s. I steal 100 rubles from the kids' room and hand him 600 with no expectation of change.
He's not having any of that. "No, no, no! That is NOT how we do it!" he chastises me while he pulls out two 10-ruble notes and a 5-ruble coin. He snaps the coin down on the table with a flourish. Et voilà! We are square.
Now he beams at me. Shakes my hand. And departs while still producing his running dialogue.
The Spouse sends an email to the landlords bringing them up to date on the Saga of the Washing Machine. I have no idea if Man Friday has been keeping them apprised, but now we have clearly reached the "What do you want to do about this?" stage. We do, after all, pay for an apartment with a washer/dryer. And it is, for a switch, a renter's market these days in Moscow.
Within hours, The Spouse receives a call from Man Friday, asking for the dimensions of the existing washer. As the machine needs to fit in a very specific space, this is good news.
Fast forward to this morning.
I am making breakfast, when Crooky stumbles into the kitchen. She's still walking a bit sideways, but so would I, I suspect, if I had just had abdominal surgery in a Russian vet clinic. No laproscopic tubal ligation for her.
Then a horrible thought crosses my mind. A horrible, embarrassing, humiliating thought.
What if WRDIII thought that rather than trying to explain that the cat has been rendered unable to reproduce, that I was explaining to him that her funny outfit is the result of the fact that I have no children?
In spite of my best efforts, I have been unable to get The Spouse to call WRDIII's office to explain that I am not Crazy Childless Expat Cat Lady. Nor to stop laughing.
Seems he thinks my realization might very well be correct.
Waiting... - *In October on Manezh Square, outside of the Kremlin* It's the final countdown until the Olympics... Here's a link to an article that was in the "Russia ...
4 years ago