There are some days, and I’m sure we’ve all had them, when all you want to do is run away and hide somewhere for about 30 million years. The sort of days when things just don’t go wrong but all seem to conspire against each other to go wrong at the same time. It’s a sort of snowball effect, as if the first problem has let all the other potential problems know that now is the time to strike. Well, that day was today.
And it couldn’t have started any earlier. I had set my alarm to wake me at 7am so I could wake Mirinda. She had a very important meeting to get to in North London and Bob was going to the flat first thing so it was pretty important. For reasons known only to the great Hypnos, I managed to turn off the alarm without waking and continued to sleep until 9:30.
I woke with a good long stretch before looking at the time, thinking I’d woken up an hour before I had to when I realised what had happened. I frantically scrabbled for my phone and rang the flat. No answer. This was the result for the next dozen times I tried as well. I texted Mirinda but didn’t get a reply. I had to assume she was, in fact, not talking to me (or writing) because of my lapse rather than head buried in a pillow somewhere.
I should have realised that this was an evil portent for the day to come. Not that I know what I could have done had I been forewarned. Drink, maybe. There’s always the half empty bottle of sherry sitting in the kitchen…and some pommeau in the fridge. But that’s all strictly academic because I don’t have the power to glimpse the future, no matter how rabid it might be.
For reasons that will become crystal clear, I’m going to call today the Day of the Great Fridge Disaster. When Mirinda returned to the flat on Sunday she discovered that the fridge was dead. The light still worked but the cold bit, the reason you have a fridge, wasn’t. Apparently the smell was quite rank. She called someone and they said they’d send someone the next day to have a look at it.
Long story short…a fridgie with barely a word of English, turned up and pronounced it dead from condenser failure. It would cost about £200 to fix. In his opinion we needed a new fridge. I was tasked with buying the new fridge. Which I did after a prolonged bout of Mirinda measuring the space it had to fit into (it’s in a cupboard with two doors). It was to be delivered today.
A brief pause while I state at this point that the website I ordered the fridge from had “installation provided” slapped all over the particular product I was ordering, complete with a graphic of crossed screwdrivers. I figured I’d have to select the install option when I reached the actual order section of the website. When I did, the items were the fridge, an option to have the old one taken away, one of those stupid money making extended warranty things and a bottle of expensive cleaning fluid. There was nothing about installation. The next screen was for payment. I figured the installation was part of the deal since nothing had indicated anything other than that. Oh, how wrong I was.
I had a sudden call from Bob (who was at the flat to take delivery of said fridge) to say the delivery guys were there but they weren’t going to install it because it wasn’t part of the deal. I spoke to one of them and he said they didn’t “…even have a screwdriver or nofink.”
Great, I thought, now what do I do? We had a bloody great fridge sitting in the middle of the kitchen and an empty cupboard for it to go into with no-one to put the two together. I rang the company I’d bought it from to see what the problem was. It was soon clear that the problem was, in fact, the company I bought it from.
The person I spoke to on the phone was obviously well trained in circular talking. Rather than address the actual problem, he thought it better to repeat the same thing in an attempt to blind me with giddiness. I told him to stop talking in circles a number of times while trying to hold my temper. I wasn’t successful. Here’s a taste of our conversation:
ME: The product said installation was provided so I assumed this meant you’d install it.
HIM: Not all products have an installation option.
ME: I’m aware of that but this one did. In fact, I’m looking at your website right now and I can see it clear as day.
HIM: Then you should have taken the option at checkout to include installation.
ME: There was no option to include installation, as I’ve been telling you, otherwise I’d have selected it. This led me to believe it included installation.
HIM: Not all products include an installation option.
ME: But this one does include installation.
HIM: Then you should have selected the installation option.
ME: Seriously? Do you hear yourself? This conversation is getting nowhere very quickly. If I’m correct, what you’re saying is that you don’t install a fridge unless it has an installation option at checkout even if it says on the product description page that you do.
HIM: The installation option would have appeared in the checkout list if the product had an installation option.
ME: So, I’m stuck with a useless fridge in the middle of a useless conversation. Can I order an installation now then?
HIM: I’m afraid the installation option can only be chosen when ordering the product and not the next day.
ME: So to get an installation, I’d have to order another fridge?
HIM: Only if it had the installation option.
And so it went. Needless to say, I hung up and then rang around trying to find someone who could install the fridge ASAP. And wouldn’t you know it, everyone in London is really, really busy installing integrated fridges at the moment. So much so that the next available slot was Monday (most were three weeks away). Not knowing the various schedules of Mirinda and Bob, I decided to play safe and opted for Tuesday. I dusted my hands, thinking all was well.
While dealing with this atrocity, I was busy emailing Dave the Builder regarding various house matters. Things like a deposit for the gas fire, when, where and what was happening generally and the problem with the Optiplan delivery and installation times. Dave is away from Friday (off to France with the family) and won’t be back till next Wednesday so he wanted to make sure I could be there when the kitchen put in its first appearance. I managed to work out that I’d be there Friday after 11, Monday morning and the rest of the week, if he needed. This was all fine. Anyway, said Dave, he was waiting for Optiplan to get back to him ith dfinite times and dates.
I breathed a slight sigh of relief and took Day-z for a walk. It was while we were on this pleasant walk (as pleasant as it can be on the reserve) when I had a text from Mirinda. She was due at the hairdresser in Canary Wharf at 3:45 but would be 15 minutes late and could I call them and let them know. My first thought was why she didn’t do it but, as it turns out, her phone was almost flat.
I rang the hairdresser and explained that she’d be a mere 15 minutes late and I was just letting them know. The girl spoke to, very pleasantly, informed me that she’d have to cancel then because the stylist had another person booked in straight afterwards and the colour took half an hour. Rather than enquire how hair colour had anything to do with it, I told her I’d call back. I texted Mirinda, knowing she’d not be best pleased (and she’d not found out about the fridge fiasco yet).
Following an expletive, she said to cancel it because she’d never get there in time. She also said she’d need a new hairdresser to which I agreed and suggested another, the details of which I would supply her with when I reached the house. I then called the hairdresser again and cancelled the appointment.
And can I just say at this point, that one thing sadly lacking in the Claypit Nature Reserve is benches. All of this texting and phoning is a pain while standing around. So much better if you can have a seat.
On the way back, my phone rang. It was Optiplan, the kitchen people who sound like an optician, letting me know when the kitchen and the fitter would arrive. This also included their names. I didn’t have the heart to tell the very nice woman on the other end that I couldn’t write anything down as I was walking the dog at the time. Mind you, the call was long enough that I was in the house and with pen and paper before we finished so I could take down all the details I needed.
So, the kitchen will be delivered Friday and the fitter would start fitting it on Monday. Marvellous, I thought. Something good, I thought. Stupid optimism. It just sits there waiting for the right moment to send your dendrites into a happiness frenzy knowing that just around the corner there’s a huge truck of disappointment about to crash into you.
After ringing up the local Optiplan and making the final payment, I sent an email to Dave, letting him know what I knew and forgot about it.
There was then a rather large flurry of texts from Mirinda wanting me to let Bob know that she was early and could he meet the ferry. Now, again, you’re wondering why she didn’t just text him directly. Well, something we discovered in France is that texts between their phones take a couple of days to arrive so anything even remotely urgent is pointless. For this reason I have become the relay station for all inter-family communications.
Well, I rang him, I texted him, I sent a very fast pigeon to tap on the sliding doors but all to no avail. No response. Nothing. I rang the flat phone quite a few times in case he was having a little snooze but it didn’t work. Eventually, and following a final desperate text from Mirinda, I rang his mobile. He quite happily informed me that he was walking home with her and did I want to talk to her. I said no.
And I thought all was well. You’d think I’d have learned by now, wouldn’t you.
Mirinda took one look at the fridge and called me to say it wouldn’t fit. The doors were the wrong size. I’d have to arrange for it to go back and buy another one from a better company that actually did install rather than draw pretty pictures of crossed screwdrivers on their website.
So, back to the phone I went to organise a retrieval. Of course I tried their returns page first and, of course it didn’t work. Three times I tried it and three times it failed. Bloody useless. So I rang.
I’ll not bore you with the actual conversation this time but the upshot was that I could have it returned and be repaid the cost (with the cost of the delivery as a penalty) as long as I sent them an email with photographs of the fridge attached. This was so they could see it wasn’t damaged or anything. I immediately called Mirinda and she took a couple of shots which I forwarded to the company. By this time it was a bit late and I think they’d all gone home so the conclusion to that will have to wait until tomorrow.
In the meanwhilst, I had an email from Dave the Builder saying that Mark the Tiler was going to grout on Saturday which would be difficult with the kitchen bits stored all over the floor. I was about ready to pull my hair out. I suggested putting the delivery back to Monday but he said he’d tried that and the company wanted the fitter to get stuck straight in on Monday morning. I offered to try calling them in the morning but hold out little hope.
The new plan is for Mark the Tiler to grout the kitchen bit tomorrow then do the rest after the kitchen is in. Very annoying because he’ll have to vacuum up any bits that have fallen between the tiles before grouting but we can’t see any way around it.
And so that was my day. I feel I should apologise for this mammoth post but, really, it has helped an awful lot to vent so you can forget it.
By the way…Mirinda woke up early and managed to get to her meeting without any problem at all.