Yes, it’s actually about excitement. Not the excitement you get when you’re waiting for your cousin to jump off the roof to test the masonite wings I just constructed. As a 12-year-old wing designer, you have to stick with a test pilot. It would be annoying if you had to test your inventions yourself and an accident occurred, then the inventor’s career would probably end for a long time. Might add, he actually flew… for a second, straight into the ground, but managed with a sore ass and promptly resigned as a test pilot.
No, this concerns a completely different tension that occurred much later in life, far from the adventures of youth. It was about ten years ago in the Caribbean, or colloquially, the West Indies. Anyone who has read previous posts in my blog knows that I am in the Dominican Republic, you know, where I met Bienvinido for the first time in my life, who was our eminent guide when we made a day trip to the Cordillera Cenrtal mountains
In any case, I lived with a Dominican woman in a small but homely house that was built of cement stone and consisted of four rooms in a row, with yellow whitewashed walls and a cast concrete roof, which is unusual in cheaper apartment buildings, they usually only have corrugated well-rusted sheet metal which automatically waters any indoor flowers and other things when it rains. When you stepped in through the front door, you came straight into the dining area, the next room was the kitchen, which really just consisted of an empty room with a walled-up bench that contained a cement sink. Stove cupboard fridge etc. you had to drag yourself there. The interior of this kitchen consisted of a four-burner gas stove, a small camping table and a full-height refrigerator with a small cooling compartment.
When I moved in, the fridge wasn’t working like it should, it rarely got cold except sometimes when it would jerk for a few hours, so the first thing I did was ask my girlfriend to get a fridge technician over to fix it. He arrived fairly promptly with his tools and quickly notes that it needs to be topped up with freon. When it was done and he got paid, he drew as a reward without checking if it really got cold and it didn’t.
A new contact was made with the technician, he came and stated that some filter had to be changed, the filter was changed, he got paid and guess what happened or read the last sentence in the previous paragraph, the one about remuneration…..
The third time he was there he again checked the gas quantity, it was Ok so we were advised to throw out the cabinet which was beyond repair, after which he packed up his tools and left without compensation.
Okay. Now we come to this with excitement. I popped into the garage next door and borrowed a voltmeter, then measured the voltage the fridge was being supplied with and found it was far too low for it to work. There should be 110 Volts in the sockets but I only measured 70-80 Volts and that is not what a refrigerator is satisfied with. If you want its coolness, you have to feed it properly, otherwise it will sour properly.
So what to do now? Well, I had to try to find out how the crappy voltage gets from the source to the cabinet. The cables to the house’s plug cabinet disappeared into a hole in the ceiling, so I swung myself up to the ceiling with contempt of death and there I was met with a priceless sight.
It was a remarkable kaleidoscope of colorful spliced cable stubs that spread from house to house like a giant octopus camped over all the roofs. The cable stubs probably came from scrapped car electrical systems and were just twisted together without any insulation whatsoever. There were small cable stubs, coarse cable stubs, even the occasional steel wire glimpsed here and there.
I managed to follow the cables to a nearby pole where they were bolted to the 110 volt line from the power company. That thing with electricity meters and such fuss was not on the map. No wonder the fridge was miserable. Ok then the solution was within reach, I started by measuring the distance from my house to the feeder pole and calculated what I needed in cable way, bought it in the hardware store. It cost a small fortune but I thought it was worth it to get proper electricity in the house. I asked my girlfriend who knew the neighborhood to arrange for an electrician to disconnect us from the octopus and install the new cable.
Now damn the fridge works as it should and ice for a Cuba Libre is on the way. It was worth the money to get proper voltage to the house. Everything was peace bananas for a week. The following weekend we were away and when we returned on Sunday evening, there was no light in the house. The fridge was stone dead as well. It was late at night so we had to make do with candles for the rest of the evening. However, I could tell that our neighbors had electricity so it was apparently only us who had problems.
When I climbed onto the roof the next day, I could quickly ascertain that my expensive cable had lost its way and had gone off to an unknown location. Say the happiness that lasts. Now there was no more excitement, it ended as quickly as my test pilot crashed to the ground 50 years ago. Okay. my partner has good contacts with the neighborhood so she managed to get hold of the brother of the electrician who installed the cable. He explains to her that he has the cable and it will be retrieved for payment. He even offers to reinstall it for free. The amount was roughly the same as what I paid when I bought it.
How the hell do you figure out to first install a cable and then have a brother steal it. Well, the matter was very simple. The electrician had gotten into a drunken fight outside a bar and was currently in jail. The money for the cable would be enough to make him a free man again. The fact that he stole my cable was because the money I paid him for the work of installing the cable went to a real shitface with subsequent fights, so then, according to his clear logic, of course it was my fault that he ended up in the jail
I of course refused to buy the cable back. I was returning to Sweden a few weeks later so we managed without a fridge. As soon as I left, the cable came back free of charge because there was no longer any Europe with a thick wallet left. My partner was Dominican and they stay together. She then kept the cable until after a year she left the house and moved to Sweden. How it is today, I have no idea, but it would be fun to revisit the colorful octopus roof. Should that happen, I will come back and tell you how it went. Until then, have a great time.