There's a tactic used by the salesmen (and, as it turns out, the missionaries) here. They buzz the outside the door of a building and try to get someone to let them in. Once they're in, they go door to door. It's like the jackpot of door-to-door selling (well, the jackpot of doors, not necessarily sales).
Nearly every day close to lunch time I'll hear the door buzz, I pick up the receiver, ask who it is and more often than not it's a muffled, jibbery voice that I don't recognize. My general rule of thumb is, if they don't ask for me using my name, I don't open the door.
After our apartment manager came yesterday morning and relite the pilot light, he still wasn't convinced everything was working right with the water heater (Me: "You mean it's not supposed to make those igniting-boom sounds every few seconds while the water is running? I thought that was normal here." Him: blank stare, long pause, followed by a curt, "No.") He said he would call a technician who would probably be here Monday.
Hours later the door buzzes. I answer.
They respond, "Jibber, jabber."
"No, grazie." I hang up.
It buzzes again. I pick up. "Si?"
"Como?" (I know, it's not Italian, but it's one step closer than the German I keep remembering here).
"No, no. Grazie."
"No." Hang up. ONLY REALIZE THAT I KNOW THAT WORD. CALADIA = BROILER (hot water heater). I had read that word the night before. Shoot.
I pick up the receiver. "Signore?" But they don't really work like that. Double shoot.
I panic. Should I call the apartment manager and tell him I just sent the repair man packing? I feel so dumb. He said Monday. It's Thursday, not even Friday. Should I run out to the street? Can't. Ada is sleeping . . . My brain continues humming along these lines until I hear another buzz, or rather three buzzes, followed by a knock on the door. (Ada is no longer sleeping). I try opening the door. It's locked (and you can only lock/unlock doors with a key, even from the inside). They hear me run away from the door.
"No, no! Signora! Aspettare!!"
"Un momento! Chiave!"
I open the door. Probably the sweetest looking old man is there with a very grouchy, grizzly looking younger guy with shoulder length ringlets and the biggest back pack on I've ever seen while not backpacking.
In broken Itailenglish he slowly says (and using exaggerated hand motions), "Signora. I landlord. I apartamento here. Come--"
"Si, si si!! Scusa! Prego, prego!" I basically just threw all sorry I'm an idiot terms I could think of at them.
They came in. The grizzly guy, as I realized when the door opened, was the repair man I had just dismissed a handful of times. When I heard the clang of his backpack hit the ground after he lifted it off his back I felt even worse than I did before. The thing must have weighed sixty pounds and been full of tools and parts and gadgets.
He fixed the hot water heater. And had he asked me, I would have kissed him.
And the landlord? I want to adopt him as my Italian grandfather. Even though he told me Ada was a "Bello bimbo."