20 November 2010

Just Put Your Lips Together and ...

My Moscow apartment is located in a building that was built in 1918. The apartment was refurbished (ремонт - in Russian vernacular) in the early 1990s, shortly after the end of Soviet Union. The current apartment construction offers a snapshot of the goods that suddenly became available int he Russian market at that time, like halogen lamp fixtures and a hot tub.

Time Machine:  1980s Hot Tub

Just for the record, I hate hot tubs. They are one of those useless 1980 in-vogue items like parachute pants and Chia Pets.

I hate hot tubs but I am stuck with one.  So, when it is broken, I feel obliged to fix it.  Over the short past short while, my wife and I have replaced pipes, tubes, screws, and fixed leaks.  We had a specific leak that needed a specialist.  As we were going to have the honor of hosting a hot tub specialist in our apartment, it seemed appropriate to ask him to fix everything else that was wrong with this 1980s relic, like the pneumatic switch that turns on the water jets.

The pneumatic switch is a safety feature.  Because the hot tub is full of water, all electronics should be isolated; but, water jets and bubblers run on electricity and they should be controlled from inside the hot tub.  As such, the answer is to create an air pump (the pneumatic switch) that activates an electric switch somewhere else where it is safer.

Well, the distinguished hot tub specialists showed up (three of them, all of them smelly), and not a single one had the parts to replace the pneumatic switch.  To appease us, the cleverest of them all disconnected the air tube from the switch and said:
But this is not a problem.  To turn on the jets, just put your lips together here and blow.

The smelly and unattractive lad somehow managed to invoke the very sexy line from Lauren Bacall in the 1944 film, To Have and Have Not.  Admittedly, Lauren Bacall's performance was somehow more inviting.

Unfortunately for Russians, this type of behavior - namely shoddy workmanship, painful workarounds, incomplete products, bad services, and broken promises by vendors - is the norm (but things are progressing and getting better).  Russians are a very patient bunch.  I surmise that there is nothing out of the ordinary to them with putting their lips together and ... blowing.

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