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2007-07-29 - 9:57 a.m.

...DUCTS and other building maintenance stories - POST II today....

Last week, I made a reference to the movie Brazil in my entry about the renegade electricians at Mountain U. The nostalgic and enthusiastic response of Harri3tspy convinced me that K had to be introduced to this film, too. So we watched it last Thursday - the original UK version with the darker ending. K loved it, too. And now whenever I express any consternation about the continuing, slow-moving saga of my lab, he responds with, "But my dear, the movie was more than two hours long. Of course they're not done yet."

Last Thursday, the electricians came in and rooted through the ducts and discovered unfinished wires in the ceiling - the contractors had simply not finished the work and brought down the other two lines. On Friday, the building's project manager paid a visit to the lab to ask about what was needed. We had a long (somewhat heated) discussion about where the new wires should go, and about how I should have to pay for their being brought down, because I've rearranged the location of the furniture. I had a bit of a sense of humor failure about this one, as I really don't find it appropriate for me to pay for their errors. Whereas, his reasoning was that we were no longer 'following the plan' and therefore it was an additional expense. I won't even begin to reproduce the discussion that ensued, except to say that we ultimately concluded that the lines are coming down, and I'm not paying.

But I think that I've grown to have an even stronger appreciation for the movie Brazil, and I should send a thank you letter to Mr. Gilliam for giving me a point of lasting humor to cling to in these absurd times. Let me relay a second story about how building maintenance proceeds.

When our department moved into the new building, they needed to order bulletin boards for the shared spaces. So the secretary called to order them. The maintenance folk asked her, "what size?" And she asked, "What sizes do you have?" They wouldn't, or couldn't, tell her. She called on multiple occasions and spoke to different people. She tried phrasing the question in different ways, "Do you have a catalog of products that I could look at?" to no avail. Finally she went out and measured the old bulletin boards and sent these dimensions in with the work order. Two months later, she received a phone call, "You've requested custom sizes for these boards. It will cost you extra for us to resize them." No joke.

Incidentally, I am still waiting on the ten second job of pulling a switch and activating a second telephone line in my lab. But as K says, "we all know that the movie is more than two hours long.."

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