Friday, January 27, 2006

Okay, so that was a bit too impulsive, wishing for an Armenian culture minister neighbor. I take it back. Violence's no good.

An hour or so before electricity returned, we called ZhEK, and they said that Kyivenergo people were already in our building, trying to fix the cable that burned down. Mama went out to check whether this was so and found a really tired woman from ZhEK supervising three really tired electricians from Kyivenergo. The electricians worked in the dark, using some tired, dim flashlights; they looked so miserable that mama gave them her own flashlight and spent some time with them. "All night long we are working, all over the city," one of the guys complained to her. "And I didn't find it in me to start a fight with them, you know," mama told me when she came back.

Two days ago, after nine hours without electricity for the second day in a row, I called ZhEK for, like, the twentieth time, and had a moving conversation with a dispatcher. He was working a 24-hour shift (sutki), from 9 am to 9 am, and when I called around 9 pm, he was halfway through his nightmarish workday. Six buildings in the district he was responsible for were out of power, he told me; all relevant city services were aware of the problem, so there was no use complaining to them; Kyivenergo, the monopolist, was to blame for everything - they weren't answering their phones, they weren't sharing their plans and prognoses. He actually apologized to me several times - just think of it, someone from ZhEK was saying he was sorry! And I wished him to survive the night of angry phone calls, told him I knew it wasn't his personal fault that we were having such a prolonged blackout. And he must've been moved, too. "It hurts so much when people are cursing me on the phone," he suddenly confessed. "Especially when women call and begin cursing!"

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