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Repair Work in China.

Popularity 1Viewed 2347 times 2015-7-20 07:53 |System category:Life| airconditioning, safety, maintenance, crazy, dangerous

It’s true that people read many stories about strange things that happen in China. However, a quick perusal of the newspapers and the internet will soon show you that the world is full of quirky incidents, nutty people, crazed maniacs, idiots and conversely the clever, intelligent, entrepreneurial and famous. China doesn’t have the monopoly on any of these but living here does provide an endless source of amusing incidents. For instance:-


About 3 weeks ago the weather started warming up seriously and 24°C inside a multi storey apartment block constructed mainly with a cold climate in mind doesn’t allow for any natural through breeze. My apartment has air conditioning cleverly placed so as the staircase to the loft bedroom is the coolest place to be. Great if you’re a Harry Potter type that lives beneath a staircase but next to useless if you have other things to do like….live normally! I switched the system on after madly pushing every button on the remote to see what each does as they are all in Chinese characters. Very quiet, all the directional vanes worked perfectly but……yep….no cold air. Knowing a little bit about aircons I knew it needed gassing. So I informed the school and asked could it be fixed before it really warms up. (It’s been consistently in the 30’s lately!)


2 days later the school maintenance man rocks up with the air conditioning guy and he is carrying a gas bottle. I am overjoyed that they have guessed the problem as well because usually any maintenance that requires doing in China (and I now speak for ALL of China) entails 2 to 3 visits because they can never foresee problems nor do they plan for any contingency. Within 3 minutes they strike the first problem.


Let me explain. The aircon is a split system and the compressor is outside the window, way out of arm’s reach, and we are 5 storeys up plus the loft area making it equivalent to about 8 storeys in height. I have always wondered how they perform any maintenance on these units and I was about to find out. This first problem was due to the windows being barred and they required a key to unlock the catch holding the bars in place. Did I have one? Yeah, sure….NO! So, first visit over. They are back within 10 minutes with another guy who is a locksmith I presume because he uses something to break the lock and the bars are then removed. Progress! Great!


Andy, the school maintenance man, asks me if I have any string. This is all done in kind of sign language so I eventually work out what he wants and I know I have a spare shoe lace and find that and give it to him. He laughs and indicates that what he needs is much thicker and I do a “Eureka!” … he needs a rope. What for? Uh oh! The rope is to tie around the maintenance worker’s waist so that he can lean out the window, precariously I presume, to attach the gas line to the air conditioner while we, inside, hang onto the line to ensure the worker doesn’t fall to his death! What a fine example of Chinese safety standards. No rope, so away they go and my estimate of 2 – 3 visits for a simple job is ratified. They return again within 10 minutes but without a rope. So guys, what are we going to use? Ah yes, I see it, a bicycle tube cut through to make a longer length. Fantastic! I suggest the shoe lace again – just as effective don’t you think? At this point I am keen to leave the apartment because I know, that according to Chinese law, if the guy falls out of the window of MY apartment I will be liable for damages and a death will set me back about 300,000 RMB plus pavement cleaning costs below and I bet my air conditioning will never be fixed after such an incident.


I watched in fascination as the guy tied the tube around his waist (single knot) and then leaned out of the window with a spanner and gas bottle line to attach to the unit outside. I thought Andy would be standing back from the window in a brace position, like anchorman in a tug of war, gripping the tube tightly but no, he was standing next to the repair guy leaning out the window next to him chatting away while limply holding the end of the bicycle tube! Needless to say, considering I am sitting here writing this all up and not in a Chinese “reform” centre awaiting trial, that the aircon was eventually re-gassed, the system tested, the bicycle tube stowed into the workman’s bag for future use as a handy tool no doubt and cool air was chilling the staircase. The electric fan I had was placed under the stairs and blows the cold air into the apartment. The bars on the window were not replaced so I now refrain from leaning against the flywire to watch the world pass by below. Andy said he would give the window bars to his daughter to play with so we got a bit of recycling done as well. I love this city!

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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