Won’t Get Fooled Again

Often in an Roman block of flats, you’ll here the sound of the buzzer. Mostly this is mates calling up to be let into the building, or a postman, or maybe even a sparky or whoever alse is being employed by the condominio to do bits of maintenance work. Normally it’s not a problem letting people in, even if they’re just pressing any old number outside to gain access, and I’ve had stilted chats with many a gruff Roman plumber in my time. After all, this is the new and improved Liqiuidator, social and forthcoming in two languages.

Today I was scribbling away for a freelance contract I recently landed, when the buzzer went. I picked up the phone by the front door, and was asked whether I was one Signor Iommi, who happens to be our landlord. No, sez I, he doesn’t live here anymore, what’s this all about? Well, he explains, I’m the administrator of the condominio, and there are people in the building who owe us money for cleaning in the building, can I come in? I pressed the buzzer to let him in the main gate, and this shambling, bristly looking chap trundles up the stairs, walking in a ghoulish fashion, like his shoulders are carrying the rest of his body and his legs are their for show. Upon arrival the guy shows me a cleaning bill for €140 and asks me whether I can pay it now, as it’s been outstanding for a while. I explain in the best Italian I can manage that there’s no way I can pay that much money right now, and in any case it’s not my responsibilty to do so. Speak to Claudio, the landlord. No no no, he explains, I’ll come with you to the cash point. Obviously I’m not getting through to this very rude and presumptious man, so I called Spangles to give him what for more fluently, and to him our landlord’s phone number. In the meantime she’s called the landlord to have a go at him: if he’s coming round, why not fucking well tell us?

So the administrator sits at the kitchen table with the right grump, scowling at the hallway like a put out loan shark. I just want my money, he’s clearly thinking, what is it with these stupid foreigners? Eventually he gets through to the landlord, who explains to him that it’s his responsibilty to pay, so come and meet him at the restaurant later on tonight, and he’ll give him the cash on the spot. I’ll go with him to the cashpoint though, continues the man, and you can deduct it from his rent? I don’t mind waiting here while he goes down there. No, we’re not doing that come to the restaurant tonight. The guy hangs up the phone and tells me it’s all sorted, thanks for being patient, before dragging himself out of the flat. Now the pair of us were really pissed about this; it put me in an awkward situation, as well as amking me deal with his business. But he rung up about ten minutes later and apologised profously for it, so I figured it was just an honest mistake on his part.

Earlier this evening Claudio is in his usual spot, the Napolitano restaurant where his firm delivers cuts of meat to, having a coffee and a bite to eat while he waits for the administrator. Only he never shows. Now being half an hour or so late in Italy is practically being on time, usually, but this guy was desperate for the money right now, so where is he? He calls the administrator to ask where he is, after all he’s not usually so insistant for the cash. ‘What do you mean, “Where am I?”‘ he asks. ‘Well, you wanted money for the cleaning work a few hours ago, what’s going on?’

Halfway through Claudio’s phonecall to Spangles not half an hour ago the our collective penny dropped. The guy was con artist, he explained. The actual administrator had never done any cleaning work, and in any case Claudio always paid promptly and by direct debit. This fella (apart from doing a mean administrator impression) was going around flats with foreign names attached to the buzzer button outside in the hope that they’d not have any idea what was going on. Not only that, he was doing in the same building, over and over again, and others on this street. I for one really, really hope he comes back in here again.


5 Responses

  1. blimey!

  2. Stronzo! Bet it works more often than not though….

  3. First blog I read after wakeup from sleep today!

    Are you tension? panic?

  4. То что бредомысли это точно 🙂
    Видно настиг творческий кризис. Мысле нет о чем писать 🙂

  5. Great blog

    Chelsea fan eh? Click on me…

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