05 July 2011


Yesterday I woke up in the morning, and everything was quiet. Too quiet. The server was down, the clocks were blank, and the ice cream in the refrigerator was quietly melting. The building had lost power sometime during the night, and so did the one next door. Fortunately I had hot water. I went to work and figured, there is a bank in each building (Marseille has more different banks than ice cream parlors) and they'll scream at Electricité de France until something happens.

Unfortunately I didn't remember that all banks are closed on Mondays. Bankers seem to love long weekends. So I came home and still had no power. My French lesson was held in darkness, with the light of two flickering candles.

But there was hope. In an uncharacteristic burst of efficiency, EdF had sent a van with two electricians to investigate. I told one of them about the problem, and soon watched him open a manhole in the sidewalk and disappear into it. During the next hours I kept looking out; the manhole was still open when I went to sleep. I half expected the Marseillaise do what they always do, drop bags of garbage down the hole, but no. My teacher had seen people drop bags with garbage on the sidewalk, right out the window, from the eighth floor! Only in Marseille...

All the time the other electrician was sitting in the van, doing nothing. Probably management. Or some very important function that only his union understands.

Sometime around midnight, four hours after the electrician got to work, the power came on again. The next morning I admired his handiwork: a thick tube was snaking out from our fusebox through a half-open window out to the street, vanishing in a hole under the roof. Very professional. But effective. I now have power again but I am afraid that they'll cut it again to fix their fix, and all my virtual machines will once again go to the big server in the sky.

I now have a solid block of molten and refrozen cassis ice cream, sadly all but inedible. Maybe I should put it on eBay.