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Maintenance stories from overseas

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  • Maintenance stories from overseas

    Since I live in an apartment now that is managed by a building support team, we have to put in a work ticket for any repairs. Having been a home owner for the past 16 years, it hurts my pride to have someone else do it, but on the flip side, not my place, not my problem.

    There are thousands of other people in the same boat as us all over the world and we have our own Facebook group where we share our experiences. Even activities like hanging pictures warrants a ticket--especially if the house is cinderblock, or in our case, a high rise with who knows what kind of things hiding behind the walls.

    Someone living overseas posted this story about a recent experience his wife had when she wanted some pictures hung. It made me laugh out loud! It's a shame no video was taken.

    "My wife asked Facilities to hang pictures at our house. The man brought an impact drill for concrete walls, but no extension cord. Rather than ask, or go back and get one, the carpenter proceeded as follows:

    1. Plugged the drill into the nearest outlet - which was five feet from the wall to be drilled.
    2. Turned it on until full speed was reached - and then pointed it at the target spot five feet away..
    3. Ran as fast as possible - ripping the plug from the wall in the process - to get about one second of drill time before the drill stopped spinning.
    4. Repeated as needed.

    He only missed his first hole a few times!

    After a few minutes - my wife did suggest he use our own extension cord.. which did make things a bit easier, although not as interesting to watch."

    --Paul

  • #2
    That must go in the annals of innovative ideas...!

    I would be worried about any work that chap did around the house - you never know what shortcuts he takes!
    It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
    - Aristotle

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    • #3
      Don't they have 3M picture mounting strips? I have my shop pictures mounted with these on concrete block walls.

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      • #4
        I like doing my own repairs myself but when overseas, we could request a handyman to do these type jobs at our organization's expense. Many missionaries are very adapt at doing these type of jobs, but enough are not - to the point that our organization felt it cheaper to hire an expert than let the "thinks he can" missionary do it.

        However, in some countries, especially Japan where the idea is "East is East and West is West" and never the twain shall meet - there is the mindset as you mentioned. I could write numerous stories of Japanese construction guys and handymen who tried to "Think like an American" and fix it that way!

        When our house was being built on the east side of Osaka, we went almost every day and watched. They put in a bay window in the kitchen-breakfast room area as called for on the plans. Then they started putting in a floor unit AC/Heater in Front of the bay window. When I saw it there and the markings on the wall below the bay window, I got quite animated (so LOML says). I talked with the contractor and told him in no uncertain terms that If I came back in the morning and the AC/Heater were in front of the bay window, I was going to cut the lines with a hack saw. He nodded and asked where I think it should go. I told him "Between the bay window and the corner as the plans said. he said "Hai." next morning, sure enough it was in front of the bay window and the outside unit was outside window in front of the bay window there. I was fuming. I know that he told the workers to watch out for the crazy american and call him if I did anything drastic.

        Well, I was mad as could be as the workers knew it. I told them "Call the Contractor, I am going to get my hacksaw". I left to go to the car and get my hacksaw. As I was going back into the house, the contractor came up and was frantic. We argued - well, I argued, he was trying to think. He said, "we will fix it, we will fix it." I put the hacksaw to the AC lines and said, "AND you will add new wall board where these holes are inside and out, or I will cut this now. He said "We can patch it". I said "NO Patch". This is a new home and I expect the wall be NEW. He was panicky by now. He said OK, We will replace this portion of the wall. Then he asked where can we put the AC/Heater. I told him. He pointed to the wall and said 'There is a 10 cm square beam in the wall" WE can't move it there." I told him, "NOT Where the 10cm square beam is." about 20 CM further to the left. He came back with 10 cm square support beam; I came back with 20cm to the left. This took place 3 times. Then I took a pencil and drew a circle for the place to put the "through the wall" tubing. Then he said, OH, Ok I can do that.

        Instead of a frosted glass bathroom door downstairs next to the entrance, they placed a clear glass door for full view of the sink, commode and shower! LOML forced them to up up a frosted door, which was the best we could get.


        A friend who moved to the back country of Japan near Nagano carried their American Gas stove. When the guys installed it, the entrance to the gas line of the stove was about waist high in the back. The gas line for the house came in about 2 inches off the floor. The Japanese installers, put the stove on some bricks, ran the gas line (old steel pipe) under the stove to the front; added an elbow fitting and ran the pipe up to the top of the stove; added another elbow fitting and added another straight pipe to the back of the top of the stove and then an elbow and pipe down to the stove gas fitting. Basically they encased the stove in a large square of gas pipe. The oven would open bout 4 inches.



        When I moved to Toyota City, I went to the local post office and mailed a manilla envelop of paper work via "overnight" to our office in Tokyo. Next day, it was back in my mail box. I was fairly irritated! I went to the post office and they were expecting me. I asked the guy at the window why that overnight paid for mail was in MY mail box. He had his book out and pointed to an open page and said "It Must be addressed correctly" and showed me the correct way to mail mail in Japan. I said: "Let me see that". He did. Then I said: "This IS the way I addressed it - which IS correct.." He said:" Yes but you are a foreigner." I replied" What has that got to do with it since I did it correctly?" He said" You are a foreigner and we were not sure you knew how to do it correctly." I said: "but I did do it correctly!" To which he replied "But we didn't know if you KNEW the correct way, or GUESSED the correct way, so we sent it back to you." Sensing a losing argument, I said, "Hai, SO what do you suggest for me to do so that you will not get confused at a foreigner mailing a letter?" He sucked air, thought a minute and then said with a smile: "Why don't you put the From on this side and the TO on the other side?" To which I replied: "If I do that, how will you know which one it is TO and which one it is FROM? he sucked air some more and went into deep thought! So I asked: What IF I add from (から) for my address and TO (出) for the destination address? To which he asked "You can do kanji?" That would be great! It would work!" Me: I wrote the kanji on the addresses on this letter, so I can write "kara" and "de" kanji. He took the letter and it did get there the NEXT day.


        Then there was the time that we were called into the City Police office for technically incorrect Driver's license. LOML and I both were required to come in for technically incorrect names on the DL. The DL had been done originally in Tokyo with initials while our passports were full names, no initials. Osaka took our Tokyo DL and made renewed licenses like the previous ones. Then Toyota City. NOT GOOD. We said, well correct it and we will pay for new and correct license. They were happy. I would cost us about $80 for the both of us to get new and correct DL. Then we heard some more sucking from the officials. Turns out that the space for the name is for about 6 or 7 Japanese Kanji, not for 15 to 20 Roman Alphabet Letters common in most Euro-American names. So Not enough space to put our full names! The officials came to us and asked us if we would so kindly use the old DL instead of getting a new one! We did!

        Because our last name is Lee, we got invited to numerous events for Chinese and Koreans, thinking that to be our heritage. (Lee is not a Japanese name.)
        Last edited by leehljp; 03-08-2018, 12:06 AM.
        Hank Lee

        Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by leehljp View Post
          When our house was being built on the east side of Osaka, we went almost every day and watched. They put in a bay window in the kitchen-breakfast room area as called for on the plans. Then they started putting in a floor unit AC/Heater in Front of the bay window.
          Was there any practical reason why the GC decided to put the heater in front of the bay window instead of where it was specified on the plan? Was he worried about that beam being in the way?



          Originally posted by leehljp View Post
          A friend who moved to the back country of Japan near Nagano carried their American Gas stove. When the guys installed it, the entrance to the gas line of the stove was about waist high in the back. The gas line for the house came in about 2 inches off the floor. The Japanese installers, put the stove on some bricks, ran the gas line (old steel pipe) under the stove to the front; added an elbow fitting and ran the pipe up to the top of the stove; added another elbow fitting and added another straight pipe to the back of the top of the stove and then an elbow and pipe down to the stove gas fitting. Basically they encased the stove in a large square of gas pipe. The oven would open bout 4 inches.
          This reminds me of another story someone shared in the FB thread. The person in question only had squatty potties in their residence so he ordered a sit down toilet and then put in a ticket to maintenance to have it installed when it was delivered. When he got home, he discovered that they removed the old unit, dug down deeper, and buried the toilet into the ground so the rim was slightly above floor level.

          Before we came here, we had to take some mandatory safety classes including fire safety. This agency's fire marshal travels the world visiting different residences and offices doing inspections and providing training. Apparently electrical fires are the number one cause of fires for all the residences. Sometimes it's user error (overloading a circuit, 110 appliance in 220, or overheated transformers) or sometimes the wiring in the house just isn't up to snuff. One picture that got quite the chuckle from the crowd was of a heating device that local guards had devised to keep their guard booth warm. The marshal said they were quite proud of what they had come up with. It was a large clay brick that had been wrapped in bare wire (think thick toaster wire) and had an electrical plug on one end. They would plug it in to heat up the shack and they could use it to keep their coffee warm, too. He nicely confiscated it and then replaced it with a real space heater.

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          • KenBurris
            KenBurris commented
            Editing a comment
            Just noticed your new location - love it ! Was it hard to install a bunker in a high rise ?

        • #6
          Originally posted by atgcpaul View Post
          Was there any practical reason why the GC decided to put the heater in front of the bay window instead of where it was specified on the plan? Was he worried about that beam being in the way?
          One Japanese friend told me that he probably thought that we would enjoy sitting by the window looking out and getting warm. Japanese do have low eating tables that have a heater under it and there is a blanket like cloth hanging all the way around it down to the floor. You sit on the floor, pull up to the table with your legs under the table and the heater warms you. We think the GC was thinking in this manner, and improvised.
          Hank Lee

          Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!

          Comment

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