Careful Workmen

Every so often, a workman appears at my house and proceeds to fix things I didn’t know were broken. My wife is long accustomed to my hopelessness in all matters D.I.Y and no longer asks me to do any household repairs. Shortly after buying our house she had asked me to do something involving electricity and I managed to plunge the entire house into darkness. Then I had to confess to a manly neighbour that I didn’t even know what a ‘breaker’ was never mind where he might find it. These days, my wife silently notes that something needs to be done and gets a man in. Today it was a plumber because apparently it would be better if we had the option to decide if we had done a big toilet or a little one and flush appropriately.

Anyway, the plumber fitted the new flushing device and asked if there was anything else that needed doing. ‘Well,’ I said, ‘the socket there is a bit loose.’ I pointed to where our toilet seat plugs in, to the casing that was hanging off the wall to such an extent that I was terrified to touch it. ‘Oh, that could burn your house down,’ he said. ‘Do you want me to fix it?’

‘Yes, please,’ I said, and then after he was done, I led him through our house pointing to all the other loose sockets. He sucked air through his teeth as he pondered how it was that I was still alive. ‘They are all quite dangerous,’ he said. ‘That’s why I never touch them,’ I replied. ‘Can you make them safe.’

The nice man said that he could and proceeded to do things not really within a plumber’s remit. He did so without complaint and announced at the end that it was all ‘service’. He had charged us only for the ‘big shit’ / ‘just a pee’ flusher installation. I thanked him profusely and, after he had left, went to test the big flusher. As I sat there, I marvelled at how unfailingly polite and helpful the man had been, as indeed have all the workmen that have visited my house over the years. It’s always shoes off, sheets down, careful handling, and tidying up so that things are spotless when they leave.

As I came out of the toilet I heard a car arriving and looked out the front door to see the plumber’s van pulling quickly in to the driveway. I wondered what he had forgotten and really hoped he didn’t have to go back into the toilet. I’d have to stall him for a bit if that was the case.

Thankfully, he didn’t. Instead he was full of apologetic phrases as he asked to go back into one of the rooms where he’d fixed a socket high on the wall. You see, he’d moved a chair about a foot or so in order to do the work, and realised after he had left that he hadn’t returned it to it’s original position.

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7 Responses to Careful Workmen

  1. Clark Parker says:

    Wonderful post, and love the ending. A great portrait of Japan’s service culture.

    • Thanks. Yes, generally service is really good. Shop staff etc can feel a bit robotically polite, but the workmen always seem naturally polite and friendly and take care in their work.

  2. Wow!!! Wish we had this service in Britain…..

    • I think one thing Japan has which Britain generally doesn’t is the fact that people in all walks of life, from company execs to rubbish collectors take pride in their jobs. Not everyone, obviously, but it is far more common than at home.

  3. mreuroguy says:

    Wait, was that a good or bad Japan?

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