Culture Magazine

The Plumber: "We're Not What We Were"

By Sedulia @Sedulia

"Where did you get our number?" said the plumber as he drank the coffee I offered.

Two competent-looking men in their fifties had come surprisingly quickly the first time I called. Our heater hasn't been working and the apartment is freezing cold. It turned out I was lucky they were in the neighborhood-- they're based out near Orly airport, only about 15 kilometers from Paris but often a long way because of the traffic.

"From the heating SAV*," I said. "The repairman came and fixed the heater but he said we still needed a plumber."

"It was a blond guy, a bit jowly, right?" the plumber asked.

"No, the first repairman was de souche africaine** and the second one was a beur," I said.

The plumber shook his head. "On n'est plus ce qu'on était***." Then, as if he knew he shouldn't have said that to a foreigner, he put down his cup and headed down the hall to join his partner, shaking his head.


SAV = service après vente, after-sales service
** of African origin
*** We are not what we were

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