One Step Forward, 3 Steps Back

No flickering flames anytime soon - but we shall not give up!

Last week we decided to report a gas leak at the Cafe.  We knew the risk.  The risk would be that the Gas company, like every other utility or government agency in Ukraine would potentially cause problems.  You avoid dealing with all utilities here, and the government (which owns 90% of everything).  They are armed with a hundred ways to bring your progress to a screeching halt – such are the remnants of a failed socialistic system of control.  Anyway, we figured reporting it was worth the risk of getting shut off; rather that than an explosion, that wouldn’t make for a nice blog to write.

They determined we needed more documents, which are at current impossible to furnish, and instead of just fixing the leak, they shut it off totally and are refusing to turn it back on. 

It reminds me of my friend Igor down the street who just got married.  He paid his utilities in advance and still got shut off.  When inquiring they not only took 2 weeks to realize they had indeed a mistake, but refused to connect it again unless he paid the re-connect fee!   That gives you an idea of the ‘that’s so wrong’ situations we face often over here.  You have to throw out logic and reason and embrace the fact that folks are just zero’d in on the technicalities and how they can possibly win personally from them.

I wouldn’t mind so much if it were in the spring, summer or fall.  But the timing couldn’t be worse, the temps have dropped below freezing and we’re now having to keep electric heat in the place going 24/7 in order to avoid frozen pipes in our floors.

Tomorrow we head to the next town to talk to the bigger boss and ask for mercy.  I’m taking the opportunity to build some relationships, not get angry, and tell our story.  If they keep our gas off for a few months, it will be because we’ve been really nice and they’ve been unreasonable.  They all want pizza.  I told them we’re only serving cold pizza to gas employees.

Private business is so rare here, none of the folks we’re dealing with have ever started a business, or have the foggiest clue how much time and money this is taking.  In the meantime we’ll have to limit the Cafe use and hope for all of our documents to keep progressing.

We have a lot of snow out there, and the roads continue to be a dangerous place to be.  I’ve seen more fender benders, stuck vehicles and general mayhem on this roads this week than all of last year.  I think it’s partly because it hit us all so fast.  Nobody had time to plan, many folks were stuck in weather they would otherwise have avoided.

Check out Charlie our St. Bernard pulling Noah from downtown.

Bruce & De

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