According to the company that rented out the apartments we and the other people who were going to live in the building, were about to enter the Valhalla. Heating and warm water were going to be supplied by the new invented Combi system. This would reduce costs and would be a lot better for the environment. Showering with water that was used to heat the house really seemed to be a good idea.
Unfortunately the system quit on us already after three days. So we had to phone the 24 hours service. It was a Sunday so we did understand that help would arrive the next day. A mechanic would come by between eight and twelve thirty. Bad luck, it would cost me half a day leave from the office.
At eight the next morning I was ready after a quick splash with cold water. The morning was spent with reading the newspaper and a book, the man showed up at a quarter past twelve. If I had known I could have handled this thing in my lunch break!
The mechanic was carrying little more than an attaché case and was ready within five minutes.
He asked me to come to him: he was going to show me something. He started to open the tap and said: “You always have to open the red tap com-ple-te-ly!”. He asked me to feel the water: it was hot indeed. He closed the tap. “Now it’s your turn!”, he announced. I started to open the tap and he added: “Now open the tap com-ple-te-ly!”. He nodded approvingly when I did and packed his things while I noticed that the water was hot. He left the house saying: ”Don’t forget it!”
That evening I instructed my wife in the same manner; she almost started hitting me.
A few days later: no hot water. And again we didn’t get the help the same day. This time I was wiser and demanded an appointment that was a bit more precise. Between three and five.
So I left the office early and sat waiting from three on. At three thirty another mechanic arrived.
He had a tool-box and started hammering and banging in the combi heater.
He paused for a moment to ask me accusingly if I had been messing about with the thing. In disbelief he went on. It took him almost an hour and when he left there were several screws, bolts and even a little stone on the floor before the cupboard with the combi.
We had high hopes, but again things went wrong. The third mechanic came while we were being home together. He brought a huge tool-box along and an even bigger ghetto-blaster. Without music he couldn’t work, he said. He was a lover of reggae and obviously thought we liked this too. Sometimes he joined in with the singer. Once he came to us bewildered: “What kind of idiot has screwed up this system?”. We could only point at his colleagues. He could hardly believe it and he announced he was going to check who had been doing this job. We were more interested in a working system.
After working almost half a day at the thing, he was satisfied. He made us try it and yes, the thing was working again.
When it broke down again after some days, I was through with it. I collected all the tools in the house and opened the white metal cover. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me, but I noticed one thing that made me think. In the lower part was a switch. It had two positions: 0 and 1. At this moment it was on 0.
I switched it on 1 and asked my wife to open the hot water tap com-ple-te-ly.
The result: hot water!
I closed the metal cover and looked at my wife in a triumphant way. She admired my technical skills. I hoped the thing would at least work a few days to keep this respect.