Erno, the representative from the leasing office, had long been promising me a second oven rack, just about from the second day we moved in. The oven, a mini GE profile, comes with one rack and a chicken roasting spit and drip pan. Made in China, for use in China. Since the oven and its manual are labeled and written in Mandarin, roasting a chicken in my oven is beyond me; also, we tend to bake a lot of cookies for which a second rack comes in handy. Erno made the mistake of telling me he would be bringing the item over on Monday, even if he had to cannibalize another house; he then failed to produce the holy grail. No surprise there.
“Big mistake!” I can hear Julia Roberts saying that to the snotty sales ladies in the movie Pretty Woman, shaking her shopping bags. The phrase was ricocheting around my head on Thursday afternoon when I entered the house next door with Blank Stare, the developer’s agent. We entered to check to see if there was moisture on the ground floor of the as yet unrented house (a smidge). Seizing the opportunity, I checked in the oven to see if there was a rack. There was! So, I reached in and removed the little darling, explaining that Erno said I could have an extra one. “Call Erno if you must,” I said.
Blank Stare proceeded to dial Erno, a Bulgarian who speaks Chinese. Erno told me to wait, if I could, so that he could get me one himself.
“But Erno! You have have been saying this for the last 10 weeks. I can’t wait any longer! It is going to be much easier to find one for an unrented house than for me. Besides, you promised.”
Erno and Blank Stare conversed and the rack was relinquished into my custody. Blank Stare asked me to write a note saying I had the rack. I said I would write her a note when she put in writing how they were going to fix the humidity and noxious smell problems in my house and what Plan B would be if they could not, such as a reduction in rent or moving me to a new Glama Villa (there are none left until May and do I really want one? Can I stand to move again?).
“This is China.” An overused catch all phrase which is supposed to explain everything, like the phenomena of crumbling castles, fraudulent real estate developers, and water rats populating the idyllic brook meandering through the bizillion dollar compound. A verbal throwing of hands in the air, a semantic shrug of the shoulders. What can you do? Me, I purloined an oven rack with The Man’s permission. Now that is the American way. And I am not giving it back.