I thought she was broken. The bottom element in the oven didn't work, the lights under the temperature dial flickered and I had no idea whether it was preheating or heated or going to start heating. I tried everything: switching the fuses, taking off the back panel, checking the element for burned charred bits, researching oven care on the internet, phoning many different companies and trying to make my situation comprehensible in French. Finally, I broke down and called a technician.
He came this afternoon: a skinny man wearing a baseball cap, a denim shirt and jeans. He had a long pony-tail dangling down his back, a slight swagger, smelled of cigarettes and was chewing a toothpick. I explained my problem, he punched a couple of dials and took off his glasses, peered through them at the window, inspecting for dirt smudges (he continued to do this throughout his visit, as well as call me petite mademoiselle, which I found rather hilarious). A minute later, he opened the oven door and there I saw the bottom element burning bright orange. What! I cried. Of course it was something so simple... Turns out, that on this particular model you can set your oven to turn on at a certain time and then turn off. This is called the automatic setting. Somehow, I had punched in the stop dial so that both the start and stop were punched in. Every time I turned the oven on, the current went first from the fuse, through the faulty timers and then to the
thermometer, causing the entire thing to run helter-skelter.
The fun didn't stop when I had no cash (checks are more expensive to process), so I hopped into the repair guy's little pickup truck and we went to the nearest bank, all the while him exuberantly telling me about some guy whose freezer was completely filled with ice and some Italian guy who had taken apart his washer in order to help save time and money, but obviously it just cost him more money in the end. Imagine the things you would see going into people's homes like that! I took out the $45 bucks it cost me to watch him punch in a dial, returned to the truck, gave him the money and he took me home, still going on and on about various clients he'd visited, smoking a cigarette and BLASTING classic rock. I sat there catching 3/4 of what he said in his twangy Quebecois accent, grinning and wondering how on earth the day ended up bringing me into this situation.