25 September 2007


Still no piano. After several hours, and several phone calls unanswered to the delivery man who called me in the first place, I spoke with the piano company man, who told me that the delivery men had attempted to pick up the piano "three or four times" over the last week but they hadn't ever let them take it because they didn't have "the ticket" (i.e., the sales receipt). It was absolutely necessary, it transpires, that I go down to the store in person and bring them the receipt.

What I want to know, is why I only found this out after THREE attempts at pick-up, over the course of TWO weeks, and why they never CALLED us to get the receipt instead of banging their heads repeatedly against the same difficulty? Why, during ANY of the several times M. e-mailed or called in an attempt to move things along, did they not mention this detail? (At one point they even told us--patently untrue--that they had already picked the piano up from the secondhand place and was being stored at their piano shop.) It all boggles the mind.

It's tempting to blame such blatant demonstrations of ineffeciency and incompetence (repeated over and over again in our day to day life in Brussels) on the government. Or, I should say, the non-government. Belgium just celebrated (with a big sparkly cake) the 100th day of having no elected government.

Everyone's talking about whether the country will split in two or not; certainly we've been astounded by the palpable sense that there is greater division between the two parts of Belgium than any two neighboring countries. But evidently Belgians are fond of their monarchs, and besides, Brussels would be an unsolvable mess: a mostly francophone city in the midst of Dutch-speaking Flanders.

The complexity of regional, city, and town governments are astounding; nothing gets done because there's just too much governance. Especially because it's just a little sliver of a country not much bigger than my home state, Vermont, it's hard to imagine why it is so difficult to smoothly run a bilingual and multicultural country.

Anyway. I just want my piano.

PS: for a nice recent review of the Belgian-split problem, see this NYTimes article.

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