I knew there was a reason I didn't wash the floors last night. Thank goodness I didn't - it would have meant an hour of my life wasted, never to return.

We've been having problems with the shutters in our apartment. Not shutters in the American sense of the word - they're actually like blinds, but more heavy-duty, and on the outside of the window. You raise and lower them by twisting a rod connected to a spool that, in theory, is supposed to wind up the blinds into a recess above the window.

Ours would periodically get stuck, sometimes in the open position (meaning Miriam would wake up at the crack of dawn) and sometimes in the closed position (meaning we spent all day in a cave). Finally, we called our landlady to have them fixed.

The fix-it guy, who is also the landlady's brother, showed up randomly around lunchtime and set to work. First, he twisted the rod vigorously, seemingly confident that it was our own incompetence that was the problem. Nope, still stuck (in the closed position this time). So he opened up the blinds' mechanism and fiddled with a few things, and then again twisted the rod.

A few loud, violent bangs and crashes later, and I realized that if the blinds weren't broken before, they definitely were broken now.

And here's where I really got impressed.

The problem was that several segments of the blinds were not sliding smoothly in the track. When they got stuck, it derailed the blinds' movement.

Now, if I were in charge, I'd just replace the whole blind. But this guy actually set about removing each individual misbehaving segment of blind and replacing it with one taken from a different blind. It was slow, dusty, tedious, painstaking work, and Miriam and I ate lunch while we watched him do it.

Two hours later, he was done. He had me open and close the blinds once more, just to make sure it worked, and then left me with the following instructions, repeated here exactly as he gave them: "Up. Down."

The reason I'm glad I didn't wash the floors last night? My living room is now covered in thick grey dust, as are Miriam's clothes, hands, and feet. Hooray for procrastination!

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