Service

shallow focus photography of gray espresso machine
Image from Unsplash taken by Andrew Tanglao

Kane shifted uncomfortably. “I’m not really here that often,” he said. “If you’re giving a demonstration about how to service the coffee machines, you should speak to Jane. I’m just hear as an interested bystander.”

“And to ask my questions,” Bob said, his ghostly form peering closely at the machine.

“Although I’m sure I’ll have a few questions,” Kane added.

Jane nodded at the engineer. “That was the agreement. You show me how to service the machine and what I need to do to keep it working in good order.”

Bob hissed in Kane’s ear, “Watch he doesn’t over tighten stuff when he closes it all up. It’s a nasty trick some plumbers use, to make sure that a lass on her own has to call them out. He has the tools, you see, that can get nuts and bolts a bit tighter. It’s a dirty trick.”

Kane nodded. “Can I just check? When you’ve gone over it, you’ll watch Jane take it apart and do the service again, to make sure she knows what she’s doing?”

The engineer shot him a dark look. “Will you be having a go as well?”

Kane shook his head. “No, I’m just watching.”

“We have allowed a whole morning,” Jane said. “That should be plenty of time.”

“I can manage it in a morning,” the engineer said, “but it will take you some practice to be as quick.” He unrolled his took kit. “Can I check your tools?”

As the engineer picked over Jane’s comprehensive toolkit, Bob fretted around Kane. “He’s no good, really. I’ll be watching him. He’ll miss out a step that will mean a call out, or he’ll go too fast. It’s a good thing I’m here.”

“You may have to explain things to me,” Kane muttered in the background, trying to keep away from the engineer. “I haven’t got a clue.”

“Don’t worry,” Bob said, “I’ll keep you straight.”

It was an interesting morning. Kane was used to ghosts, so the shade of Bob hissing questions was nothing new. It was fun watching the engineer’s expression.

“Of course I’m going to use the descaler on these parts,” the engineer said. “I was just waiting for the right moment. May I have a jug to soak the parts?”

Under Bob’s instructions, Kane cut the bottom off a large, empty milk jug, rinsed it well and handed it over. “That should do, shouldn’t it?”

The engineer grunted. “It should be adequate. Now, let’s get back to this seal…”

“If we need to replace it, where do we get a new one?” Kane asked, prompted by Bob.

The engineer was rattled, “I always recommend going to the manufacturer,” he said. “That way you know you have a genuine part.”

Bob grunted. “It depends on the kit. Sometimes you don’t need the fancy stuff and get something from the builder’s merchants.” He shook his spectral head. “But with this machine costing so much, it’s probably best to be careful.”

“As I was saying,” the engineer glared at Kane, “the seal is seated here.” Jane watched with interest as the seal was neatly fitted. The engineer nodded, “And then we can screw this housing over it.”

Kane jumped as Bob shouted in his ear. “Is that seal properly set?” he asked. “I thought I saw it move.” Translating a ghost’s outrage into polite words to the living was a skill, and Kane had earned that skill.

The engineer shot Kane a suspicious look and looked closer. Everyone could hear the click as the seal fitted snugly into its spot. “Well spotted, lad. Have you done this sort of thing before?”

Kane shook his head. “But I believe in listening and paying attention,” he said with complete honesty.

“Hmm,” the engineer said, shooting a dark look at Jane who was watching with bland interest and fitting on the housing. “That should more or less-”

He’s forgotten a part!” Bob shrieked in Kane’s ear.

Kane nearly fell over and managed to gasp, “Where does that go?” as he pointed to a small rod next to the engineer.”

“Well spotted!” the engineer blustered, “I was just checking to see if you noticed.”

Kane managed a weak smile as Jane tried to hide her giggles behind the engineer as he fitted the part. The engineer was taking meticulous care while shooting glances over at Kane. “It’s very interesting,” Kane managed.

“That about wraps it up,” the engineer said. “I’ll be sending you the invoice.”

“Wonderful,” Jane said. “And can I have your card for the UNC folder?”

“Happy to oblige, miss.” The engineer rummaged in his pockets and pulled out a card and, after a further rummage, a pen. “And you can get me anytime on this number,” he said as he scrawled a number on the back.

“Thank you,” Jane smiled and eased him out of the shop, sagging slightly when he was out of sight. “That was an education. Did Bob make you jump?” she asked Kane.

“I think Bob took at as a professional insult,” Kane said. “What is the UNC folder?”

“I keep a record of business cards in it,” Jane said. “Numbers of businesses that I want to use again or that I found helpful get saved on my phone and laptop. The rest go in the UNC folder. It stands for ‘Use Under No Circumstances’ and I’m definitely putting this one there.” She smiled. “And thank Bob for me. If he hadn’t been watching, I’m sure I would have had to pay for a lot more visits. He’s saved me a fortune!”

Bob smiled broadly. “I’m happy to help out,” he said. “Anything for Ellen’s lass.”

4 thoughts on “Service

  1. Loved that story, thanks Lyssa. I wouldn’t mind having a ghost like Bob watching on when my car has to go to the garage! Helen

    1. I know! He’d be peering over the mechanic’s shoulder and tutting! I’m glad that you enjoyed it. Thank you for commenting.

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