Saturday, August 3, 2013

How Do You Say "Thing-Fetcher" in French?

My daughter has been complaining bitterly for a week or so, because the two little Duplo figurines that came with her blocks (who she carries everywhere, and has dubbed La Fille and Le Garçon) have gone missing. We looked all over the apartment to no avail, and the nanny worriedly confessed to having taken them to the park one day, but swore they'd come home at the end of the day. I sighed, and made a mental note to hit the toy store sometime in the next few days, and then thought no more of it until this morning.

This morning, I was looking for a different missing toy, when I happened to look behind the radiator in her room. There were La Fille and Le Garçon! Also two pieces of toy fruit, one Duplo block, the digital thermometer (when did she get her hands on that?), and a small toy egg. Oh, and a pile of old, dusty crumbled paint coating everything. All of it about 18 inches down a tiny little crack too small for my arm, or even hers.

Were we in the US with all of our stuff, I'd head for the garage like the clever tool-using mammal I am, and go grab the tool that I, and everyone I know, calls a "thing-fetcher". It's that handy little deelybobber with the button on one end and claws on the other, sold at finer Home Depots and automotive stores everywhere. However, I had a feeling that if I marched into Leroy Merlin and asked for a "récupérateur des choses", I wasn't going to get very far. Further, as it turns out, even in English, it's not sold as a "thing-fetcher". It is a "pickup tool", which sounds ever so much more refined. A bit of Google Translate later, with a cross-check against some Google shopping results, and I managed to uncover that the tool I want is an "outil de ramassage". And that it is only sold in automotive stores. Which they don't have in Paris. Because everyone takes the metro. Damn and blast.

So in the end, there I was like every primate for the last millennia, fishing out her toys one by one with some sort of stick. (In my case, a plastic coat hanger, but a tree branch would have been just as effective. Maybe more so.) I damp-wiped the toys with a paper towel, and then washed them thoroughly, just in case that was lead paint, and then we vacuumed up the paint chips with a HEPA filter vacuum, and ran the HEPA air purifier in her room for an hour to catch any stray particles. We'll check with the owner about the age of the paint, but it's probably fairly modern.

In the mean time, the little duplo family is reunited, the thermometer is back in the bathroom on a high shelf, and now I just need to figure out how to get twenty-eight cents euro out of the 350 year old mortise and tenon joint on the stairs, where she carefully dropped them one by one...
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