Monday, March 16, 2009

Meeting the Neighbors

It has been raining for three days straight here, so when I heard the water trickling, my first thought was, "oh, the rain has shifted and is now hitting against the window. What a pretty sound." And went back to my buttonhole. But hot on the heels of that thought was the realisation, "Hey, we don't have any windows on that side of the apartment--ah crap." I ran to our hall closet and threw open the door, only to discover scalding hot water streaming in through a hole near the light fixture. A hole caused by an earlier problem with a leaking water heater...a problem that was clearly revisiting us.

My roommates and I quickly pulled stuff out of the closet and I kicked into Emergency Mode: "Get my cellphone, it's on the table! Grab the stew pots out of the cupboard!" We arranged a makeshift bucket brigade while I furiously dialed the property manager. Kizzy hid under the table, watching us with concern. The answering company blandly asked me if I thought they needed to call their on-call person. "YES, BECAUSE THERE IS SCALDING HOT WATER POURING THROUGH OUR CEILING." I helpfully explained, and gave her my cell number.

Then I ran upstairs, leaving my roommates to deal with the flood. I pounded on the door of apartment #10, until a quiet Chinese man answered. "I'm so sorry," I said, suddenly realising it was quarter to ten, "But I think your hot water heater is broken." He let me in, and I made my way to the closet, weird deja vu ringing through my head as I passed through a familiar layout with unfamiliar furniture and smells. Sure enough, a pipe had worked loose and was gently spilling water onto the floor, creating a delicate puddle around the drain in the center of the linoleum. A drain that was apparently attached to nothing but our light fixture. The sound was that of a soothing table top fountain. In the quietude, it felt strange to be shouty and hurried, but then I remembered the sound of water pouring into our apartment and my poor roommates (probably scalded senseless by now) hurrying back and fourth with stewpots.

I wrapped my sweater around my hand and yanked on the offending pipe, demanding a saucepan, which was all that would fit under it. My phone rang. The property management's on-call person. He directed me to turn off the valves. "WHICH ONES?" "All of them." Ah, calmness in a storm. I twisted the valves into a horizontal position and the flow of water thankfully, mercifully, stopped. Awkwardness. I introduced myself to my neighbors, then realised it was probably best if I just went...There will be no hot water tonight in apartment number 10, but at least there is no new swimming pool in #6.

When I got back downstairs, Kizzy bounded up to me, licking my knees, worried about the crazy show we'd just put on. I petted and reassured him all was well. Nice men with wrenches and joint tape would be showing up tomorrow, I explained. Later, when the boyf called to say goodnight, I got to relieve the craziness. "I'm just glad we were home," I said, "and awake. Could you imagine what would have happened if it had been the middle of the night? Or we had been gone?" Shudder. It took less than fifteen minutes start to finish--and when I got back downstairs, Jordon had already washed our pots.


Jack Bunny said...

I enjoyed your post - as always.
Sorry for the problem.

On the other hand I'm disappointed. How was the camping trip?


Diane Fields said...

I enjoyed reading your "adventure" in the water heater situation. You are a marvelous writer.
However i know it must have been a shock at the same time.
My husband and i lived in an apartment in the Catskills of New York where a water pipe burst in the basement below us. It sounded pretty bad. The water did rise to our apartment and messed up some of the floors.
Anyway hang in there Nicole. I think of you often.

Diane (from The Toymaker of Williamsburg)