The 5 Tigers represent the big things in life. This blog is about facing them.

What a week!

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This has been a very eventful week.

It started last Sunday night.  Backstory:  I have lived here since Sept 2011, and there have been water problems the whole time.  Sections of the bathroom ceiling have fallen 3 times, and the kitchen ceiling had only one leak but repairing that took 3 holes in the kitchen ceiling and one in the living room.  The kitchen also has the distinction of taking over 6 months to get fixed, because the apartment complex was sold during the time I was dealing with that.  Obviously the old management team wasn’t invested because they already knew they were out of work, but the new team went through growing pains.  Not only did they consistently get my apartment confused with the one above me but they also had a high turnover during the early  months, so that monthly my maintenance request was marked “completed” and no work was done.

Last Sunday, I noticed another drip in the bathroom.  It happens that the access panel for the air conditioning drip pan is right overhead when you’re standing at the sink, say, brushing your teeth or putting on makeup.  I had 2 water drops fall on my head while I was washing my hands.  I know that I don’t run the a/c in winter, and I especially don’t run it when it’s cold outside.  I’m poor, if I was warm, I’d open a window.  This was not overflow, this was a leak.

I called the office.  It was Sunday so I figured it would wait until Monday.  Actually, I figured that sometimes after noon I’d have to walk over to the rental office because they would have back-burnered me.  Instead, the answering service sent out maintenance that night.  Dude checked it out and could not find the leak.  That didn’t surprise me, since this is a vintage 70’s building and it seems like pretty often the diagrams aren’t as accurate as could be hoped.  Dude said he’d be back Monday morning with his supervisor.  My plan for Monday had been to take care of getting prescriptions picked up for my daughter and I, but it seemed like I could delay it for a couple hours.

Monday morning, I set an alarm so I could get up early.  Unfortunately, I slept through it so I woke up about 8:45.  I got up, made coffee, and began trying to get online activities for the day completed.  I’m unemployed, so that includes job searching and applying, and checking the status of unemployment payments and my welfare application, as well as checking email and catching up with friends on facebook.  Since I don’t own a car and I am not a happy phone talker, I use social media quite a bit.  About 11:00 I realized maintenance still hadn’t come by.  Here in Texas, 11:00 is lunch so I figured the morning was gone.  I took a shower and had lunch and went down to the office.

I was irritated for 2 reasons:  1.  Because for me this has been an on-going issue for 2 1/2 years, even though it hasn’t been the same management company the whole time and 2. Maintenance had been clear that they were definitely coming by in the morning and not only they didn’t come, they also didn’t call to let me know plans had changed.  I figured Dude simply didn’t tell his boss about it.  I didn’t recognize the person in the office, which was more irritation because he wouldn’t know the back story.  I explained to Guy that I was irritated but not at him, and told him about the leak.  He got nervous.  Apparently grumpy middle aged women are scary to young men, must be residual mom issues.  He told me that maintenance decided the leak probably did not originate in my pipes, but rather it was from the apartment above me.  Dude and his boss had talked to the folks upstairs and been denied access to their apartment.  They were waiting for a manager to contact the folks upstairs to figure out their next step.

So, I’ve been waiting all morning for someone to come by because that was the last I was told by a representative of the apartment complex, and nobody could let me know the plans had changed?

My tone must have become even more strained because the assistant manager came out of her office and repeated to me the same information and said they would get back to me.  Well, I’m not stupid, I knew it was Dec 30th, that they would work probably half a day the 31st, they would be closed for New Year’s on Jan 1, and at the earliest I would hear from somebody on Jan 2.  And for the next 4 days, there would be a drip on my head every time I used my bathroom sink.  I offered to knock on the neighbors’ door and ask them myself to let maintenance in, and ass’t manager very quickly told me she didn’t think that would be a good idea.  I confirmed the timeline, told them thank you, and left.

As I was leaving, I heard the ass’t manager talking to Guy.  It began with, “I’m so sorry you had to deal with that” and I didn’t wait to hear the rest.  REALLY?  For over 2 years I’ve been trying to get this fixed, you blew me off that morning, and when I am obviously annoyed by the lack of customer service, I am the bad person?  Not only you don’t apologize to me for the confusion that morning, but you imply that I’m out of line for having expectations of good service from my rental company?  I was perhaps louder than I think, but I did not yell, I did not swear, and I did not imply that anyone currently working there was incompetent.

Now life went on and there is story associated with that, but I’m going to stick to the ceiling leak problem for now.

So on Jan 2, Dude showed up with someone else to look at the ceiling.  They never could get in upstairs, apparently, and decided to see what could be done from here.  They cut several holes in my bathroom ceiling and opened the vent in the living room and actually found the leak, yay!  The pipe got clamped to stop the current leak, but Dude explained that it was about 6 feet of pipe with 4 patches on it, so at some point we’d need to get an actual plumber out here to replace the pipe.  Dude patched the ceiling with cardboard until the rest of the repair is done.  No timeline provided, but I expect it to be a week anyway since plumbers are busy during freeze season.

Now a thing about pipes is, they run between the walls.  And you may not know this, but a thing about having electricity in an apartment is that the wires run between the walls.  Maintenance probably very wisely turned off my breakers before messing with the plumbing.  They did not turn them back on.  About 20 minutes after they left, I realized I had to heat so I called them back.  They flipped the switch, fan started blowing hot air, it was all good.

I went out to pick up my daughter’s prescriptions (yes, the ones from Dec 30, and that’s another story) and when I got back, the apartment was still freezing.  I turned up the thermostat in case it had somehow gotten reset earlier.  Nothing.  No fan, no click of turning on, nothing.  Not good.  It was midnight.  I called my daughter at her friend’s house and suggested she simply stay there.  I did not expect anyone to fix the problem that night due to the hour and I didn’t want her to get cold.  Me?  Well, I have winter camped, I can turn on appliances and the tv for heat and cuddle under blankets and be happy.  I called the answering service, figuring someone would get a message in the morning.

About 12:15, there was a knock on my door and it was Dude.  I apologized and he came in and tried to turn heat back on.  It turned out that some of the wiring had gotten wet and was shorting the breaker.  Dude pulled the wet parts and rewired the heat.  He turned on the breaker, heat came on, and he left.

At 3:00 am, I woke up.  I’m a middle aged lady, I wake up to pee in the middle of the night now.  However, when I woke up, I was sweating buckets.  The heat blows directly on me when I’m sleeping, so I got back into bed and waited for the fan to stop.  It didn’t.  I looked at the thermostat.  I had it set around 70F and it read 85F.  I clicked the switch on the side from “heat” to “off”.  Hot air was still blowing through the vents.  I clicked it to “cool”.  I heard the a/c come on, and I could feel cool air as well as warm air blown out the vent.  I turned it back to off and called the answering service.

Miracle of miracles, Dude came back.  Now remember this is 3 o’clock in the morning and the building is not in imminent danger of collapse, there is neither fire nor flood, and this is not life-threatening.  I’m pretty impressed with Dude right now, I tell you.  He went back between the walls and got the system to work.  I can’t work properly because the temperatures on the thermostat still don’t sync up properly, but it does go on and off and the ambient temperature is generally comfortable.  I talked to someone in the rental office who said they’ll replace the thermostat.  I reminded them that it probably wasn’t worth it until after the plumber has fixed the pipe, so for now I have a thermostat that doesn’t work quite properly but it does work, no leak in the bathroom, and a cardboard ceiling.

But man, I am impressed with Dude.

Author: Allison Leonard / Kiss5Tigers

I like sci-fi movies, and I noticed that I like the noir ones best. They are almost universally set in a sort of post-apocalyptic dystopia. I later realized, I find them comforting and familiar, probably because I live there, at least in my inner life. Perhaps things are not as bleak as they seem, or perhaps I am simply learning to keep a better attitude. This is the chronicle of my adventures. May you find something valuable here.

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