Since we live in a secured building, 99% of the time, when we get someone visiting, they have to ring our bell to be let into the building. One percent of our guests have been sneaky enough to get in with another resident as they are coming in. So when our front doorbell rings, we are a bit suspicious as to who may be there.
Last night the doorbell did not ring, but there was knock at 10:30 pm. We ignored it until the knock persisted. Ron knew immediately, who it would be…THE NEIGHBOR.
We were informed that at 1:00 tomorrow, the manager of the building would be coming to look at the flood in their two bathrooms and to investigate our leak. I have learned not to allow this to make my nights sleepless. It could be age, but we have covered our bases, so it was with confidence it was not our problem that I went to bed.
When 1:30 rolled around and no one showed, I remained mellow reading my book “The Shadow of the Sun” about the horrors of Africa by the Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski. My neighbor problems seemed trivial in comparison.
At 2:00, we were SMS’ed that the people would arrive at 2:30. Yea, sure! I called my friend Laszlo to ask if he were free to phone interpret. I did not want our neighbor to translate for us; my trust level has diminished.
When the building man showed up with who I assumed was the plumber, they were like water diviners. With the immediacy of two bloodhounds on a hot trail, they went to the small bathroom, looked for two minutes and said the problem was a broken pipe in the wall. On the wall is a red cap, which apparently turns the water on and off. When the neighbor asked if the plumber could work on it then and there, I said sure. Little did I know.
There was an old Bob Newhart Show who had three characters. The one always introduced himself by saying “Hi, my name is Darryl, this is my brother Darryl and my other brother Darryl.” They were a cross between rednecks and hillbillies. This was my first impression of the plumber. His hair was short and springing in all directions. He wore a blue coverall that had straps down below his waist allowing the waist of the coverall to hang close to his bellybutton. The legs of the coverall were so flared, they looked like they were cut at the seams. The expression on his face was what one would expect from a baby raised by wild animals who came into contact with humans for the first time.
The neighbor said they would have to shut the water off for an hour. He was going to take his over energetic son home and he would return when the plumber did. Two hours later, the neighbor returned with the plumber on his heels. I was asked again if they could work on it now and again I said yes. The next thing to break the silence were bangs, clangs, and other industrious sounding noises filling the closet size bathroom with the plumber. It seemed like quite a cacophony for one little knob. The neighbor asked me down to see his bathrooms, to appreciate the damage.
One look gave me a new appreciation for their dilemma. Their small bathroom was ruined from the ceiling down to where the tile started half way down the wall. It was blistering and looked ready to fall in. As horrific as this was, the large bathroom was even worse, looking life the aftermath of a hurricane. Yes, I felt saddened and ashamed that they had to live with this while my attitude was turning self-protective and apathetic.
I raced back upstairs, hoping the plumber did not leave for any reason and close the door behind him. Ron was out teaching and I was without my keys. My timing was impeccable. The hallway was flooded. The small bathroom was flooded. The plumber passed me in the doorway as I walked in without a word exchanged since we could not speak the same language even in this emergency. The neighbor had to interpret that as the plumber was breaking through our tiles to get to the pipe, the pipe had its last hoorah and broke completely pouring water up and out. They had to shut off the main water valve in the building.
Bear in mind that we have 4 B and B guests in one room and a single in the other. The group of four are college friends of one of the Fulbrighters here, who stayed out really late last night and I was hoping would do so again. Neither bathroom had water.
The plumber worked on getting the pipe out until 9:30 pm before disappearing from the apartment below and without turning the water back on. Seven people in our apartment without running water in either bathroom, was not a pleasant thought. Again, I let my mind drift back to the trials of Africans and went to bed in peace, leaving Ron to stay up to tell our British guest.