Saturday, October 14, 2006

Friday the 13th: Be afraid!

I am not superstitious. Nor am I a triskadecaphobic.

Or at least, I wasn't. Now I'm not so sure.

First, a little back story. I have been feeling under the weather for a while. The jury is still out as to what exactly caused the coughing attacks I was suffering for the past week. By Thursday evening, I had added congestion. And general achiness. Which, yes, sounds like the flu. It was in this state that I was heading towards bed around 10:30 when there was an insistent knocking on the door. It was the guy who lives below us (who is also connected to property management). He wanted to know if we had a leak in our heating unit. Not that we knew of, but he checked and then told us there seemed to be a slow leak above us, no big deal, they'd fix it tomorrow. OK, whatever, I just wanted to sleep. It was a restless night and I got up several times, each time noticing that my balance was especially poor and my head was swimming. Not pleasant.

Friday morning, I got up at my usual time and went to check my email. I was still pretty dizzy and noticed that sitting upright increased the pressure in my head. And so I made the decision that I would stay home. This was a pretty big decision for me since I attend three classes a week, two of them on Fridays. So emails to the professors involved and a couple of friends who could take notes for me. My wife took my son off to school and I went back to bed.

I woke up long enough to have the latte my wife made for me upon her return. She then went off to an appointment and I lounged, not quite sleeping, but not doing anything in particular. I noted that there definitely was a noise coming from our heating unit, but figured the repairmen would be in soon.

At about 10 am, several maintenance men came by. That's when things got fun. They went to check our unit and see if they could spot the leak. As they moved things to get in closer to the unit, they noticed that there was a steady stream of water pouring over our balcony (we rarely go anywhere near the door since we figure 3-year-olds and balconies don't mix). And there was some water in the carpet right around the base of the heater.

The maintenance men went off to check one other thing and "turn off the water." I started to move things away from the wet area and noticed that it was actively spreading. I peeked inside the heating unit and could see where the water was spraying; it seemed to be getting stronger. After a bit, I had the inspiration of going to check the master bedroom, which is on the other side of the wall with the heater. Lo and behold, water there, spreading quickly.

At this point, dizzy and exhausted, I sprang into action, moving as much as I could away from the areas that seemed most threatened. It concerned me that I could still hear the water pouring through the hole and that the maintenance men had not returned, but I didn't know what else to do. I tried to do some school work as I waited, but had almost dozed back off when they returned. They checked a couple of things, said they were on it, and left again.

My wife got back shortly after, and I filled her in on the many things that had happened in the hour and a half she'd been gone. During the time it took her to find our shop vac in storage and run it over the squishiest parts of the carpet, the water finally stopped running. So at least things wouldn't get any wetter.

The rest of our afternoon was taken up with phone calls and a variety of people in our apartment. Neither property management nor our rental company seemed to know who was doing what about anything. Someone came to move some of our furniture so that they would be able to lift part of the carpet and bring in blowers. But of course, he had no knowledge about who was bringing the blowers or when that might happen. As the afternoon marched on towards the time we needed to pick up our son, we made a snap decision--using credit card points, my wife booked us into a nice hotel. We packed up some clothes, school books, and trains and cars, and headed to our son's preschool. Yes, someone, probably property management, should have been taking care of this, but we were sick of waiting around and leaving voice mails.

We had chosen the hotel based, at least in part, on its proximity to our son's school, so we the three of us walked there. It took longer than expected to check in because the reservation had not been processed by their computer, but that got sorted out. Our son, ever the trooper, took one look at the hotel room, immediately pointed to the closed armoire, and asked to watch "Nemo." This would be because one of the times we stayed in a hotel, "Finding Nemo" was playing. We didn't have that, but were able to find something to satisfy him. We also got out the selection of trains and tracks and set up a mini-play area for him. He of course asked for several trains I had not brought. When I tried to explain that he could play with them tomorrow when we got home, he seemed mostly to be appeased and to understand, but he also said something about "new home." Which is when my wife and I realized that he probably thought we were moving since we had done something very similar when we moved last year.

One room service meal later, we were all in our pajamas and exhausted from the day's events. Or rather, my wife and I were exhausted and our son wanted to watch more 'Letters' (which is "Wheel of Fortune"--he loves watching the letters appear on the screen). When it finished at 7:30, we turned off the lights. I was asleep almost immediately, though my son's poking and pinching woke me periodically. Even he was asleep by 9.

Now, 24 hours later, things have settled down a little bit. We got back to our apartment a little after 10 am. The maintenance men were fixing our heating unit and the blowers were working on the carpet. At this point, the heat is entirely functional--they'll fix the holes in the drywall later. Our living room carpet is drying out faster than the bedroom's, but it seems likely we'll get out of this without mold. Our son's room is untouched, other than the extra things we shoved into it, so he's sleeping there. After I finish typing this, my wife and I will set up our air mattress in the living room, as our bed frame is propped up to facilitate drying. As my wife said this evening, we are sheltering "on site."

One side note: When my wife tried to go online at the hotel, we discovered that it was not free. Seriously, an upscale hotel where wireless access is not included! It meant missing Battlestar Galactica and no email or blogging. That may have been the worst hardship of all.

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