Monday, March 27, 2006

Rain, Rain Go Away

So there I was, sound asleep in my bed, and I was dreaming of rain. In my dream, I thought to myself, “Self, this is a dream and this dream means you must need to pee. Wake up and go to the bathroom.” And a few minutes later, I woke up. It’s funny how you can do that—wake yourself up from a dream that way—isn’t it? I use a similar technique to handle a recurring nightmare that I’ve had sporadically for years and years. In that nightmare, I’m being chased by someone who is going to kill me, but either my legs refuse to move at all, or else I can only run in slow motion. Whenever I have that dream now, I think to myself “Self, this is just a dream. You can do anything in a dream because it’s not real. So just fly away if you can’t run.”, and then I push off from the ground and fly up and away from the danger until I wake up. This happens every time I start to have that nightmare, which, in classically Freudian style, usually pops up when I’m particularly stressed out by something.

Anyway, on this night, when I first woke up, I had one of those moments where you know you’re awake, but it’s taking a couple of minutes to get your mind and your body in sync. I was laying there, waiting for my body to catch up to my brain so that I could go to the bathroom when I realized I could still hear the dripping rain from my dream, and it was right next to my ear.

Now, I am particularly easily confused when I’ve just woken up. Sometimes I have real trouble with language (I’ve been known to address Ash or Hulio or my mom in German and not realize it), and if you ever need to tell me something important, you simply cannot do it when I first wake up because I will not remember it later—in fact, I probably won’t even remember having a conversation with you at all. So this mysterious noise in my room really threw a wrench into the works.

I tried to reason it out: My radiators can be noisy. But they make hissing and bumping noises, not dripping. That can’t be it. Maybe it’s raining in real life. But that noise is definitely in the room, very close to my ear, absolutely not outside. That can’t be it. Hmmmm... The cat must be up to something. Yeah. It’s usually her when you hear strange noises in the night. Stupid cat.

And so I yelled “KNOCK IT OFF!” without opening my eyes or moving. Ash awoke, startled. And my brain took note of the fact that no pitter patter of scampering paws had resulted from the yelling and that the dripping noise hadn’t stopped for even a second. That was definitely strange. So I turned on the light. The cat was nowhere in sight. I looked wildly around and suddenly realized that the dripping noise was coming from my ceiling, where a large bubble had formed just below where my upstairs neighbor’s radiator must be.

My head was instantly filled with visions of a burst radiator flooding the upstairs apartment. That tenant tends to be gone for long stretches of time, but I happened to have seen her in the hallway earlier that evening, so chances were that she was at home. Still, given that it was 2 a.m., chances were also that she was fast asleep and had not a clue that her apartment was (possibly) being flooded. I grabbed the phone and dialed my landlord’s number... and got his voicemail. I left a message, but Bob’s not always super fast about returning my calls, so I wasn’t certain that he would check his voicemail first thing that morning. I walked upstairs to my neighbor’s apartment and knocked on her door, on the off chance (though given the fact that I’ve heard her walking around at 3 a.m. on more than one occasion may mean that it wasn’t such a slim chance after all) that she might be awake. No dice. Now what? I walked out the front door of the building to see if her lights might be on and instead I saw that the guy downstairs had his lights on and I could hear his TV on, too. I also happen to know that he had a similar middle of the night plumbing issue last year, and so thought that he might possibly have a magic emergency maintenance number that I was missing... and I knocked on his door instead. Great logic, but not so hot results. I got another voicemail.

At that point, I didn’t really know what the right course of action to take might be. The drip wasn’t too heavy and I’d caught it almost immediately, thanks to my tiny bladder (I really did have to pee, which is why I didn't just sleep through the noise.).Still, what if it only looked like a little leak and was really about to turn into Niagara Falls? Should I call a plumber? What if Bob refuses to pay for it? I got out a copy of my lease to see if there was anything mentioned about emergency maintenance there. No dice. Being a betting woman at heart (and having no money to pay for an emergency plumber), I stuck a bucket under the drip to catch the water and Ash and I went back to bed on my fold out.

The next morning, in a perfect display of Murphy’s Law, the maintenance crew showed up just as Ash was in the shower and I had just stripped down to nothing so that I could get dressed. I threw my robe back on and grabbed a pair of pajama pants so that I could let them in. Laurel and Hardy came in, looked up at the ceiling, and asked me “Wow! What do you suppose that is?” I DON’T KNOW! ISN’T THAT WHAT THEY PAY YOU FOR? One of them asked me for a broom, then used it to poke at the bubble. He muttered something under his breath about plaster and drywall, then they stomped upstairs to look at the problem from that angle. Ash and I scrambled to finish dressing before they came back. When they returned, they said something about problems with the radiator (pronounced so that the first syllable rhymes with “bad”), then announced that they’d be back in a day or so to fix it.

Now, I realize that based solely on my description in the previous paragraph, one might get the impression that the maintenance crew is incompetent or that I just don’t like them. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are two very nice men, very friendly, and I’ve never seen any evidence that their work is anything other than wonderful. So, even though it seemed like a major issue to my untrained eyes, I figured if they weren’t too concerned about the whole thing, then I probably didn’t need to waste too many more of my brain cells worrying about it. Right?

So a couple of three days go by and the leak stays at a slow drip while small pieces of the ceiling crumble away from the edge of the hole the water is leaking out of. Then, I come home from school one day and Jenna meets me at the door, meowing anxiously and generally acting all freaked out, as though to tell me that strange men had been there! And they came in! And they chopped a hole in the ceiling! And now there are pieces of stuff all over the ground! I spent most of the afternoon sweeping up the mess and wiping plaster dust up in my bedroom. And I keep wondering why this wasn’t a priority repair for Bob? I called a few months ago because my toilet was running all the time (and, no, jiggling the handle didn’t help) and the guys were there to fix it in maybe two days. So apparently a running toilet is a more urgent repair than a leaking ceiling? I mean, sure, it’s possible that they got to the toilet super fast because it was a slow week or something, but seriously, what on earth could have been on their agenda that was more important than the water coming out of a ceiling?

No harm, no foul, I suppose. I rolled up my rug and the water didn’t do any damage to the floors that I might have to argue over when I move out. They’ve installed a patch and once it dries, they’ll be in to paint over it. But I tell you, I’m starting to get a funny feeling in my gut about Bob. Between the new tenant (who removed the original laundry, but keeps replacing it with new piles of dirty laundry—I’m considering dumping it in front of her door whenever she leaves it there), the overdue-shut-off-pending water bill (which was resolved in a timely manner), and the mysterious disappearance of my February rent check, I’m starting to wonder if Bob might not have landed himself in some sort of financial trouble that he’s trying to pass on to his tenants.


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