Tuesday, June 06, 2006

No Hot Water In The Winter

I stumbled out of bed on Sunday, in the knowledge that I couldn't really sleep in late because I had to catch the sun and do my laundry. So with bleary eyes, I put the kettle on to make the morning cuppa. The red light didn't come on, I couldn't believe that the second kettle in 4 weeks had died on me again. Sigh. I stuck a cup of water in the microwave instead. Nothing.

Oooohhhh... this was a premonition come true. The fuse had tripped and I had no power. I had been talking about this to C, at least 3 times this week, I don't know why I kept harping on it. Now it's happened. So I went to where I thought the fuse box was to have a look, there was a label which said "Power circuit" but it was hidden behind a wooden panel which was screwed tight to the wall.

Now I was desperate, I rang the loathesome agent and left a voicemail when he didn't pick up. Probably pretending he is in Queensland again. I sent him an SOS text message as well. In the land of the apathetic customer service, I actually got a response back after that. Having my expectations well managed by now, I was nothing short of gushing gratitude. And my lucky stars must have been shining down at me, it wasn't the loathesome, lazy agent who had rung back, it was his boss who had the phone that weekend and when he heard my situation, he said he would come over and take a look.

With my hopes up since I wasn't brushed off with a "I'll be buggered if I know what to do...", I waited. He actually turned up an hour later, with 2 small girls in tow. While I entertained the kids, he found the fuse box (which was not behind the labelled wooden panel as misrepresented) and when he opened it, we saw that it was all charred and the acrid smell filled the apartment. The fuse box had burnt out overnight! If there had been an electric fire, there would have been some trouble. Someone must have been looking over me that night.

The damage was beyond him, so he rang the electrician who then turned up 50 minutes later. Wow, a second good customer service experience. In the same day. This was really changing my extremely low impression of how inefficient and apathetic the level of customer service in this country is. He looked at the box, the burnt out fuses were at least 30 years old as they were a model I have never seen before, big and chunky. He scratched his head and muttered, "oh I don't know what to do about this...". That was not very confidence-inspiring. However with my luck up so far, I refused to let myself lose hope. He fiddled around with his little tools and then trotted off to get some spare parts. Well, he couldn't fix the whole problem but he could put in a bandaid solution just for that day. He would have to come back the following day with the proper parts. The temporary solution meant I could only use electricity sparingly, like one appliance at any one time so as not to overload the mini fuse. Well, that was better than nothing.

That night I exercised self-restraint and used the electric quota very discriminately. To my horror, I also discovered the hot water didn't come back on. It was back to basics, bathing out of a pail after boiling water in a kettle and mixing it with cold water in the pail, and taking a very quick and limited wipe down bath.

The following day, I got home at the appointed time to wait for the electrician to come and put in the permanent fix. The lucky stars stopped shining- I got a call from him to say he couldn't come because the agent was waiting for the landlord who is based in London to "authorise" the repairs. Authorise? Like he had a choice to NOT authorise when this was an essential and not a nice-to-have like a new plasma TV perhaps? We are talking electricity and hot water here. I told him I would have a word with the agent. I didn't have to go very far, the minute I told the agent it was a dire situation as I had no hot water and had been unable to take a hot shower in 2 days, he immediately said he would authorise the repairs and not wait. Thank God for his good sense and decisiveness. See, my expectations are so low now, when someone behaves in a manner which is only expected, I am profusely grateful. Of course, I gushed my thanks like someone who had just been given water after walking around a desert thirsty for days.

So the electrician came and replaced the ancient burnt box with the new fuses, the old ones had just slowly burnt themeselve out over time. But he seemed drunk or high on drugs or the final conclusion I came to, was he had some physical disability because he was swaying so hard on his feet, he was almost tripping over himself. I was worried he would put the wrong wire in and I would be an innocent victim of his mistake later on. But I didn't want to aggravate him by asking him what was wrong with him, besides his speech wasn't slurred, he was coherent, it was just that he was unsteady on his feet. Again, not very confidence-inspiring. But after 2.5 hours, he completed the job and left.

I have my electricity back, and have been able to make a cup of tea, cook myself some pasta and watch CSI. And I have my rubber gloves ready should I need to check out the fuse box anytime soon...


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