Thursday, October 26, 2006

Last One on the Ark is a Rotten Egg

I'm writing this post from a hotel room, which would usually be a good thing because if nothing else, it would mean that I'm not immersed in my regular routine of work and school. This time, however, it is a little less exciting because the hotel, the EconoLodge, to be exact, is my temporary home. Here's why.

Monday morning, 9:30 AM: I spot a puddle in the downstairs bathroom of my apartment. It's not a large puddle, and I am not alarmed. I plan to go get tell the manager so she can have it fixed.

9:45 AM: I talk to the manager. She calls maintenance on the walkie-talkie. He says he's much too busy to come look at a leak right now, but he will be there as soon as he's free. I pass him on the way back to the apartment. In what will later strike me as fitting irony, he is watering the flowerbeds out front of the complex.

10:00 AM: I go to check on the puddle, only to find that the entire bathroom is now covered in about an inch and a half of water. The water is seeping into the (carpeted) hallway. I begin to grow alarmed.

10:30 AM: Maintenance has not arrived. The leak has spread through the hallway and into the living room. All of the downstairs carpets now squish when I walk on them.

10:45 AM: Maintenance has still not arrived. I decide to take matters into my own hands and locate the leak. I squish around checking toilets, showers, faucets, hot water heaters, the dishwasher, my roommate's bedroom, etc. I cannot locate the source of the water. The puddle grows.

11:06 AM: Maintenance arrives. I show him the water. I tell him everywhere it's not coming from. He proceeds to check all of these places, at great length, without shutting off the water. The puddle grows.

11:20 AM: I hear ripping. Maintenance has ripped up the carpet. He found more water.

11:35 AM: Maintenance gives up, shuts off the water, and calls a plumber.

12:00 PM: The plumber arrives! Hooray!

12:10 PM: I hear a lot of sawing and banging, but I take it as a good sign.

12:20 PM: The plumber goes outside. More banging.

12:31 PM: The plumber leaves without a word. I am confused, but decide that he must have gone to lunch, and I will just wait for him to get back. I email my professor and tell him I won't be in class.

1:30 PM: The plumber has not returned.

2:00 PM: No sign of the derelict plumber. I begin to grow angry.

3:00 PM: Still no sign of the plumber. I email work and tell them I won't be in tonight and I may not be in tomorrow morning.

3:30 PM: As the plumber has not returned, I go back over to talk to the management, and see if they know anything. Yes, they say. We told him to leave. Why? You have a burst water pipe. It's in the floor. We have to tear out the concrete. We've been trying to figure out where to put you. We were going to move you into a vacant apartment, but we don't have any vacancies. We're looking for a hotel. We'll let you know what we find.

4:30 PM: No word from management. The carpet, which is in a wet pile in the corner, is starting to smell.

5:16 PM: Management calls. We're moving into the Econo Lodge tonight. She doesn't know the work crew, so she suggests we take anything valuable with us. And she doesn't know when we'll be able to get back in, so we should plan accordingly. I immediately grab all the books I'll need until Christmas. I might be homeless, but I will be well read.

7:00 PM: We check into the hotel. I am fairly pleased with myself as I have decided that I would make a great refugee, should the situation ever present itself. I had everything packed up, including a week's worth of food, in an hour. If this had been an actual emergency, I'm sure I could be on the road and on my way out of the country in 45 minutes, tops.

7:03 PM: I start thinking of ways that I could make my Emerency Evacuation time even quicker. Like, I could keep a bag packed at the back of my closet, with a list of things I might want to bring along laminated and tucked inside.

7:05 PM: I decide that I really must get a passport, pronto.

This ends the Adventure of the Problem Plumbing.

So far hotel life is not so bad. The Econo Lodge boasts a fairly decent continental breakfast, except for the orange juice, which is considerably watered down, and the dry cereal selection which is pretty much limited to Fruit Loops and Raisin Bran. They have bagels, though, with individual packets of jelly and cream cheese, so I can grab several for lunch and dinner because I am refusing to eat out. And, I've found that "My Apartment Flooded and I Had to Move Into a Hotel so They Can Drill Through My Floor" is a pretty good story. It's earned me a lot of sympathy, which is sufficient to soften the blow. Plus, living in a hotel, at least for the time being, does have kind of an adventurous feel to it. Hotels are not part of normal, day-to-day life, so they make every day feel, if not special at least different. I kind of feel like I'm a step away from a rootless existance, and I could just pick up and go somewhere if I wanted, and never come back. All of this combined has given me something of an I-don't-have-to-take-this-crap attitude at work, which is probably not something that I will want to cultivate, but has been rewarding this week. My boss actually gave me a long overdue apology today.

Of course, I can see the possibility that prolonged hotel living could get old. For one thing, I have not been sleeping. People pull their little rolling suitcases along all kinds of resistant surfaces at all hours of the day and night. To complicate things, to this day, whenever I sleep in a hotel, I automatically wake up at 5 or 6 in the morning, I think because 90% of my hotel experiences have been when I was traveling with my dad, who likes to get an early start so that we beat the traffic. It doesn't matter where we are. Most of the time the hotels that we were leaving at 6 in the morning were in Joplin, Missouri, which doesn't have just a whole lot of really bad traffic.

(On a side note, starting my freshman year of undergrad, my dad bought season tickets to the basketball games at my school, and he and my brother would come down and we'd all go to the basketball game together. My family lives about two hours away, but my dad always left home four hours or so before the game was supposed to start. When anyone asked why he needed to leave so early, he cited traffice concerns. He would invariably arrive about two hours early for the game, but since I lived in a dorm, and men weren't allowed in the dorm, we ended up just heading over to the basketball game. I distinctly remember several times being the only three people in the stands, 1 hour and 45 minutes on the clock counting down the time to the game, watching people setting up for the game. My senior year I was telling a friend about our traditional early arrival, and he interrupted me to ask where we sat. He had worked there freshman year setting up audio equipment, and remembered seeing us and wondering why the heck we were there. This is the kind of powerful traffic concern that has been waking me up all week.)

I actually think we'll be moving back into the apartment soon. Somehow they were able to find and repair the leak without digging into the floor, so they're just repairing water damage, drying the carpet, and moving our furniture back in, instead of pouring concrete. It was the pouring concrete that was going to slow the process down. All in all, it really hasn't been a bad experience. It wasn't convenient, but it offered me a break from my work, a pretty unquestionable excuse, and a chance to think about what books I would take with me if I suddenly had to head for the border. And bagels. Lots of bagels.

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