Monday, July 7, 2008

Water Heater Blues, pt 2

Well, it has been quite a weekend, fortunately not a very expensive one, however. Last week I mentioned that I was having hot water problems - the solution was both simpler and more complicated then I thought -

Tuesday night I was in quite a funk. Here I had barely moved into the house and I was already having problems - first, the tenant tells me her toilet is filling slowly and now the hot water is out. I called everyone I knew who I thought could help, but no luck. So out of options, I decided to bite the bullet and call the plumber in the morning.

On Wednesday I arranged for the plumber to come out sometime during the mid-afternoon. They said be between 3:00 and 5:00. Around 2:00 my little town got hit with a huge storm - the worst I can remember in I don't know how long. I kept waiting for the plumber to call, knowing that they were probably busy with the storm but also concerned about my own lack of hot water. Having not heard from them by 4:00. I called to make sure I was still on the schedule.

I was, but sure enough, they were running behind. They said it would be another hour or so. Though normally I work until 7:00, that night I left early - afraid that I would miss them and have to wait another day. As I drove home, I couldn't believe it - my neighborhood looked like a war zone; trees were down everywhere, emergency vehicles on practically every corner. One of my normal routes home was so flooded with water that the whole area was blocked with firetrucks, a huge catalpa tree came down across my street blocking another corner. I wasn't surprised when I found that I was without power.

That's when I realized I was also without gas. A long, tedious and painful phone call to the gas company later and I found out my hot water heater would probably be fine - if the gas had been turned on. A savvy homeowner or one who had dealt with hot water heaters before would have probably picked that up immediately, but I didn't know. I hadn't used the stove lately and it never occurred to me that the gas would be out. Apparently something went awry when my ex transfered the gas into my name, so they shut it off.

Dealing with the gas company is like some mad story out of Brother's Grimm. Naturally they don't come out the day you call. Instead they punish you and test your mental fortitude by making you to sit home by the phone
hoping that the gas man may come, from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. (when they "usually"are done for the day.) At some point they may grant you with their presence. Dare not ask what time! They will determine that - you lowly schmo who had your gas turned off - you are not worthy of being told when! You just sit there and pray they will come at all! And should you falter, even for only a moment, you are out of luck!! Miss their all powerful phone call, fail to hear their all important knock and your request will be denied! They will leave you in your cold shower wasteland, for that is what you deserve. You can then get on your knees and beg the gas warlord to please, please give another chance. ... and the all mighty DTE may deign to consider it.

It is ridiculous, but what could I do? I agreed to their conditions - and while I was on the phone with them, the plumber showed up. I obviously didn't need him to help with the water heater anymore, so I weakly showed him to the tenant's toilet. Which he fixed, in about 3.5 minutes. (Wouldn't it be nice if they charged by the minute?)

After the plumber left I sat staring out the window at the rain continuing to come down and the light on my neighbors porch. Slowly I realized the light on my neighbor's porch... was on.... I quickly called Consumer's Power. If the gas had gotten shut off, wasn't it feasible that the electricity had been shut off too?

As it turns out, no. Another long and tedious phone call later I was relived to find out that the power was just plain out due to the storm. My neighbor being on a different grid, just got the luck of the draw. Knowing that nothing more was going to happen that night, I followed the advice of a dear friend and went out pamper myself. I took myself out for Indian food and a bit of wine. It may hurt my dining out budget for this month, but it was necessary for my sanity.

So, Thursday I woke early and called my office to let them know that I was sitting at home awaiting on the gas man. Then I went back to sleep - cell phone snuggled close by my ear. Later I woke up and tried to do some things around the house, unpacking and whatnot. I admit though, I had a hard time, I was feeling depressed about the whole situation. It was all just so frustrating! I know that the universe does not revolve around me - I know the water and the gas and the toilet and everything else had nothing to do with me; it was all coincidence, and yet it felt like things were all crashing in the moment I tried to move into this house with my hopeful attitude. I did manage to get a few things done, despite my case of the blues. I called Catie and she came over and got my frozen food and put it in her freezer so I didn't lose some very expensive meat and I got a handful of boxes unpacked and the front porch swept of storm debris. The gas guy arrived late afternoon, so I could finally leave the house and get lunch at 4:00.

The power didn't come on until Saturday, but as of now I have both hot water and electricity - though there is another storm brewing and it is making me nervous....

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