Saturday, June 24, 2006

Niagara Falls

This Saturday started off like any other. Got up, made coffee, sat and stared. Turned on the tv for Saturday Kitchen. Suddenly I heard a gusher outside. Thinking it was raining, I looked out the window wondering how something this powerful could just blow out of nowhere...I'd known it was overcast but it didn't look stormy.

But it wasn't raining.

Through the fog of morning, I remembered the last tenant, Amy, saying that one of the oddities of English plumbing involved water flowing into the garden from a pipe in the back wall near the roof. And I remembered Amy saying this was bad, but didn't remember the cause or what to do.

Sure enough, it was like there was a hose on full blast pouring from the attic. Panic.

Kat thought it was the hot water tank being too full, so we tried to drain the hot water. We did, but the water kept flowing. So she called her dad, and he explained that there is a tank in the loft that has a ball-apparatus (like a toilet tank) to keep the water level from getting to high, and if the ball floats too high the tank overflows out this pipe. Furthermore, this is officially a plumbing emergency, so we needed to get someone out ASAP.

Okay. First step, call the plumber's insurance that my landlord has since he lives abroad. It covers all sorts of things, but does not cover this. The kid on the phone was nice enough, though, and I was short with him when he kept me on the line asking questions about where I'm from and how I like the UK after we'd established a) this was an emergency and b) he could not send someone to solve it.

Tried two more plumbers in the yellow pages before I found one to come out and fix it. £130 later things are back to normal.

Can I just say that public utilities and plumbing/heating are the single worst part of living abroad? Nothing is set up the same so you don't know how things work, what they do and don't do, and what is happening if something goes wrong. The process of dealing with service procedures and general logistics is different as well. And no one seems to have a sense of urgency once they hear my accent..Theyy are all curious about me and why I'm here, bless them, but could I just once call a 0800 number and not get grilled about being an American? I just want my toilet to flush, thanks.

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