Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Walking uphill both ways, through the snow

That's what Christina and I have been doing lately each time we go somewhere -- to get to the subway station, we have to go up a hill and then down a hill, so we really do have to go uphill both ways :-)

After the 2+ feet of snow we got a couple of days ago, we're now getting another 6+ inches. I'm finally at the point where my reaction is no longer "Ooh, snow is cool, it makes everything look pretty" but rather "#%#$@#$, more #$#$ snow ?". And that's without even having to shovel any snow. I think if I had to do that, I'd just buy a snowmobile and forget about shoveling anything.

... and, caused by the snow, another entry in the category of "Situations you never thought you'd find yourself in": as I mentioned earlier, the pipes in our apartment building froze after the blizzard, so we didn't have any water in our kitchen. After calling our landlord in vain for a day [smart man, he probably turned off his cellphone], we finally reached him on Monday. A bit of explanation is in order about him: he's a Portuguese man who apparently came to the US about 20 years ago with just the clothes on his back and now owns several apartment buildings. In other words, he works pretty damn hard. However, and this is the downside of it, he still insists on doing pretty much all the necessary maintenance on his apartments himself. Or, more accurately, I should say that he and his family [his wife, five daughters, one son] do all the maintenance -- I've seen his wife shoveling snow outside our apartment a few times now and one of his kids sweeps the hallways in our apartment building every Saturday morning at 7 am or some such ungodly hour. What this friends-and-family maintenance plan means is that the maintenance is generally pretty sketchy because his mode of operation is pretty much "patch it up for now so the tenants stop complaining, don't think too hard about the long term".

In the case of our frozen pipes, he arrived on Monday afternoon with two of his teenage daughters in tow and disappeared into the basement. Christina and I went down there to check on him around 4pm and he was in the process of thawing the frozen pipes [via some gadget that, I think, generates heat in the pipes by running a current through them ...] and boldly proclaimed that he'd be done in about an hour or so. When four hours had gone by and we still didn't have water, I went down there to check on what was going on [at Christina's, uhm, request ;-)] and found him soldering water pipes together with just a little itty-bitty flashlight providing the illumination [there's no light in the basement] and a flame and spool of soldering wire that seemed more appropriate for use on a high school shop project than fixing plumbing for a 6-unit apartment building. I went back upstairs to get another flashlight and then found myself helping a 50+ year-old Portuguese man, his three teenage daughters and teenage son to solder together pipes in a damp, dark basement. Talk about the blind leading the blind ... If you'd shown me that scene a year ago and asked me to spin a story about how I could possibly have gotten there, I don't think I would have been able to come up with anything remotely plausible. Life is funny that way.

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