Friday, September 5, 2008

The Start of the “Bathroom Saga”

I suspect that this situation, which I am dubbing “The Bathroom Saga”, will lead to more than one post. I already have more to add in a day or two.
It started with a knock on my door Tuesday evening. My downstairs neighbor hemmed and hawed, and finally pronounced: “We have water dripping from our ceiling..”
So I went and had a look, and the stark facts hit me full force. We have a plumbing problem. So I counted floor tiles from his front door to the spot under the drip, returned upstairs, and calculated where the problem was (again by counting floor tiles). I was instantly struck by the certainty that this is going to be expensive. The leak is directly under our bathtub.
Now let me fill you in a bit about our apartment. The building is not terribly old (34 years?), but is old enough that the old metal pipes just aren’t working anymore. They are disintegrating. The tub is also 34 years old, and the porcelain coating is wearing off in several places.
A lot of places in our house need fixing. Every time I see a sweepstakes with a first prize of “refurbish your house” I rush to enter. I would love to have a new kitchen, a normal dining room table (don’t ask)…you understand, I’m sure. A household of kids can be a bit hard on the furnishings**. [Although -in defense of youth- let me add that twice I’ve had teenage sons do marvelous paint jobs on parts of the house.]
Our bathroom is particularly bad. Places in the wall where past plumbing jobs were done were not refitted with tile (so you see the black concrete beneath). The door to the room has a huge dent in it, where a frustrated teenage son had given a good kick, trying to impress on a sibling that he needed the bath NOW. (I add here to reassure you: He and the sibling both grew up to be non-violent law-abiding citizens.) The shower doesn’t work at all.
So faced with the prospects of major repairs, I called my daughter’s fiancée, who works in related fields. Maybe he is familiar with someone competent that I can trust not to overcharge? His reply: “I’ll do it.”
Now, as much as I enjoy bargains, I need someone competent. But it turns out that he has also done plenty of work in this area as well, and has relatives connected to the business (so he can get parts at cost price). The only catch is he is busy as can be, but he will make the time.
So, on Wednesday he came over to see the leak downstairs, make measurements, and discuss possibilities. When he saw the dilapidated state of our neighbor’s kitchen, he offered to tell him for free how to fix it up. I must admit that my daughter picked a groom with a heart of gold.
And even though a “new bath” was behind a “new kitchen” on my “wish list”, it looks like we will get a refurbished bathroom. Because, if we have to tear out the tub to work underneath it, it doesn’t pay, long tern, to leave things as they are now. It’s almost as if we are being told: “NOW is the time!” [Especially as we will be getting it done at cost price, litterally. Also we are leaving intact anything that is still passable and likely to hold up for the near future. I am not chucking out anything JUST to get "new" if not necessary.]

** There is a Jewish tradition/saying that if a woman has seven sons in a row she is promised heaven: because hell she had already. LOL. I guess I’ll have to do something else to deserve heaven, since my six boys are broken in the middle by Ricki’s older sister. A household of teenage boys is a wild ride, I must admit. But I don’t regret it for a moment.

And a final Note: This downstairs neighbor is the one with the chicken(s). (See post on Elul from September 1st.) When I went to look at the leak on Tuesday night, I noticed that they have only one left. Amazing that one hen can cackle so much!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

....hard on the furnishings...Boy, can I relate! We have three boys, and we are just now buying a real sofa (the youngest is now 12). I couldn't bear the thought of investing money in a nice couch to see it ruined by my rambunctious offspring!