The good: A simple phone call to “202” fixes any and all maintenance problems.
The bad: Today I had two minor maintenance situations and no less than eleven , yes, ELEVEN men have been here to fix them – two, simple, minor little maintenance problems.
The ugly: Me, at this point. Ugly beyond belief.
I have much to do in the next twenty days before leaving, again, for a short visit to the States – my third trip in six months. My list has six million three thousand and eleven “things to do” on it… So much to do, so little time… Deciding to eliminate two of those “things to do” off my list I called “202” first thing this morning to see about having the freezer door repaired and the dryer vent fixed.
Our refrigerator, supplied by housing, here, is probably going on thirty years old – it is at least twenty years old. It is one of those ‘fridge on the bottom, freezer on the top. Standard, basic model. No ice maker, no water dispenser. Nothing fancy. For three years now, I have lived with opening the freezer door and having whatever is on the bottom “shelf” of the actual door falling out onto the floor. The cheesy little metal bar that holds the items on the shelf was broken at some point before we moved in. Typically, I just pick up the frozen peas, the “kid” ice creams, and the box of Eggo’s that only has one waffle left in it, put the little metal bar back in, and then put the “stuff” back on this shelf. At this point, the metal bar is swimming in the holes where it is supported as the plastic molding has been chipped away little by little each time the bar falls out and is then replaced. When a can of frozen limeade fell out this past weekend and got me on the top of the foot, having this fixed made its way from being lost in the middle to the top of the “list.”
The dryer is another story. The vent hose – connected from the back of the dryer to the “hole” in the floor to blow the “hot air” outside has not stayed in place from the very beginning – from the day it was hooked up. My husband or my “house assistant” has to fix this for me almost every time I use the dryer [daily] as the hose “releases” itself and blows hot air into the kitchen. When it is 110 degrees outside, and your air conditioner is already working overtime, the very last thing you want blowing on you is hot air, especially if you have to be in the kitchen because you are cooking food for the “kids” to stock the freezer in preparation of departing for a short while, which I started working on yesterday and planned to continue working on today. So, having the dryer vent “fixed” became number two on the “list.”
The simple dialing of “202” is really something that can spoil a person. It is a good thing. If your hot water tank breaks at ten o’clock at night – someone from maintenance comes right away – and by eleven o’clock you will have a new hot water tank [if that’s the problem]. If your air conditioning goes, no matter what time it is, someone is dispatched to your abode, pronto! An air conditioning “break” constitutes an “emergency” here in The Sandbox. Pretty much whatever the problem – but for having the phone / computer outlet changed in the bedroom [see earlier column…] is taken care of in short order.
Certainly, but for maybe some sort of assisted living retirement home, or hotel, there is no place you could live in the States that I know of where you can simply dial three numbers and have a problem resolved, in a relatively short amount of time, even if it does require twenty different men to show up. Did I mention that this service is “free?” Well, free in the sense that we don’t pay for it; it is part of “housing” and the “company” takes care of it. Even when The Boy went through the sliding screen door, folded it in half, and completely tore the screen out of the frame, it cost us nothing to repair. Sure it cost something – the help that comes to fix the problem has to [hopefully] be paid, the cost of a new frame for the slider and screening, but we were not personally charged a penny. It is all good.
There was a situation with “big bugs,” really, really “big bugs,” that required several phone calls – somewhere close to twenty different repairmen, engineers, supervisors, metal workers, exterminators, glass fitters, photographers and whoever else, shortly after we first moved in, and took about a week to resolve. So, but for this one exception, calling the simple three digit number for maintenance has been great, and even this was taken care of, it just took longer than the usual customary “right away” timeframe…
I walked downstairs one morning into the kitchen and saw this “shadow” on the wall. I turned to see what it was and it was and screamed! It was a roach the size of a mouse – maybe even bigger! I am not kidding. [I’ve lived in Florida, I’ve seen what they call “palmetto bugs” which are actually roaches on steroids, but this roach was mutant!] I didn’t even want to kill it because of the noise I knew it would make – the little creature screaming in pain and agony, and then the “crunching” of its bones and body – but did end up grabbing one of my husband’s sneakers and attacking it. Yes, of course I felt bad – it was akin to killing a small animal – I probably could have named it and wouldn’t have had the get The Boy a sister this past February – but for the fact that there is not enough room in this townhouse for THAT bug and me.
When my husband finally got up later that morning, he asked what his sneaker was doing in the middle of the floor – he was sure I was going to say, “Hey, you left your shoes out – The Boy didn’t know it wasn’t a chew toy – and that’s why your sneaker is there.” I am incredibly tolerant of this type of thing – and there are no bad “kids” in this regard. My philosophy, with regard to “kids” is that if you want to make absolutely sure something you want or need isn’t going to be chewed, you need to take care of it or you are at fault. Of course, The Boy has never, ever chewed a sneaker – or any shoe – but I wouldn’t have blamed him if the sneakers did end up getting chewed when they weren’t in the closet or on a pair of feet where they belong. I explained to my husband that I put it there – the sneaker – and that he would have to clean up the mess – and he says, after sipping his coffee, “What mess?” To which I respond, “The mess of mangled bug blood and guts underneath your sneaker.” He’s a good man, my husband, and dutifully cleaned it up. [A really, really good man would have gotten out of bed when his wife screamed at the sight of the “critter” on the kitchen floor and come running down to save the “damsel in distress,” properly eliminating the scary little monster!] End of story…
Wrong. A few days later the dead bug’s big brother was in the kitchen, sitting on the floor, just waiting for me… There was no way I was going to be able to kill this one. First of all, my husband’s sneakers were no where in sight – I wasn’t stepping on it with only my flip-flops on – no way! – and there was NOTHING else readily at hand with which to maim this giant mutant cock roach, so he was able to escape to freedom without losing his life. I did, however, immediately call “202” and tell them that I needed an exterminator. The “interior” exterminator appeared a short time later. I told him about the “bug.” He probably didn’t have a clue what I was telling him, but he was able to spray the house and tell me that I needed to call “202” again and tell them that I need “outdoor” pest control, as there was a hole in one of our sliding glass doors that someone must have drilled for some reason and that is where he [the “interior” exterminator] thought the bugs must be coming in from.
Okay, fine. I called “202” and told them that I needed “outdoor pest control.” The next morning the man for “outdoor” pest control appeared and he sprayed outside. Afterward he pointed out the “hole” [it was more like a double-wide garage door for mutant cock roaches!] and patiently explained to me that unless I got the hole in the door fixed that I was not going to solve my problem. So I called “202” again, and after explaining what I had been told by the “interior” exterminator and the “outdoor” pest control men, finally got to speak to a “supervisor” that could help me. The supervisor made an appointment to come and see the problem. It only took him about three seconds to determine that there was in fact a problem, and one he did not have a simple solution for. [I suggested a new sliding door, but that, apparently was a far too simple solution and NOT the way things are done here.] This is when the various departments of men started showing up on a daily basis. First there was the glass guy – he had no suggestions to take care of this – he wanted “construction” to come – they did – then they sent some sort of engineer to look at the door – who, again, readily agreed that I had a problem but offered no solution. Another engineer – or door planner – or glass architect – whoever – came a short while later and took pictures. That afternoon someone else – metal worker of some sort – showed up to take measurements – he had two workers in tow with him. This went on for a week. However, finally a piece was designed to fit over the hole that would block these “visitors” from coming in without an invitation. [It sounds much more simple than it actually was, and but for drawing a diagram of the door – and showing where the “piece” was missing, just go along with a “hole that someone drilled.”] Truly there were no less than about twenty different repairmen, representing the full gamut of building professions – but for plumbing – all coming to simply fix a “hole in the door.” Yes, my “simple” suggestion of taking a sliding glass door off an empty unit for here – putting the door with the hole in it on an empty unit – doesn’t actually “solve” the problem, but it would have easily “solved” my problem.
Back to today… I get a maintenance “appointment” for 2:30 this afternoon. At 1P, the “appliance” man calls and says he is outside, can he look at my freezer now. Sure, come on in… I have to crate the “kids.” He’s petrified of them. Okay. Everyone is, not a big deal. So I round up the “kids.” The Boy happily trots into his crate – he is soooo good about this – The Baby, on the other hand, is still small enough to be incredibly nimble and limber that crating her requires quite a struggle on her part and my part – to do this – and it all has to be done very quickly – get her in it, get the door closed and get it latched – she HATES her crate – just HATES it! Poor little Girl… The appliance guy opens the freezer, sees the problem and says, “not good – cannot be fixed.” Okay, fine. Not my problem. The refrigerator comes with the house, and obviously I need one – a refrigerator. He calls his supervisor and explains that the freezer door cannot be repaired and that the entire unit needs to be replaced. This is now on order and it will be delivered within the next day or two. Great. List is already looking shorter, with only six million three thousand and ten “things to do” left on it…
At about 2:15 a “construction” crew from the Maintenance Department shows up. Yes, four men and a supervisor – all to fix my dryer vent. I dutifully send The Boy off to his crate, and chase, catch and crate The Baby. The construction “crew” comes in and we all crowd into the laundry closet – which of course is hot, because the hose isn’t connected to the vent properly and is blowing hot air out into the kitchen – so that I can explain the problem and tell the supervisor that no matter what we do – twisty-tie-thingy’s, duct tape, wire, super glue – nothing is keeping the hose connected to the vent that goes outside because the hose is so much bigger than the pipe we’re connecting it to. So with the six of us crowded into this little closet area, the “supervisor” pulls the dryer out and says, “The hose is not tight.” [No shit, Sherlock! Are you sure that’s the problem? Guess this is HOW you became the supervisor!] And, right in front of me, he proceeds to take the giant twisty-tie-thingy off the hose that is connected to the back of the dryer and attaches the hose to the floor vent with it, which NOW means that the hose is going to fall off the dryer! He moves the dryer back into place. I am trying to remain calm and not hurt him – explaining that I could have done that – but that this isn’t fixing the problem that as soon as I turn the dryer on the hose is going to fall off the back of the dryer and won’t be fixed. “Yes, madam. All fixed.” No [YOU IDIOT] it is not fixed! Now you’ve made it worse! “Oh, no, Madam. It is tight. All fixed.” As the supervisor and his entourage trot out, I am still rambling on that this has not taken care of the problem, that I need a new hose – one that FITS – and that I am just going to be calling them back, and what about the back of the dryer… and they have left and the door has shut.
I uncrate the “kids,” The Baby is going nuts, she’s been “locked in her prison cell” for all of five minutes, for the second time today! She is crying, barking, as if to say, “What have I done? Is there ANYTHING I have EVER done that could possibly justify my deserving such cruel and unusual punishment!?! I didn’t mean to chew the fig tree!!!” The Boy is just so mellow he could care less one way or another. I turn the dryer on. Two seconds later it is blowing hot air directly on me. I go to grab my duct tape to fix the back of the dryer myself. Incredibly, the gang that has just left has walked off with MY duct tape! I am starting to feel myself lose it… My temper. It isn’t going to take much… I call “202.” Now, not only do I have to report that the “construction” [yes, I am not kidding – CONSTRUCTION] crew that has just left after supposedly fixing my dryer not only did not fix my dryer, but made it worse, and they took my duct tape. I have a conversation with a man that goes something like this:
Me: Yes, I called to have my dryer fixed. They have come and gone, but now my dryer is worse than it was before they came, and I can’t fix it myself because they took my duct tape.
Man: Yes, you called on freezer. It will be replaced.
Me: Yes, yes, I did call on the freezer. This man has come and gone, I have a “ticket” for another refrigerator to be delivered in the next day or so. But my dryer is not fixed.
Man: Your refrigerator is broken?
Me: NOOOOO! My refrigerator is fine. This is all set. My dryer is broken.
Man: Oh, yes, we will send somebody.
Me: No. You are NOT understanding me. Somebody JUST left – five minutes ago – they fixed my dryer but made it worse and took my duct tape.
Man: Company dryer, Ma’am?
Me: No, my dryer.
Man: Oh, not our problem, Ma’am.
Me: Yes, yes, this IS YOUR PROBLEM! My dryer works fine. The vent is the problem. And I want my duct tape back.
Man: Something is missing, Madam?
Me: Yes, my duct tape is missing.
Man: I will call security.
Me: No! I don’t need you to call security over a missing half-roll of duct tape. I just want my dryer fixed. And if I had my duct tape I could fix it myself.
Man: Oh, yes, Ma’am. You need to call “residential,” this is appliances.
Me: Well, what number do I call for residential?
Man: Call 202, Madam.
Me: I did DIAL 202 – that’s how I got you!
Man: Yes, call 202.
This turned into a “shouting” match. Well one of us was shouting – and it wasn’t the guy on the other end of the phone. Ever notice how when someone doesn’t understand you – and you don’t understand them – raising your voice seems like the appropriate way to make them understand? Regardless, the “Man” won that round. I called “202,” again, and asked to speak to a residential manager. And, just who do you think answered the phone when I called “202?” Yep, the “Man.” And if it wasn’t the “Man,” then whoever it was sounded exactly LIKE him!
Man: Yes, Madam. You will get a call back. He is out of the office until four o’clock.”
Me: No. No, I do NOT want a call back. I want to speak to someone, right now! Someone who I can understand and someone who can understand me.
Man: Yes, you will get a call back.
...click. HE HUNG UP THE PHONE ON ME!
I am incensed! About close to beyond controlling, at this point. If I knew where it was, exactly, that “202” was physically located, I would have been on my way.
I called “202” again, and some young lady with a very demure voice – a whisper, almost – answered. I explained – in that ranting, raving way only an incensed lunatic can – that I needed to speak to someone in charge, right now. Fortunately this young woman did understand the urgency of the call – and I found myself speaking to a man who identified himself with an Arabic accent in PERFECT, FLAWLESS English – and I explained the problem. I think he, too, could tell that there was a problem at this point and that probably my dryer vent was not “it,” or the freezer door… He did ask me for my number and house address and said he would be calling me back within five minutes, he just wanted to see who it was that had shown up – not fixed the problem – made it worse – and to top it off, had walked off with my duct tape.
I did get a call back, within about two minutes, and this man asked me if he could come and see the problem. Yes, do, by all means…
Five minutes later, the door bell rings – again – I round up the “kids,” back to those crates… This man – who I now know is the Quality Assurance Manager – wants to fix my problem. He has someone with him. The two of them look at the dryer, and the other man – not the “Manager” – tells me that the hose is too big. [NO! You’ve got to be kidding, right?!?] The Manager makes two quick phone calls – speaking only Arabic [and this is why I am so bound and determined to learn this language so that when someone is talking to someone else – if they are talking ABOUT me – in Arabic – I’ll know whether or not they are saying, “Yeah, Mohammed, here’s the situation – we need a roll of duct tape right away to cover this bitch’s mouth – and someone to fix her dryer – she is about crazy! There is steam coming out of every orifice in her head – and we are afraid she could be a threat to the community if we don’t fix this, right now. Yeah, yeah. Security should probably be on high alert. We’ve got a classic nut case on our hands at 456 Flower Circle.”] Mr. Manager hangs up the phone and explains that someone is on the way to deliver a roll of duct tape to me [although, really, I could care less about the duct tape – which is NOT the issue – but for the fact that now I can’t fix my own damn dryer without it – and no, I don’t think it was “stolen” but merely that one of the members of the five-man construction team who was there earlier probably walked off with it not realizing that it was mine to begin with], and another man is on the way with a new dryer vent hose and the problem will be taken care of today…
So, we have “freezer guy," then “Supervisor and his four-man construction team,” the “Quality Assurance Manager,” and – who knows who it was with him – we were never properly introduced – probably just some “desk jockey” along to be a witness after realizing that there was a volatile situation to defuse over a dryer vent and half a roll of duct tape… That’s eight men visiting, in three separate “door bell rings / time to be crated” instances.
The door bell rang just moments later. There are three men standing there. The Boy takes off around the corner and dutifully goes into his own crate. He is such a good boy… And I think he realizes too that “Mom” is not having a good day, best to get to the crate and be safe. The Baby, well, she’s still young. She doesn’t quite realize that it is not a “good day” here at 456 Flower Circle, regardless of the fact that she’s now been imprisoned three times. Well, this was it for her, too. As I was struggling to get her in her crate – she actually BIT me and drew blood!!! This is a very, very first, ever, and no, it wasn’t a “real” bite, well, she didn’t take a chunk out of my finger, but she didn’t want me to have the chance to “latch” the crate and she bit me! And drew blood – kind of like a pin prick would, but the point… I know she hates the crate, but this behavior is GOING to stop! We’ll work on “crate desensitizing” starting tomorrow – which of course, means that my list once again has one more item to be added to it… Two steps forward, one step back.
These men are here to fix my dryer. All three of them? [Hey, the “construction crew was four and a Supervisor.] No. Only two. One of them is carrying a new roll of duct tape.
I tried last night to do a post on double standards – rape of the maid a week or so ago – and three young men, who shall remain nameless and faceless for taking pictures on their camera phones of women. I wanted the “photos” and scanned them in from the papers, but couldn’t get them to download after about two and a half hours. Then, tried it again this morning – spent another hour or so and still couldn’t get them to go… Decided my list of things to do was much too long to be playing with the computer and posting scanned copies of photos. Instead, wanted to let you know what happened with my “house assistant” this past Wednesday when I sent him to town… I’ll try to fill you in on that tomorrow or Monday. I’ve just had too much, already, today, with the freezer door, the “major” dryer vent fix and the disappearing duct tape. Time for a cup of tea – something stronger, perhaps, and to try to unwind … Ahh, yes, life in The Sandbox will, no doubt, provide plenty of fodder for blogging…