I live in a wonderful old house, built approximately in 1930.
Everyone loves it, it is charming and rambling and sunny and welcoming. I adore it, every unique, Craftsman architectural detail. But holy mackerel, is it ever a lot of work. Eighty year old things just are constantly breaking, falling off, falling down or simply sagging. But I figure it just goes with owning an older home.
For example, about once a year I have to have roots snaked out of my sewer line. I feel as though it is a small place to pay for my gorgeous maple, but it is a pain.
In January I used a new plumbing company we’ll call the Incompetent Wankers. The Incompetent Wanker who did the job January 27 left a receipt stating he had pulled out “a lot of roots” (so articulate) and added the promising note “30 day warranty”.
I love a Wanker who can stand behind his work.
However they also charged twice as much as I had ever paid, so I decided not to use them again.
At any rate, four days ago water began to accumulate in my basement. What do I know about plumbing? I assumed my sump pump was broken. The water rose and rose. I called several plumbers who said it sounded like too big a job for them. My friend Peter came over to assess the situation. By now there was a foot of water and my boiler and hot water heater were out.
He found that the sewer pipe that had been snaked just three weeks earlier was completely, totally blocked. And, he added, it was absolutely because the job had not been done properly. He (a repairman) said he would do it, but I had paid them so much money and it was their responsibility, they really needed to come and fix everything.
I called the Incompetent Wankers and they, with ill grace, sent out someone to snake it out again. Sure enough, once that was done the water was gone over night, leaving God awful mess. But I was still without heat because there had been too much water for anyone to repair the boiler before.
I had hunkered down by my fireplace, just putting on log after log to keep warm. Barely warm. There was a blizzard roaring outside.
Friday morning, with the water gone, I called the Incompetent Wankers to come relight my boiler. They sent two guys who walked in my house with a major attitude and it was all downhill after that.
I was, as I always am, nice when they arrived. One of these guys had been the one snaking the pipe the night before and he had to wade through the foot of icy sewer water (although why a plumber answering a call to a flooded basement didn't have waders on I will never know). While he was down there I was standing at the top of the stairs wringing my hands in absolute agony for him. I offered him tea, towels, clean things to change into (which I didn't have but I would have crossed that bridge when I came to it). He knew I was a nice normal person and he acted like one too.
But once his fellow goon got started on Friday, he joined right in. You know, I think that was one of the most upsetting parts of the whole experience.
The other guy started by accusing me of neglecting my sewer system and stated the flood was my fault. He was actually yelling at me. Now I am 5’3” tall, I’m a widow who lives by myself and I have Multiple Sclerosis, so I walk with a cane or walker. I’m not a threatening person. This guy was so unbelievably rude I finally said to him “Don’t you dare speak to me like that.” His response? “Fuck you lady. You want us to fix your boiler then don’t you talk to ME like that.”
Remember I said it was all downhill after that? Well now it sped downhill faster than an Olympic skier.
“Get out you! Just get out. Your co-worker can do the work but I want you out of my house!”
He laughed in my face. “$199 to fix the furnace.” I said “Absolutely not, you people caused this damage and I am not paying you anything.” “Ok, we’re outta here.” He declared, punctuating his statement with “You crazy bitch.” (An aside: It has occurred to me that I should have kept my mouth shut, let them fix it and then just put a stop payment on the check and advise them why. But then I wouldn't have had the rest of this entertaining post!!)
By this time I actually had chest pain and was weeping. I was SO cold!!! They slammed the storm door as they left and I absolutely snapped. I raced (yes folks, raced, me who can barely walk; it is amazing what adrenaline can do) ahead of them in the snow wearing no coat and with nothing but slippers on my feet. Well, I had clothes on too. But there was no way I was going to let them go without fixing my boiler.
So…I planted myself in front of their truck and said, through hiccupping sobs, I wasn’t budging until my boiler was fixed.
Crazy bitch? They had no idea what a crazy bitch even was until they pushed me over the edge.
They called the owner on their phones. I called the owner on my phone. Now I have to interject these people have trucks with huge smiley faces on them. Their motto is “Same day service with a smile”. When I spoke with the owner I anticipated some level of customer service.
His response to me: he called me crazy too. And an ‘abnormal person’. OK, granted, I was sitting on the bumper of one of his trucks crying hysterically. I called my son and he raced over. He was conciliatory, trying to work things out, but they gave him the same attitude. They threatened to call the police. I offered to call for them. The owner on the phone, his voice dripping with venom, said “I am going to report you to the health department for unsafe living conditions [that they had caused]. With my connections I am going to fix it so you will be paying fines until you are 100 years old.” I was speechless.
I knew I couldn’t bear being cold for one more minute. I also knew I would not be able to find another plumber that day with the snowstorm. So I folded. I said “Whatever, I’ll pay, just fix my boiler.” But now they said I had to pay cash. And it would be $600. Six hundred dollars in cash. Which I didn’t have.
They had won. I got off the truck and leaned against my fence, crying in the snow. My son once again tried to reason with them, but the Incompetent Wankers took off, driving so fast they fishtailed as they rounded the corner.
My wonderful son put his arms around me and I just cried and cried. Because on top of everything, I was laid off on Thursday. This was all too much.
My phone rang at that point and it was my friend Peter again. I told him what had happened. He said he would be over in ten minutes and he would fix my boiler.
And he did. With a part the cost less than $50.
For a giggle, in honor of my son’s bravery and support:
And Now I’m Unemployed
I know that organizations are simply panting to hire 55 year old women with Multiple Sclerosis, so I’m sure I will be fine. I base that on the fact the last time I was laid off I was out of work for ten months and almost lost my house and my mind. I’m really looking forward to reliving that experience.
I am trying to not be negative. For example, I still have gas, so I can always stick my head in the oven. See, the power of positive thinking. Massive quantities of vodka and xanax are also extremely comforting.
My friends have rallied around me in a way that truly humbles me. They are absolutely holding me up at a time I cannot do so myself. Through these nightmarish few days my phone has not stopped ringing with offers of moral support and places to stay until I had heat again. My Facebook page has been inundated with messages of encouragement and prayers. My friend Jane (The Witty Ways of A Wayward Wife) actually called me from England to see if I was alright.
I can only ask God to bless them all for their compassion and love.
But I have to warn them not to get too close. I think God hates me and I don’t want them to catch any of His wrath.