Saturday, January 28, 2006

Wrongly accused

On Monday afternoon, an irritated, unpleasant employee from the real estate agency downstairs complained to me about a serious water leak that came through their ceiling in the morning and that was causing damage to their office. She assumed the source of the problem was in my apartment. I think the cafe people downstairs clued her into my previous serious plumbing problem in the kitchen. She kept asking if I lived above their agency. I didn't think I did, so I said "no." She wasn't happy with my answer, but she marched off with a huff and a puff.

Around eight in the evening, in the middle of my opera rehearsal chez moi, the same woman and an equally disagreeable co-employee came to complain again. They just experienced a new leak and were quite convinced the problem was my shower room. They asked if I had used it in the last five minutes. I just told them the truth -- my daughter had washed her hands there in the sink half and hour earlier, surely not enough to cause an "inundation." They wanted to look at the "salle de bain" and there were no apparent leakage issues there. They were still convinced the problem was me. They asked for the gardienne's number, which I gave them willingly. (The gardienne or gardien cleans the halls, stairs, takes out the trash, and is the first person to go to if there's a problem with the apartment or the building.) After the women left, the gardienne came up to ask me not to use the shower room at all the next day to see if the problem could be isolated. She said a plumber would arrive but she didn't know when.

My guest and I went without showers the next day. I didn't know if I could bare being unwashed for an entire day. I was not surprised to not see the plumber at all. I called the gardienne to find out if in fact a plumber would be coming. She said she left a message with the head gardienne but had not heard yet. I left a message with the head gardienne expressing the urgency of the situation in my best, fluid, and fast(!) French. I was not going to go without a shower for a second day and have my guest under the same punishment. That evening, I was going out, and at least managed a hair wash in the kitchen sink.

We took our showers that night despite the possible consequences. At least we wouldn't be caught in the act in the morning if something disastrous happened downstairs.

At 8:30 am, I finally got a call from the head gardienne about the plumber having already come to examine the problem (not to my place, but the agency, I guess). Thank goodness the source of all this misery was not in my salle de bain, but in another apartment on the other side of my wall. But why couldn't I have been told earlier? As soon as this fact was made known? She probably didn't realize that I had been expecting the plumber, unhappily unbathed.

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