Monday, March 26, 2012

The Luxury of Running Hot Water

We have hot water. At last, at last. I can turn on the tap, and hot water comes out. At any time of the day or night. Whenever I want hot water, it's there. This is big news in our household. For the last four months, we have had no such option. When our hot water went out a few months ago, we called our landlord who sent over a repairman, Pasquale. After Pasquale left, we had hot water for approximately seven hours. Mind you, this was in the middle of winter, and our house is heated by radiators. We have on-demand water from the city, rather than a huge, hot water tank, and our "caldaia," (hot water heater) is located outside our home. In order to get hot water, we would put on coats/rain jackets/etc., go outside, perform a series of button pressings in no particular order, turn the thing on and off, wait, press some more buttons, then hear the heater fire up.

So after Pasquale's first, failed visit we did not call our landlord back immediately. Mainly we spent a week arguing...I mean, discussing...who was going to call our landlord back (a our household), then we went on vacation to Germany for 10 days, then another a week on the "Whose gonna call" discussion. Nathan's position is that I speak better Italian, and I'm the one with the home schedule that the workmen must work around. My position is that we currently live in a very patriarchal society, and while our landlord likes me very much, he wants to conduct business with the man of the house. Plus, my accent is difficult for him to understand, in both Italian and English. I can call him, say something, he tells me he doesn't understand, we go around in a circle for awhile before hanging up. Nathan will then call him right back and say the exact same thing. And voila. Understanding. It's enormously frustrating. One of us eventually called our landlord and Pasquale returned to get the hot water working again...for about six hours.

In January, as I was spending all my time on the sofa, our landlord sent one of his cousins who is a landscaper to take out some dead trees in yard, do some pruning, etc. While pruning around an old, abandoned tank on one of our terraces, one of the workmen cut a tube on this tank, possibly an old gas tank. This necessitated all sorts of other people called in to see if there might now be a greater problem, and the consensus was, no problem. I then noticed a bunch of water seeping down our garage wall and pooling all over the floor. I called the landscaper, our landlady who was here at the time, and the general handymen who are here often to the garage to see this. The ceiling was starting to bubble and crack as well. General consensus, no problem. So for the last four months, when I wanted to take a shower or wash dishes, there was a 20 minute dance performed with the caldaia. And heaven forbid we close up the house for the evening before showers and dishes, because once the house is closed up, we just don't feel like opening it all back up only to spend 20 minutes running in and out trying to get some hot water running.

Fast forward. Pasquale returns for about the sixth time to work on the caldaia, and I call a friend on the phone to translate what he's telling me. The problem is a water leak in the pipes, so the caldaia doesn't always have water to heat. I show Pasquale the garage, where the water in the garage is now causing the ceiling to actually fall in and some electrical box to start leaking brown spots. Pasquale also thinks this is a problem, so I try to get him to call our landlord and tell him. He doesn't want to. I can't believe that I'm now having the same argument...discussion...with Pasquale that I have with my own husband. I make the call. It goes as most of my phone calls go, and ends with my landlord saying, "I do not understand you. I'll call Pasquale." Back come the original workmen accompanied by our landlord and his cousin. Yes, there IS in fact a problem. The pipe that serves the caldaia is leaking. After ripping out the garage wall, they cannot access the leak and start eyeballing my front terrace and the tile inside my house, where the pipe comes up from the garage. I point out that if they rip into these places, and the leak isn't there, they'll next have to move onto my walls. I'd like to avoid ripping the house down in search of the leak. An hour passes with much discussion and phone calls on what they will do. They decide to run a new pipe instead. I think this is a stellar decision. My landlord then tells me that Pasquale will arrive in the afternoon to fix the hot water. I wait, Pasquale does not come. I call my landlord. He says Pasquale will come tomorrow. I wait, Pasquale does not come. This goes on for three days. I give up and decide I will never have hot water again, and I must accept this fate. And Pasquale comes. And WE HAVE HOT WATER! It's worked for two full days now. Two days of hot water. Life is good.


  1. Um, I'm not sure I want to live in Italy... :\

  2. Just practice over and over the phrase, "It's Italy," accompanied by a French style shoulder shrug.

  3. This made me laugh out loud! Only because it's you. If it were me I'd go MAD! lol Sherry