August 15 was Ferragosto, an Italian holiday that kicks off vacation time. Some families take the entire month of August for vacation, some take the week of Ferragosto or the rest of the month. But the actual day is marked, in these parts, with fireworks, closed businesses and trips to the beach. For those who cannot take a long holiday, then Ferragosto and the days following are their short holiday, so this year, the holiday days were Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Ferragosto is not the time to go to a market, try to eat at your favorite restaurant, go to the beach (unless you like traffic and crowds), or need a major repair. Naturally, we need a major repair.
Yesterday, Nathan went to work as usual. Later, I went down to the garage to leave for a doctor's appointment and found the garage door would only lift halfway. Our garage door is old, the motor is old, the whole thing acts up periodically, so I just kept opening and closing the door, giving it some pushes to help it along. Open, close, open, close - this went on for some time as in growing disbelief, I realized the door was actually broken, broken. Not just sort of broken. I am used to "sort of broken" with pretty much every aspect of our house - we have to turn the kitchen sink hot water on and off using the shut-off valve underneath the sink, the dryer works sometimes but not others and is on some sort of work schedule that only it knows, the A/C pipe that drains condensation water outside is clogged, so water spends all day spilling all over our back patio...you get the idea. But broken, broken is a real problem. Knowing I had about a five minute window left to now actually make my appointment on time, I called Nathan in a panic to have him tell me how to disengage the motor so I could hand lift the door. He refused to tell me, saying the door was far too heavy and I should not attempt it. He would come home from work to do it. At which point my tears started. With the garage door half open, I got into the car, started it so I could blast A/C and try to dry the rivers of sweat soaking my skin and clothing, and just sobbed and sobbed. Then I realized all the Ferragosto beach goers were back to parking on our street (after a parking ticket frenzy a few weeks ago), they could see into our garage as they wandered by with their towels and man purses, and it did not look good to have a running car in a garage with a woman slumped over the wheel. I did not take having a broken garage door well, mainly because I could see into the future, and the future looked like Ferragosto.
Nathan arrived, we realized the lifting cable had snapped on one side, and that meant he could not manually lift the door. With the lifting cable snapped, the counterweights that hold the door up have dropped. These counterweights are inaccessible behind the framing of the garage door. So we had one car out of the garage (thankfully) and one car stuck inside it. We can get by on one car easily. No problem. Except...we have nowhere to put that one car so that we can freely access it. Parking on our street is not an option since two friends came over earlier this week to go out to dinner, and in the hour and a half that we were one block away at our local pizzeria, they both had their windows smashed out. In addition, the police have been issuing parking tickets on our street, since technically, there is a no parking sign posted. Some friends who live up the street were able to house our car for one night, but our longer term option until the garage door is repaired is to park at some other friends' apartment complex (behind gates) two towns over from us. That will work fine, except let's say I go into labor in the middle of the night. The metro train by our house doesn't run after 9pm, so we have no way of getting to our car. And for daytime, Nathan will be getting rides to work, which means if I go into labor in the middle of the day, he will have no car, and I will have no car.
None of these options are workable at 38 weeks pregnant, so we spent all day calling our landlord. It's Ferragosto, so no answer. I decided to go to our Housing office on base in order to have them contact all numbers they have for our landlord. Our Housing office is staffed by Italians who get all the Italian holidays. It's Ferragosto, so Housing is closed. It finally occurred to me to drive to our landlord's hotel and see if anyone was around. And were they ever - the hotel is hopping for Ferragosto. All of Naples seemed to be at the hotel with one glaring exception - our landlord. I knew two people there staffing the place, but they did not grasp the urgency of my problem and did not seem inclined to provide me with any way to contact our landlord. The message, "I need access to my car for when I go into labor!" did not get across. The electrician who fixes a bunch of stuff at our house was there, so I explained the problem, and he came to take a look. This was the condensed version of our conversation:
Him: "You cannot open it manually. It's too heavy."
Me: Just staring at him, but thinking, "Mmmmm-hmmmmm. That's what I told you."
Him: "I cannot fix it because the problem is not electrical. Fabio needs to fix it. Fabio is on vacation in the South."
Me: "When does Fabio return."
And then I got the shoulder shrug. I knew it was coming and had been dreading it. "Maybe on Monday" was the very hesitant reply.
Me, pointing to our one car parked on the street: "I cannot park the car on the street [and explaining why]."
Him: Staring at me, then the garage door, then back at me.
Me: Staring at him, then the garage door, then back at him.
Note to self: Do not ever have a serious, but non-emergency, situation during Ferragosto. Also, do not go into labor before due date of September 3.