This morning I had to take a cold shower, and sadly, it wasn't because I needed to douse the flames of passion in order to get to work on time. It was because, off and on for three days now, the new boiler in my apartment building has been malfunctioning.
It first happened on Sunday, when my parents were visiting. Of course. After a "reset," I had nice steamy water that evening and Monday ... until 7:30 this morning, when I nearly bruised my ribs gasping for air while enduring an icy deluge.
On the plus side, it made for a VERY quick shower. And I was VERY awake when it was over. Pissed off, and clean, but awake.
So I called the maintenance line to report the problem as I waited, still shivering somewhat, for my bus. I gave my information and explained the situation, and then the woman asked, "Is this an emergency?"
I wasn't entirely sure how to respond, because emergencies can be relative. Personally, I would categorize an emergency as a matter of life and death. Or, in the case of apartment problems, as something that would cause irreparable harm to either me or the property itself.
For instance, if I woke to find my freezer leaking all over my kitchen (which has happened) that's an emergency. If my garbage disposal broke and backed up my sink and flooded all the cabinets (which has also happened) that's an emergency. If there's a large bubble of water building up beneath the ceiling in my bathroom and threatening to burst at any moment (been there, done that) that's an emergency.
All these things need to be dealt with ASAP. But no hot water? I wouldn't necessarily lump it into the same category as a burnt out light bulb or a drippy faucet, but it does seem essential. So, to be reasonable, I replied, "Well, if you could fix it sometime today, that would be good." Because I didn't need it immediately, although I worry that bathing will be a crapshoot for the next few days.
But really, should the lady on the other end of the phone have had to ASK whether this issue should be a priority? I would hope that anyone manning that maintenance line would have a list, or some kind of quick reference tool, that ranks problems in order of importance. A Cliffs Notes of Apartment Disasters, if you will. At the top would be "no heat or water," and at the bottom would be "freakishly large spider."
You know what wouldn't be on that list? Ghosts. There is just no readily available help for that, other than dialing your nearest old and young priests. This is bad news for a friend of mine who thinks she's being haunted. Nobody's going to come out to her place sometime between 9:00 and 3:00 to tinker around with the spiritual balance in her home. So until renter's insurance includes a clause for paranormal activity, she's stuck periodically waking to find ethereal amorphous blobs hovering over her bed.
Now THAT's an emergency.