Saturday, January 17, 2009

Lessons from the Negatives

Greetings from sunny Maine!

It actually is sunny; I'm not lying. However, in Maine winter, sun does not often equal warmth. This past week has been unbelievably cold here in Orono. The tv weather people are calling it Arctic Blast 2009. It's catchy. But also upsetting.

So, I've been dealing with the subzero temps like a champ. I've pulled out the YakTraks for the icy walk into campus and I've started backing into my parking spot so my windshield gets as much direct sunlight as possible before I get in the car in the morning. I've increased my layers and I have gloves stowed in each of my winter coats.

Alas, there are some things that I just can't prepare for. One thing I just cannot seem to handle: frozen water pipes.

Yesterday when I woke up, I noticed that the toilet water was extremely brown. Assuming digestive causes, I gave the toilet a quick flush and went to the sink to brush my teeth. No luck at the sink either... there was a quick spurt of water with what appeared to be coffee grounds in it, then nothing. I turned back to the toilet to see brown water rushing back into the toilet. Interesting.

After trying the kitchen sink, I was convinced that my roommate and I would be headed to campus even sooner than we planned. Our pipes were for sure frozen. Like a good renter, I called the landlord, left a message, and went to campus for the morning.

When my roommate and I got home around 1:30pm, we had water in all the familiar places. Success!! We both showered quite promptly.

Fast Forward a bit...

This morning I took advantage of the 4 day weekend by sleeping until 10:30am. Very nice. I strolled downstairs to find my roommate gone and hot water in the shower. So, I hopped in and showered happily while I thought about my plans for the day. As I was getting dressed upstairs in my room, I heard the singular pounding of the maintenance man on the front door. By the time I got myself (still wet) downstairs, the man was coming in and asking me if we had water.

"I think so..." I said with obviously wet hair.

"Did you call?" he queried.


"Yeah, we fixed it yesterday. Somebody called again."

At this point I'm just plain confused. And to be honest, a little bit ticked. If my roommate called, the least she could do was leave a note before she flew the coop.

The man asked if he could check the faucets and I of course stepped aside. As it turns out, I showered with residual water, because all of the pipes were frozen. Again. (By the way, my roommate didn't call and ditch, it must have been another tenant.)

About 4 hours and two broken pipes later, the last maintenance man left and we were able to brush our teeth at last.

Oh, and just to top it all off, I found out that the unheated basement - the cause of all our problems - is on our circuit. So, each time these fine gentlemen have to come out and use their heaters to thaw pipes for our building, my roommate and I foot the bill. For the entire house!

Basement Lights + Two heaters x 4 hours = A bill that should be picked up by the landlord or at least split evenly between all apartments involved.

Even though our temperatures are suppposed to be climbing in the next few days, we aren't going to see 33 degrees for a good while. I'll be talking to the responsible parties on Monday, because I have an inkling that this will not be the last pipe freeze this winter.

However, Maine winter is nothing if not educational, so I've come up with a list of things that I have learned so far. Some of these things I've learned by experience, but I'll let you guess which ones those are.

1. Our outside temps are cold enough to freeze flesh in ten minutes. I asked if that meant my flesh or a pork loin. I was told that "flesh" in this case refers to exposed skin. Gotcha.

2. When one freezes to death, the eyes go first causing blindness. I'm sure that's helpful.

3. My forehead is quite susceptible to cold. When I'm bundled up, it's the only thing that hurts a little because of the brisk wintery air. I guess I need to work on the bangs and hats.

4. Black ice is actually easy to spot in Maine because the road stuff makes the asphalt white through the winter months. Also, around here, it's just safe to assume that everything is iced over.

5. Bank thermometers register and broadcast negative temperatures. Who knew?

6. There is power steering fluid and it can freeze. I'm not sure if mine froze or my car just needed to warm up more, but I had some fun driving to campus one day. My roommate enjoyed my apparent struggle.

Okay, so six is a really odd number of learnings, but that will give you an idea of how I spend my days.

It looks like it's going to warm up a bit and snow tomorrow. I'm actually okay with that. Snow is not so bad. Frozen pipes are.


trresa said...

Thanks for sharing this story Amanda, it's great. Also, I would have never thought that Amanda would be the one explaining how to drive in such conditions--you go girl!!

jess said...

ha! i love it! that was so hilarious. sorry it's so cold. sucks major. ALSO, if you need me to use my good negotiation skills on your landlord for that frozen pipe bill then let me know. that is not right and i would fight that til the death. until i hear the word, i'll be studying up on similar cases and preparing an argument of my own for your specific case. love you, mamba!

Anita said...

Sheeewww Manda, if it wasn't so funny I'd feel real bad for you. About the bill, fight it girl. That is just wrong. Bring on up Jessica Hedrick, esquire to handle it for you:)