Monday, October 08, 2007

a view of life after the collapse

Last Sunday, I was taking a shower, and I slipped (and no, this is not one of those "I've fallen and I can't get up" stories). Nothing serious, but I fell against one of the walls to regain my balance. And although I didn't hit the wall particularly hard (I expended about as much force as when someone falls into a couch after a busy day), the wall collapsed around me.

This was pretty shocking, although it was not as shocking as it could be. Like most rental properties, my house isn't the best maintained place in the world. The bathroom has a tremendous moisture problem, and this has led to a never-ending battle against mold, rotting walls, and places in the (old) shower where the tile grout had worn away. The wall I hit had tremendous water damage, and the backing material was very damp...and this is why my bathroom fell around me...not just because I need to lose weight.

So, I called the landlord, and they quickly dispatched one of their handymen, who came out and plastic-coated the wall in question. He was a nice guy, nicer than I would've been they had called me away from my house on a Sunday afternoon when football was on to help some moron who broke his shower, and he told us that him and his boss, when out to our place for an earlier service call, had noticed the water damage. This made me feel good...because I had vague fears of the landlords trying to take the expenses out of our deposit when we moved.

Anyway, he also told us that they would decide if they were going to re-tile or replace the whole unit, and someone would be over on Monday to start working. Monday came and went. Tuesday came and went. Finally, on Wednesday, they called me up to tell me that a contractor would be over on Thursday.

I got off work and pulled into my place around five on Thursday, and there was a construction van still there. When I talked to the workers, they told me that not only did they have to replace the tub and install a new surround, when they ripped out the old tub, they found puddles of water in the crawlspace. Also, they had to re-frame half of the bathroom because all of the wood under the tub was rotting. So, although they had been working all day, there were still gaps around the new surround where we could see the studs and insulation.

Friday morning, we were not able to use the shower because of the exposed stuff, so I had to settle for spot-cleaning: pits, feet, crotch, and stumbling into the kitchen so I could shampoo in the kitchen sink. It sucked beyond belief, and I couldn't help but think of the Monty Python sketch "The Golden Age of Ballooning":

Moreover, I felt an awful lot like a frontiersman...and in the spirit, I thought about going out and brushing my teeth with a sassafras twig or something.

They came the next day to do the drywall...well, at least start it. It is a process, they tell me, that will probably take most of this upcoming week, because they have to do several shots at the wall joints, and they plan to replace the flooring as well.

The new shower? I hate it like hot death. It's about 3 inches more narrow, which means I have to stand sideways. Worse, however, is the new "low flow" shower head they've installed, which makes me realize that my life is everyday becoming more and more an episode of Seinfeld:

In the end, however, the main effect of all of this is to make me reevaluate my life. I have friends who've moved onto tenure-track jobs. I have friends who are buying their own house (while I, on the other hand, can't imagine even being able to finance a used Kia). I have friends who have children, families, who are true and bona-fide adults.

Where am I? Standing amongst broken tiles, collapsed walls, breathing grout dust, wondering what I did to deserve a rotting bathroom.

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