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IT’S ENOUGH SLICES (Of A House)

, , , , , | Working | September 22, 2022

My radiator is leaking, so the plumber comes by to fix it. It’s a small fix, but he does need to turn the water off for a bit. As he’s doing that, he notices that our boiler is also leaking. He informs my housemate and me about it, but unfortunately, he is not allowed to fix it because we are under contract with the energy company that installed it; only they are allowed to do anything with it (for insurance, liability, warranty, etc. reasons).

The plumber fixes the radiator leak he was originally asked to fix and leaves the hot water off to prevent further leakage. He advises us to just call the energy company and tell them we have a leak and no hot water, and they’ll probably be able to send someone by today to fix it.

He leaves, and I call the energy company as advised. Thankfully, they’re already in the office. (Why, universe, can I only ever get appointments at too-early-to-think o’clock?) I explain the situation to [Employee #1].

Employee #1: “All right. What’s your zip code and house number?”

I give the requested information.

Employee #1: “Oh, I’m sorry, but that contract was cancelled several years ago.”

Now, it might be early, and I’m very much not a morning person, but I’m still sure that can’t be right because I vaguely recall helping my housemate arrange a visit from this very company to inspect that boiler not too long ago.

Me: “That can’t be right. Your company came by for an inspection not too long ago.”

Employee #1: “Well, the contract was cancelled in 2020.”

It’s now 2022. I’m thinking, “It can’t be that long ago, can it?” But my memory sucks, so it might have been.

I confess my confusion to [Employee #1], who curtly repeats that he can’t do anything for me and advises me to call my landlord and ask him what gives. I can’t think of anything else, either, so that’s what I do.

Or, that’s what I try to do. Have I mentioned that it is way too early? It’s too early for my landlord to be in the office, apparently. I decide to write him an email, instead, explaining what’s going on and asking him to call me back ASAP. While I’m writing the email, my housemate is stumbling around like a zombie, getting ready for work. Halfway through the email, the metaphorical lightbulb pops up above my head.

Me: *To my housemate* “I think I know what the problem is!”

Housemate: “Huh? What?”

Me: “Wrong address!”

Housemate: “Ohhh, yeaaah. F***!”

Please remember that both of us have been up for several hours already and normal business hours haven’t started yet, something which neither of us is used to, so I think my slow thinking speed and her lack of coherent speech can be forgiven.

Here’s the thing: our (rather old) house is a little weird. The ground floor is separate from the other floors. (I’ve heard that it used to be a bakery and was converted into an apartment.) So, at street level, there are two doors right next to each other. One door is for the ground floor and has the regular house number. The door next to it opens up to a staircase leading up to the upper two floors and has the house number with an addition next to it — think #14 and #14A right next to each other.

I live on the first floor, as does my other housemate, who is on holiday and missing out on all this fun. The housemate mentioned in this story has the attic all to herself.

However, that’s not the end of it. Some years ago, an eccentric employee of the city decided that, because both floors have a kitchen and bathroom, and because the attic has a door in front of the stairs leading up to it that can be locked, the attic is, in fact, a completely separate apartment in need of its own address. This is despite the fact that the attic has no access to the street itself; you can only get there through the first-floor rooms. But it happened anyway, so now the attic is technically #14B, though we tend to forget that since we still share things like a front door, washing machine, Internet, and so on.

So, back to our story. I think I’ve figured out what went wrong. When [Employee #1] asked for the house number, I gave him #14A without thinking because that’s where I live. BUT since the boiler is in the attic, it is TECHNICALLY located at #14B. As I said, it’s too early to think, but that would certainly explain things. I call back and explain to [Employee #2] what happened.

Me: “I’m really sorry; it’s my fault. I mixed up the house numbers.”

Employee #2: “That’s all right. It happens. What is the correct house number?”

Me: “It’s #14B.”

Employee #2: “Hmm, that’s odd. We have no records at all for that house number.”

Me: “You don’t?”

Now I’m thinking, “What is going on here? I thought I solved it!”

Employee #2: “No, sorry. We have contracts with #14 and #14A, but not #14B.”

Cue a record-scratch in my brain.

Me: “Wait, what? You do have a contract with #14A? Your colleague earlier told me it was cancelled two years ago.”

[Employee #2] sounds as surprised as I am.

Employee #2: “No? There’s no record of cancellation here. The last thing on file is an inspection of the boiler last February.”

I’ll admit, I’m angry, but right now, confusion is winning out, and regardless, it is NOT this woman’s fault that her colleague made a mistake… or whatever happened. So, there’s no belligerence on my part.

Me: “Would it be possible to have someone come look at it?”

Employee #2: “Yes, of course. When are you home?”

Me: “I’m home all day.”

Employee #2: “All right, then. I’ll arrange for one of our mechanics to come by today.”

Me: “Thank you very much!”

Employee #2: “You’re welcome. Have a nice day.”

Me: “Likewise. Goodbye.”

The mechanic arrived about two hours later. My housemate had gone off to work but left the door open to allow us access. When I told my housemate about everything, both of us were left wondering, “What on Earth was up with [Employee #1]? Computer error or something else?”

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