Let’s Update: Getting through the gross stuff

Ellen Curtis
Ellen Curtis

It’s been a little while since I posted. I’ve never been *awesome* at making sure to update this thing regularly, but I had been putting in a good effort over the summer. Then the sewer-pocolypse happened.

We had a little problem back in June (and by little, I mean unholy-disgusting-nightmare size) where our bathroom decided it wanted to keep all the waste from the toilet in the upstairs apartment. Not cool, bathroom.

It was a trial to get cleaned up, and along the way we discovered a few things: the guys upstairs are nuts and were using paper towel as toilet paper, the main line to the street needed to be replaced asap (a bill of up to $15,000), the repair wouldn’t last very long, and there were several warning signs that should have alerted our landlord to the problem before it became so big (the toilet leaking water around the base, a leak in our ceiling caused by a pipe from the bathroom upstairs, a mini episode similar to this one that had resolved itself when enough pressure built up behind the clog). Basically, our landlord failing to follow up to the complaints we gave about our living conditions were unresolved (the holes in the ceiling for over 6 months) and this lead to a bigger problem that resulted in us losing a day’s pay while we had to wait with the plumber and a loss of ~$100 in cleaning supplies and towels from the crap-splosion. Oh, and no offer to clean up the mess either. That was left for us to do (note to tenants: not your problem, and let your landlord know that).

Fast forward 3 1/2 weeks. We were on 2 square rations for toilet paper. We were making sure nothing went down the drain that didn’t need to whatsoever. We were just biding our time until our landlords got the funds together for the repairs… or so we thought.

Toward the end of July, Matt and I had decided we were going to do some upgrading of our own. We had permission to paint, so we dropped a fair deal of money on paint and plaster for the bedroom, moving all the furniture into the living room and plastering the walls. It was Thursday, and I was set to paint on Monday. Matt and I left for work for 8:00 in the morning. It wasn’t until 10:00 at night I came home, Matt having gone to a movie with friends. I had gotten takeout on my way home, and went to the bathroom to wash my hands before eating. I put my foot through the door just as I was flicking on the light. Something felt squishy. Then the smell hit me.

The tub and toilet were full, and there was water on the floor. I frantically dialled Matt’s number, knowing the movie didn’t start until almost 11:00. He already had his phone off. Cursing on the situation, I called our landlords. No answer. By definition, this situation constitutes emergency repairs in the tenants act, so how come I can’t reach my landlords in an emergency situation?

Their son lived upstairs, so I booted her up through the laundry room and knocked on their door, only to find out the whole clan was gone to their cabin for the weekend. GREAT. The guys were at least sympathetic though, promising not to use any water until it was resolved, as we learned last time that ANY water going down the tap just makes the situation worse. Still, there were five of them and they are not easily controlled.  A slip up was bound to happen, and did.

Then I got a text from my friends saying they had gone to the hospital and were about to have their baby. I was already running a little high on emotion at this point, so this sent me over the top for a few minutes, until I managed to calm myself down enough to go back and survey the situation. Again, the smell was so bad it almost knocked me out. Trying to fix anything was out of the question.

Finally, Matt got home and it was decided that I wasn’t staying in the apartment for the night. It was his apartment long before I moved in, so anything that goes wrong has traditionally been his responsibility to take care of. I went to Mum’s, showered until I felt like all the yuckiness had been burned off, and then went to sleep for a few hours. Morning rolled around and I went back over.

Upon getting back, I discovered the situation had worsened. Matt had managed to get ahold of the landlords, and rather then sending a plumber over, they yelled at him and told him to wait until morning. The plumber we eventually got thought this was ludicrous, as their company offers emergency 24 hour repairs, and ours was the worst case he had seen in 15 years of plumbing. THE WORST CASE. NOT EXAGGERATING.

Anyway, we waited and waited, both of us ending up losing a days pay over this ($200 total after tax). I hadn’t gone in because I lost so much sleep, Matt didn’t because he needed to be there for the plumber. Around noon we started wondering why a plumber hadn’t shown up yet and called the landlords to get an eta, only to find out that they hadn’t sent a plumber yet.

Finally, one showed up and I left again. The smell was enough to make me gag and I wasn’t much use moving stuff out of the way due to a back injury. Then Matt sent me a picture of our formerly blue bathroom floor. It was completely brown.

I returned home later that evening to find that Matt and the landlord’s son had cleaned the apartment. The room still smelled like poop, and I felt a little squirmy just putting my feet on the floor. Matt also informed me of a couple choice things the landlord had said to him over the phone. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say it involved a very stupid man trying to shift the responsibility off onto anyone other than himself and a plumber having to tell him what was what. Awkward…

Needless to say, I was pretty peeved with the situation. It was readily apparent at this point that there had been no attempt to save money and fix the pipes, no attempt to repair our ceiling, and no attempt by our landlords to be responsible for their property. Matt, who absolutely loathes change, was ready to move. Not motivated enough to look for apartments himself, but motivated enough to comply when I set up some viewings for us. Motivated enough not to argue moving to the next city over and getting the hell out of Shitsville.

So we moved, and didn’t take any time off to do it. Everything got moved to our new apartment and we got settled in slowly, putting our new home in order on days off. And when we weren’t moving and re-arranging and getting settled, we still had Engen work on top of full-time jobs. The second Infinity novel, Tourniquet Reprisal is done the second round of content edits, and we are just cluing up the last round of edits now before sending it to the printers. It’s exciting, to say the least.

Moving has also meant we’re closer to friends now, so a lot of our free time has been spent up the road with a two year old climbing on top of me and inadvertently learning the songs from Mickey Mouse Club House and Special Agent Oso…

So that’s basically my explanation for not being on here. I haven’t really stopped lately. Today marks the midway mark in my week of holidays, then it’s back to university (eek!). This has been my first official breather. Let’s hope there’s another before too long!

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