I started to write this last week, but stopped when the fun seemed to have wound down. But no, it seems to be a continuing saga. So here goes.
It all started when I got home to see the fire trucks parked outside my house. “Please, not my house,” I prayed, as one does in such a situation.
Of course, it was. Firefighters crawling all over the place. They were on their way out, it seemed, and I was tired, and all seemed well so I ignored them and went to our apartment.
A while later the doorbell rang (ours is the only buzzer on the front porch, therefore the pleasure of greeting visitors almost invariably falls to me; it means I can keep close tabs on who orders pizza, who calls 911, etc).
The cute, young cop sheepishly asked if the fire dept had been; he was responding to the 911 call and was a bit late.
My confidence in local police response time grew and grew.
I told him the fire trucks had been and gone. At that point my new neighbours, two young women who had just moved into one of the basement flats, turned up.
Seemed they had placed the call, after (a) one of them had some weird unexplained hallucinogenic experience that she had thought was a ghost, (b) the other one had a long, deep nap in the middle of the day (unusual for her, she said), and © they smelled gas in their apartment.
Oh, so it’s all good, said the cop, and left.
Funnily enough it was the weekend they had really moved in, with parents in tow, painting and driving to Ikea and so on. So the presence of two sets of parents really made the near-poisioning and 911 call that much more entertaining.
A while later the doorbell rang again. Gas man this time. I showed him to the gassy area, he gawked and said “FUCK!!” not once but twice, and “The guy who installed this, I don’t know how he can sleep at night,” and, “You’re going to have to tell everyone in the building that there’s a carbon monoxide leak and that they might die.”
He then shut off our boiler, hot water heater and gas supply, and left.
Which wouldn’t have been such a huge problem if our landlords (who live in the unit above me) had not been away on holiday for ten days, without an apparent contact number. (In fact, of the two numbers I had for them, neither was even active - so even if they had been in town, I couldn’t have reached them except by knocking on their door. Haw! Haw! Haw!)
With neither shower, stove, nor cup of tea, I decided the best thing to do was to sleep on it.
Meanwhile, of the two girls who had moved into the basement, one moved straight out again. Seems her parents just weren’t ready to let their baby move into a carbon-monoxide-filled slumlord-run ‘fixer upper.’ Funny, that. Something about the red “DANGER” tags papering the basement apartment she was about to move into. So they just turned round the U-haul and took her back home.
Leaving the other girl, call her Jess, to deal with the fallout. I mean, not the fallout of suddenly having no roommate, instead of one, but the fallout of having to track down some kind of contact information to reach the landlords to have them switch the gas back on. So she ran around to all the tenants, called numbers, found them wrong, ran around again, basically spent 72 hours or so trying to solve this problem she had thrust upon her.
None of that shit for me, I just called the tenant helpline, who gave me the number of the city property inspectors and my city councillor (who takes a special interest in landlord issues). I called each and gave my address; each office seemed to know my house and seemed to be very happy that I called and thrilled to come round and help me; the inspector was ready to meet me there in ten minutes. Unluckily for me, and very luckily for the landlords, Jess was successful in her search for a contact number (an epic journey involving a dating service - but for another day, I think) and the landlord’s contractor arrived before an appointment with the inspector could be firmed up. Thus, through the dedication of 19-year-old Jess, the landlords were saved a major shitstorm.
Four days after it went off, and after a day of no water whatsoever (‘Who wants to go to Coffee Time to pee?’), the gas came back on. The good news is, our shower is better than ever ! All seemed well, we were happy, Jess remained unpoisoned, and turns out to be very awesome as well. (It was quite a bonding experience for us.) About her 19-year-old roommate’s decision to move back in with mommy, and screw commitments to roommates: “I think it’s about maturity.” She’s so wise.
And we lived happily ever after (minus a washing machine, because some piece of machinery was moved from it’s illegal and unsafe place in the apartment in question, to the place where the washer was).
Jess’s former rooommate gave two month’s notice to the landlords (she thought she could just get her first and last back, which a lawyer must have told her is not the case). We noticed another handwritten note in the landlord’s mailbox (there are 7 units in total: us, Jess, landlords, and four others who I don’t know well). The tenants are not happy. I know that Jess was ready to press for some reduced rent for, you know, nearly being poisoned and all, because suddenly she is roommate-less. And I’m pretty pissed off with them for a few other things so I thought this would give us some leverage for re-negotiation of the rent.
Then the landlords returned. I heard them talking to my neighbour and gingerly stuck my head out the door. ‘Your gas back on?’ they barked at me. ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘Well, I guess you needed something while we were on vacation … heh, heh …’ they didn’t even have the class to apologize, they seemed annoyed at the trouble they had been put to. Told me it had all been installed by a certified contractor. As I left I heard one of them exclaim ‘That was a brand new washing machine!’
Thought no more of it. It’s been a busy week.
Just stopped by Jess’s place: lights on, nobody home. Gave her cell a call to make sure she wasn’t lying, poisoned, in her gassy apartment. She was at work, but reported that the landlords had come in and yelled at her, YELLED, about how the gas company was just greedy and so on and this and that.
Now, mature as she is, she’s NINETEEN, and she’s put up with an awful lot of shit from a place she’d lived in for ten days. The landlords don’t realize she saved them from the city inspectors who were itching to get their hands on them (and most likely lay on a fat fine). She was not happy to have two strange men in her apartment, YELLING at her about something that was not only NOT her fault (ie smelling gas and calling 911), but THEIRS, and a pretty serious fault at that.
How dare they !!
At 8:30 I will speak to her again and get the rest of the scoop. But for now all I can do is consider my options. Tomorrow I will call my new friend at the city councillor’s office and ask for advice; I am more than ready to sic the inspectors on these assholes.
(I was prepared to believe that they were lazy, and stupid, but not assholes. Until the YELLING.)