When I got to work last Monday, Presidents’ Day, I found my parking garage closed, ditto the one in my own building, ditto the subterranean one I used briefly last year. I locked my bike to a street sign in front of my building so I could go in and let my boss know I’d have to head back home to work, but just then another cyclist turned up and we learned from the security guard that she could buzz us into our own garage. Whew. Then she had to do some special procedure in the elevator to allow me to get to my floor, and she or another guard had to do that for every single person who was working in the building that day, so what should have been an easy, quiet day for them was the opposite, and they were obviously disgruntled, as evidenced by the fact that when I joked, “This is all Abraham Lincoln’s fault,” Olga said, “No, this is all [your company’s] fault.”
I was trying to think why I didn’t bump into this problem last year—was I perchance working from home? Oh, yes, of course I was—for about two months, from February 11 until sometime in April, weeks after Carlos died and I felt able to return to the office, where I found my cube colorfully decorated and a nice sign welcoming me back.
I went to the hardware store last Monday with a long list of items: fumes coming into my apartment, weirdly flushing toilet, old glue stains on the kitchen floor, uncaulking and caulking to be done, start/stop showerhead needed. I have a showerhead that you can turn off and on while the water is flowing, but when you open the valve again, the water might be the same carefully adjusted temperature as before, or freezing cold, or boiling hot, so I don’t use it. I’ll probably need something like this soon, in the California drought. The hardware store didn’t have a good choice, but I got lots of other excellent advice and bought some supplies.
My most pressing problem was a plumbing situation with my bathroom sink wherein water had started to come out of a hole in the drainpipe. For this and some of the other items, one might normally just call one’s landlady, but since my rent is one quarter to one third of market rate and my landlady is older and ailing and might not need that much of a nudge just to sell the whole building, I’m motivated to do what I can myself.
I was hoping to just put a cap over the hole. There’s a little bit of pipe sticking out and it’s threaded, but there was no such cap at the hardware store. The hardware store fellow suggested a thick rubber dam and a metal clamp, but I wasn’t sure there was enough pipe sticking out to attach a clamp to, so I left the store with a rubber stopper.
At home, I discovered the stopper wouldn’t go in far enough to plug the hole; it bumped into some repulsive slime-covered infrastructure in there. So I cut the stopper in half, increasing the diameter of the smaller end—it’s tapered—and was able to wedge it in there satisfactorily. Then I unfurled half a roll of my new X-Treme Tape, which bonds to itself, and am hoping the mummified rubber plug will do the trick for the rest of my tenure here.
As for my blackening bathtub caulk, I talked to Tom about paying him to remove and replace it, $20 an hour. For one thing, I’m worried about the fumes involved, and Tom said he’d be happy to do this project. But then I pictured what those hours might actually be like and told him maybe I’ll take a crack at it myself.
“You mean you’d be anal about every little thing?”, he asked in a friendly tone.
“I’d use my vast intelligence to observe carefully and ensure that everything was done correctly, if that’s what you’re trying to say.”