Saturday, August 20, 2011
This morning Tyree almost slipped on a puddle of water on the floor. Since I had just taken a shower, he thought I was the one who had created the puddle - and I really wish it had been me. But no, it was a leak in the ceiling. A leak which, by the time we returned from lunch, had turned into several leaks drizzling down the wall and from the light fixture (!) in the bathroom. We knew something was very wrong - we just didn´t know how to fix it.
First, I told our next door neighbor, who is in the process of moving out. She invited me in to view the water stains on her ceiling from dripping water. It was awful, and not encouraging at all. She told me it was part of the reason why she was leaving after living there 5 years. She didn´t know our upstairs neighbor or what we should do. She was also really busy moving out - she was taking everything with her, the fridge, the ac units, even the kitchen sink.
We knocked on the door of the apartment above ours, but no one answered and there was a padlock on the outside of the door, indicating there was probably no one home. We could actually hear the water flowing from the other side of the door. So we knocked on the door of the apartment next door to the one above ours. That neighbor agreed that it was an urgent situation - I pointed out that his own apartment was in danger of being damaged too - but he didn´t move that urgently. He didn´t know his neighbor´s number or where he was or even the last time he had seen him. There is no owner of our building, no landlord present to fix things or even a slumlord to demonize. Everyone is on their own. Which would be fine if apartments weren´t connected to other apartments on all sides. The whole thing reminded me of that movie Dark Water. Creepy.
Well, mister neighbor didn´t know what to do. Other than break into the empty apartment ourselves, we realized we needed to turn off the water some other way. We had a vague idea that the little old lady on the second floor had been there a long time and might even have the missing neighbor´s phone number. She happened to be wearing a dress with an African pattern of buckets and facets. She did not know the missing neighbor, but she did know how to turn the water off. Every floor has a utility closet and mister neighbor (who should have thought of this first) had the key. We opened up the closet and Tyree turned the water off while I pressed my ear to the door. I could hear the water stop.
But who knows how long the water was flowing. Water is still dripping, but we hope the leaks won´t spread anywhere else. Meanwhile, no one has the missing neighbor´s number, so whenever he does come back, it will be to a wet surprise.
Which shows you it is good to know your neighbors. We know ours, but unfortunately they are moving out. At least we know how to shut off the water if this ever happens again.