I spent my Boxing Day in the dark. Literally. Here’s the deal:
My apartment is a shithole. Oh it looks nice enough and I try to keep it fairly clean. But, there’s the spot under the kitchen faucet that’s completely rotted, the inexplicable flaking paint in the bathroom and the places where the floor is separating from the joists that just scream “shithole apartment”. Two other features of my place that attest to its overall shittiness are the grand total of two three-pronged plugs and the fact that, in winter, it rarely gets warmer than 15 degrees.
It’s those last two that played key roles in my going without electricity for more than 24 hours. See, my parents were staying with me over Christmas (note the “were”; they’re still in the city, but no longer staying with me). They, however, did not appreciate the less than cozy temperature of my place. My mother, for example, never removed her coat except to sleep. Or her gloves. Or her hat and boots. She basically wore inside my apartement the exact same clothing she wore to go out in sub-zero weather. My apartment is cold, but it’s still 60 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s “wrap yourself in a blanket” cold, not “wear every stitch of clothing you have cold” even for a Windsorite. Still, in order to make her feel better, I pulled out my space heater and turned it on full blast beside her.
And there, dear Reader, is where I made my grave error. For, unbeknownst to me, every outlet in my entire apartment is on the same circuit. Thus, when the dishwasher in the kitchen kicked on 10 minutes later, the overloaded circuit blew and we were plunged into mid-day darkness.
This situation would not have been an issue had any of the following been true:
- It was not a holiday and the people who own the business downstairs were in the shop.
- My landlady had, like landladies usually have, keys to the business downstairs.
- The individuals who own the business downstairs were accessible by phone.
- The fusebox was in my apartment and not in the basement of the business downstairs.
Alas, all four scenarios were false. Despite a day of phoning, waiting patiently and quietly panicking, I got no satisfaction and remained without power into the night.
Now, I’d like to say that the lack of electricity brought the best out of my parents and me. I’d like to tell you all about the board games we played or the deep meaningful talk we had. At the least, I’d like to be able to say that we did this or saw that. But, alas, I’m afraid not. The evening was passed with chat about a great many topics of little import. While my parents and I do share a tendency to vent our spleens (I get it honestly), there was little in the way of good, old-fashioned argument.
In the end, all worked out. It looked as though I would remain without electricity well into the next day when my dad found me in the kitchen to tell me that, of a sudden, heat was pouring out of the register in the living room. As my latest theory is that the store below plays some role in the amount of heat I get in my apartment, I rightly jumped to the conclusion that my downstairs neighbours were in. Once introductions had been made (for I have not yet actually met anyone down there, despite the frequent “hellos” we share) and my situation explained, I was in their basement and fixing the fuse with great alacrity.
Does this story have a moral or even just a cautionary note. I don’t think so. Like much of the rest of my holiday, the day described above was just one in a string of minor annoyances that, ultimately, have amounted to very little. If any great truth has been revealed here, it is likely this: Be careful where you plug in your space heater.