Becky Says...


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Maintenance and Me

Late yesterday I discovered that the central air conditioning unit in my apartment has some problem with its discharge tube, and the condensate is not going outside, but dripping onto the floor of my utility closet. I'm glad I found out about it before the puddle had had time to grow to damage-causing proportions.

So I called the maintenance people, who will be here "soon." Things like this are dealt with on a first-come, first-served basis, and that's fine. I told them there was not a hurry, since the unit is otherwise working just fine and the amount dripping can be dealt with by a couple of judiciously-placed towels.

This all means I've been on alert all day. I woke up very early, and got dressed, just in case they were running early. Every time I've heard people close to my front door, I've figured this was the time. I finally went back to sleep, knowing they'd wake me if they knocked.

Now it's after hours, and I'm sure they won't be here before tomorrow since the problem isn't an emergency.

But all of that has made me think of a time last year when a repair call went awry. I was still working part-time for a law firm, and had come home for lunch. Good thing I did. When I drove up, I saw my stove sitting on the front porch.

Since that's not where I had left it, I immediately knew maintenance had paid a visit, but I wasn't sure why. I thought perhaps all the stoves were being replaced---they had done a group-replace with refrigerators a few months earlier---and that somehow I hadn't received notice. But a quick glance confirmed that none of the other porches were adorned with old stoves.

When I came in, there was indeed a new stove. Unfortunately, all the things that had been in the older stove's storage drawer were strewn all over the kitchen.

I stood there looking at the mess for a couple of minutes, then called maintenance to find out what was going on. The woman who answered the phone said my stove had been replaced since I had called and said the older one wasn't working. When I told her I had not made any such call, she looked again---and realized the stove was meant for another apartment in my building. Someone had given the wrong instructions to the maintenance crew.

This had happened a couple of earlier times, but in both instances I had been home and able to redirect the crew. Apparently someone in the office had a really illegible handwriting, at least when it came to writing down something resembling my apartment number.

The woman was a bit confused as to what the next move should be, since the person in the other apartment was no doubt in need of the stove. So I told her what to do: page the crew, have them come remove "my" new stove and reinstall the old one, then take the new one to the apartment where it was needed.

And the next day, after spending way too much time dealing with the aftermath of stove moving, I called maintenance again. I had a very special request: that before anyone came to "fix" xomething in my apartment, they call back to verify that I had something broken. They agreed this was the best course, and I haven't had any bizarre replacements since.

But I do wonder if someone else also got a call about repairing an air conditioner.....

Text copyright 2000 Becky