Friday, January 04, 2008

The Beauty of Ownership, or Why It's Not Always Easy to Love Thy Neighbor

No, not a pale Rothko imitation, but a slice of the ceiling where we had a water leak this morning...

Yes, there I was, sitting at my desk, wondering how much longer I could put off certain tasks on my everpresent to do list, and suddenly it started raining - which is not unusual for Paris, except that this rain was coming down inside the apartment. Needless to say, I leaped (leapt?) from my desk and sprung into action, grabbing towels and buckets to keep the water from soaking the wood floors, and wondering - amid growls and expletives - who I could blame for this infuriating interruption to my important day.

Immediately I singled out the owner of the apartments upstairs, not only because of his pretentious goatee and golfer's cap, but also because he's been a source of constant irritation since before Christmas, when he started renovating his apartment at all hours of the day and night. Not that I mind renovations per se (on the contrary, I see them as valuable enhancements to the overall property), but he is one of these arrogant people who refuses to hire professionals to get the job done right, and instead penny pinches and takes ten times longer to do everything (most of which will need to be done over again because he did it wrong!). In French this kind of person is called a bricoleur (bricolage being homespun repairs or building). In English I just call him an asshole. (Sorry for the unexpurgated version - I'm emboldened by the fact that he will never read this - and even if he did, unlike the guy in Carly Simon's song, he'd be too vain to think it was about him!)

Anyway, the story has a happy ending because the renter (a nice young guy who was actually wearing a Boston Fitness shirt - that's another story) was home upstairs, and between the two of us, and several tests involving dumping buckets of water on his bathroom floor, we discovered what the problem was. The mystery leak was caused by the fact that Monsieur Bricoleur had made the brilliant decision to REMOVE ALL THE CAULKING from the shower and replace it with PLASTER, meaning that whenever his renter took a shower, the water ended up seeping through the floor and eventually through our ceiling.....#%@#*&!!

So all's well that ends well. We made a new friend with the guy upstairs, and now we have a common enemy in the "owner" (the renter's landlord). Oh yeah, and the leak is fixed, which is the main thing - a couple of euros of joint compound did the trick (amazing how simple life can be, when you just follow some basic rules of maintenance).
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