Thursday, October 23, 2003

the infamous leak

I find it interesting how many people will think that I can't speak English just because I'm Chinese. Today, a contracter-construction-worker-type-guy was talking to my dad about some work that needs to be done on our apartment, and after a particular point, turned to me and said, about three volume notches up, "DO YOU UNDERSTAND?" gesticulating with each word. I was a little surprised. I mean, if my dad speaks perfect, although heavily accented, English, logically, I should too.

So I just said, "Yes." I can never think of snappy comebacks in the moment. And anyway, snappy comebacks are not always appropriate, as we're sort of in the position of needing to kiss this guy's ass.

So the problem with our apartment is this: our balcony is leaking water into the apartment below. The building has tried to blame it on us, saying that we've done a poor job of upkeeping the ground, but what the engineers have found is that its a problem with the foundation and roof of the building itself, read: not our fault. So now there's this whole nightmare of who's going to own up to the responsibility and who's going to pay for what, but the bottom line is that it's going to be a huge job, entailing basically tearing up the entire balcony, re-roofing, pouring all new foundation, and paving over the whole thing. It could take up to a month. And there will be jackhammers involved.

"I usually tell people to move out of the house when we're doing work like this," the contracter told me (after he established that I spoke good old American English). "It's really pretty loud, and most people don't tolerate it too well." I told him that there was no way that we were moving out of our apartment for a month. It really shouldn't be a problem with volume, as long as it's done during work hours, but with my luck, I'll be working nights in the ER half that time and trying to sleep through the sound of three burly men tearing up our balcony. Good times.

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