You may remember the minor freakout in which I was convinced our entire household was going to die in our sleep due to a gas leak in the oven. I can call it a minor freakout now because it all turned out fine. The problem was with the oven, not the gas line, and it was quickly fixed for a couple hundred bucks. No big deal! God, why am I always so dramatic? I guess I've seen too many of those BGE commercials. Wires down, red alert, don't go near, you'll get hurt! Yeah, I totally know all the words. Safety first, my friends.
The fix to this problem, unsurprisingly, involved having a guy come over to fix our oven. Unfortunately, I hate having repairmen come to the house. HATE IT. It is so awkward.
The worst was the exterminator that we've had to have come over several times to deal with the massive ant invasions we suffer here in the heart of the concrete jungle. He was gross to begin with, all grunty and sweaty (I am quite forgiving of sweatiness, but this guy was above and beyond any normal limits of perspiration). But even worse, he would always ask me about the baby. Did I need to go feed the baby? Should he be extra quiet in case the baby was sleeping? It would have all been very considerate of him, if, you know, I HAD A BABY. Which I do not. Never have. I got the vague idea that he was trying to hit on me a few times, like he was waiting for me to exclaim that I didn't have a baby because I was single and lonely and wanted to go out on a date with him. It was fucking creepy. If I had had a baby, I would have kept it far away from him.
But even the ones that don't repeatedly inquire about my non-existent offspring are awkward. I never know what exactly you're supposed to do while they're fixing your alarm system or replacing that leaky pipe in the kitchen. Do you hang around in case they have questions? Just go back upstairs to watch TV and wait for them to call you when they're done? Are you supposed to clean your house before they come over? Are you supposed to tip them? Offer them coffee? GAH. What do you say when they tell you "your house is pretty," as the guy who cleaned our dryer vent did? (I said "thank you" and then spent the rest of the day wondering if he was being sarcastic. On that particular day I'd decided that no, you don't have to clean the house for repairmen.)
Anyway, the oven repairman came, fixed the broken heating element in the oven, and left. I stayed upstairs while he was working because I was in the middle of a Pretty Little Liars episode, but fear not -- Madison the Cat kept an eye on his every move. I'm sure he appreciated being micromanaged by a snaggletoothed cat.
Before he left, I asked him to take a look at one of the stovetop burners. I never thought it was a problem before, but flames sort shoot out from under the burner when it's on, and after a near-death experience with the oven I wanted to get it checked out. He said it needed to be replaced, but he didn't carry the parts with him. They'd have to come back, and in the meantime we shouldn't use that burner.
I was really hoping that it would be a different guy for the second appointment, for the same reason that I never go back to the same hair stylist: I hate making small talk with semi-strangers. No such luck. Same guy. Same cat demanding to supervise his work, same messy house. This time I opted to just stay downstairs, reading a magazine in the next room while he worked, feeling ridiculously awkward.
After about ten minutes, I heard him say "Ma'am?", and BOY, good thing I wasn't upstairs, I told myself.
"Do you by any chance have a bathroom?"
"Of course," I told him, "it's right upstairs and to the left." And to myself, I thought, dear Jesus, please let the toilet be flushed.
"Upstairs?", he asked.
"Yup, upstairs and to the left. You really can't miss it." When was the last time that toilet was used? Oh god, are my bras still hang-drying on the back of the door in there?
"Upstairs, and to the... left." He gave me a strange look and resumed fiddling with the burner.
Well, I told myself, I guess he didn't have to go too badly.
A little while later, he put his tools down.
"So, it's upstairs and to the left?"
"Yup," I confirmed.
He slowly went up the stairs. Then I heard him start to come back down. There had been no toilet flush. Crap, I thought, was it THAT bad in there?
He appears at the bottom of the steps holding our purple Dyson vacuum.
And then I died.
And when the locksmith came over last week to put a new deadbolt on our alley gate, Joel handled the entire transaction while I hid upstairs in my pajamas. Amen.