Friday, February 1, 2008

New York apartment living and the unexpected!

Disaster in the bathroom.

The one bedroom apartment we rented for the month was in one of hundreds of similar 12 storey ‘doorman’ buildings on the upper west side of Manhattan. It felt ‘lived-in’ and had high ceilings with tasteful panelling which had been painted over many times. There was a separate kitchen and the windows looked onto the street - ‘streets’ are always quieter than ‘avenues’ in NYC. As our agent had told us apologetically, there was an upright Steinway piano in the living room.

The bath/shower taps were leaky … and the bath took forever to run out (over an hour). We reported same and the chief doorman had the handyman use a plunger to fix the drainage problem. While the taps were still leaky a good, hard twist reduced this to a small drip. But one day on our last week after my late-morning shower the cold tap literally came off in my hand as I turned it off. I was then in the precarious situation of being alone in the flat, naked and holding a loose tap which had water surging all around it. After some crazy thoughts about being stuck there all day I released the tap.

This let out a vast torrent of water at such pressure as to hit the far wall at the tiled foot of the bath almost horizontally. It was too late to press the tap back in to slow the flow so I had no choice but to try to summon help. I quickly tried to pack the shower curtain against the wall, partially stemming the flow out of the shower/bath recess. Then half dried and half dressed I hurtled down the flight of stairs to tell the chief doorman that there was water going everywhere. He seems completely calm and spoke straight into his walkie-talkie for the stop cock on the roof to be turned off urgently. His colleague accompanied me back to the apartment to see the slick of water was now coming down the parquet corridor and approaching our front door. Together we repacked the plastic curtain so that 99% of the water now went down the bath drain and the flow slowed after about 10 minutes. Since we were on the second floor out of 15 it took longer for the water to go off due to the amount already in the pipes above.

If we had been in a ‘Carry On’ movie it would have been hilarious. But I will always have a flashback to that water spurt whenever I turn off a stiff tap in the future!

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