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Sunday, September 22, 2013

I Need a Vacation!


All too soon the plumber was wrapping up his last day before leaving on vacation for two weeks. In France, vacations are inviolable, and virtually everyone takes at least two weeks in August, sometimes the entire month. I was arguably lucky my guy was only going away for half the month. It took until 8pm that Friday to finish doing what he needed to do to get my shower operable. I was grateful he hadn't insisted on leaving at 5pm.

Well, he'd finished everything except to finalize the waste pipe connection, which still lay open and exposed in the garden bed abutting the street, and reconnect my garden hose so I could water during the desperately intense heat wave. (After three years in France, even I wilted when the temperatures climbed above 85°F, and here we were being subjected to 103 and 104 highs for two days, and mid- to upper 90s for longer.)

However, the hot water line still needed to be installed in the kitchen, as did the gas line to the future hob/range top. And the water shut-off valves for both the garden and heating systems were still in their original position, which would be behind a cabinet, leaving no access. They would need to be repositioned beneath the sink, necessitating more pipe to be installed. The bottom line was that nothing could be done by anyone, electrician or builder, in that room until the plumber returned. He was due back the 3rd of September, however, I was leaving just before that for my own vacation in the UK for two weeks, not returning until the evening of the 14th, and there was just no way I was going to encourage my plumber to come into the house and work without me there. God only knew what might greet me upon my return.

Chris was borderline apoplectic when he discovered he could not come in and do anything appreciable until after my return but it could not be helped and he knew it.

“My schedule is totally f%*ked up,” he said, exasperated. I pointed out that he’d said he had big jobs lined up and surely, since my job preceded theirs, he could start theirs earlier and take a day here or a day there, all he’d need to do at a time, to come to me. “But I’m not starting earlier,” he said. “That’s the point. I'm supposed to start them now. Your job should have been finished at least a week ago!” 

I shrugged. I was learning that what everyone had advised about not assuming things would go to schedule was the rule and not the exception. It wasn’t anything I could fix; I had to roll with the punches. I knew Chris didn’t like to leave jobs half-finished. He’s like me—tackle something and get it done or, otherwise, it just lingers and gives you nightmares.

I was going to have to resign myself to leaving on vacation and returning to a mess. Well, I’d been living with a mess ever since the day I’d returned from Portugal to find three burst pipes and resigned myself to my bathroom sink being out of commission on the 10th of March. I’d been brushing my teeth and washing up in the kitchen sink for five months, until the new bathroom had been constructed. 

The dining table and half the living area had been overtaken with stacks of stuff that I repeatedly tripped over, stuff that still didn’t have a home, and I’d been without a proper bedroom for months as well. I could muddle along for the next few months in light of getting a far more efficiently laid out house eventually, couldn’t I? 

In the meantime, I promised myself, I’d go off to the UK and focus on buying paint, hardware, housewares and such, with an eye to the long view. I found myself wondering just how long that view was going to stretch. I thought of my return to Portugal in January and found myself praying it’d all be done before then.

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