Michaela Merz

No warm water

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Last year a young man moved into our house. He works as a janitor. Until I met him I never would have thought how diversified and exciting the work of a janitor can be.

If there is nice weather almost the entire house community meets in the garden at the barbecue and then stories are told and people laugh. After this year’s endlessly long winter, spring with its warm temperatures and sun arrived. Thus it is not astonishing that all tenants met on Monday evening at the barbecue. Also the janitor. He had been on duty during the weekend and had worked a lot. And everything had started so harmless.

An old lady called from an apartment building saying that she does not have warm water. Our neighbour went there and thought that this would be a banality, which can be resolved quickly. But when he opened the entrance door he realised immediately that this won’t be a bagatelle. As welcome, water was flowing through the door. Now the source needed to be found quickly. This was an easy task because the water was coming down the stairs and started on the top, third floor under the door of a flat. Little surprising nobody answered when he rang the door bell and the door remained closed. Soon it turned out that apart from the elderly lady nobody was in the house. And the tenant of the flat where the water started could not be reached by phone. And none of the neighbours, who had been reached by phone, had a spare key. Thus the police and a locksmith had to come. But one of the neighbours, who had returned alarmed by the phone call, told that there had been a fight in the family and he had only seen the woman with the children drive away. Oppressive silence followed. Was there possibly the husband in the bathtub with slit wrists? The lock was drilled through and the door opened. But nobody was really eager to enter. The two policemen were very young and looked at the janitor. Well, he thought, it cannot be that bad and dead people wont’t do any harm. He went in and the water flow lead him to the bathroom.

In the bathtub was no body and the cause for the flooding was soon clear. Before leaving, the family had washed a jacket and hanged in the shower. Hanged on a cheap plastic hanger. At one point the hanger broke. The jacket fell down and turned on the warm water tap through its weight and ended on the bottom of the bathtub where it blocked the water drain. Obviously there was no warm water after a few hours.

The rest was prosaic and for the insurance. The water had to be pumped down, floors and walls have to be dried, the wooden floors need to be changed, and so on and so on. But at least there was soon warm water again.

Unbelievable, what one can see as a janitor.

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