Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Water Master

The Water Master is a jerk. He’s the guy that my NGO calls whenever there is a problem with the office pluming, so naturally he is the guy that they would call when I am having problems with the water in my apartment.

Ever since I had moved into my apartment last April I have had a dripping faucet, compliment from my cheap landlord. Despite the complaints I left with my NGO they never found it necessary to call this water master, so it dripped all through April and May. Finally the week before I left the little, old, Russian lady below me hiked up the staircase to tell me that the pipes had rusted through and that the water was leaking into her bathroom. At that point I was a day away from leaving for PST and decided that I would just turn the water off and deal with it when I got back. Well after three weeks of being in the north I return to work and had to coax my NGO into calling the water master so he would fix the faucet and pipes. Despite my NGOs daily claims that he was coming the following day, he never came. For two weeks I waited patiently, constantly reminding my NGO about the problem. During this time I was forced to go to my downstairs neighbor with buckets to fill so I could flush my toilet and clean my dishes. After those two weeks I left for a five day camp in the north only to return and find that still no progress had been made on the water problem.

At that point my water had been turned off for over a month and I could see no reason that the water master had not come. So I handled it in the most passive aggressive (and the most effective) method I knew of. I threatened to call the water master myself! The same method worked out months earlier when I told my NGO that I was going to start knocking on doors to find an apartment to live in! I guess they figured that it wasn’t that big of a deal till I threatened to take care of it myself.

The following Saturday morning, the 4th of July, a woman from my office shows up at my door with a man in tow. They spend about twenty minutes poking around my bathroom and then report to me that he will go to the bazaar, buy all the supplies he will need and return within the hour. Despite my hesitation, my coworker paid him the expenses and left, that had me worried immediately but I figured it wasn’t my money so it wasn’t my place to say how he should be paid. That same day some volunteers were throwing a 4th of July party in a neighboring village, I was still hoping that I would have time to swing by the party.

So for the next three hours I got lost in a book, when I finally pulled myself to reality and realized just how long it had been I got on the phone with my office inquiring on the water master’s where-a-bouts. They seemed just as confused at his delayed return and called him immediately, when they called me back they told me he was on his way and would be there in 15 minutes. Another hour passed. During that hour, I went from impatient to pissed to FURIOUS. Initially I was annoyed because it became clear that I would miss the party but as I dwelled on his absence it the anger outgrew the offence. It was about follow through, being honest, basic respect, and a sense of courtesy. I was turning red as I redialed my office to, once again, ask for his where-a-bouts.

While I was on the phone there was a knock on the door. I opened the door to him and his assistant and was greeted by a faint smell of vodka. I went into interrogation mode. I ask what had taken so long, where he had been, why he smelled like vodka and ended the conversation by instructing him to work fast and to stop wasting my time. Now on a regular day I go out of my way to be a nice, accommodating person but I had been pushed over the edge, I was RUDE to that jerk, water master.

Once again I settled down to read and once again I got lost in my book. After two hours had passed I started to notice the assistant packing up his bags so I got up and asked him if they had finished. Right then the water master stumbled back into my apartment, whatever doubt I had that they hadn’t been drunk before vanished.

I could feel my whole body filling with red, hot anger. I wanted to spit in his drunk face, I wanted to throw his bags out the window, I wanted to punch him- don't worry Mom, all I did was stand there and glare at him. It took me a moment to snap out of the trance and ask him if they had finished. It was hard enough to understand his slurred Russian but it became impossible to understand him as he would unconsciously slip back into Kyrgyz. Through gritted teeth, I would remind him to speak in Russian but within half a sentence he would switch back into Kyrgyz. As I watched him stumble around my bathroom I reminded him for the third time that I don’t speak Kyrgyz but this time I lost it! I was screaming in Russian, cursing in English and shoving him out the door.

As I slammed the door in his drunk face I looked around at my apartment to see piles of pluming that they neglected to bring down and rubble all over my floor, all I could do was cry at that point. I cried and cried and cried. Eventually my coworker swung back by the apartment to see what progress was made and found me red-faced and teary-eyed. As I explained to her why I was having a break down I realized that it had been a year to the day since I had last seen my mom, dad and sister. It had all been too much for one day. She promised to take care of everything the next day and that I just needed to rest.

The following morning she came back with the water master- I could tell by his face I had scared the shit out of him by my little tantrum from the day before. My coworker sat with me while we waited for him to finish, naturally it took one more visit before I had water again. Unfortunatly my toilet still runs, my water heater doesn't work and I have no shower but I have decided to live with the inconviences before I spend another day with the Water Master.

This is all the rotting pipes from soviet times that they pulled out of my wall and left in my apartment for me to clean up. Its still sitting just outside my door!

1 comment:

billybob said...

Say, that picture of the plumbing looks like some of my work at the house! However, my plumbing still works thanks to the fact that it was constructed while I was under the influence of a superior capitalistic product...Sheiner Bock!

Hand in there!