Sunday, June 8, 2008

I'm Not Wild About Harry

Harry is a neighbor who could make even Mr. Rogers cry. It is one of the great mysteries of life how Harry snagged a mortgage on what was once a showplace; decorated by an Artiste in a gold Lexus with a license plate that said "le peche." The couple who hired The Peach to decorate the showplace spent about 75% of their waking hours beautifying yard and pool, and the other 25% sipping perfect martinis poolside, with Frank Sinatra crooning in the background. Harry, well, he has "worked" in the yard once since he moved in; when the grandkids were coming to visit and it was impossible to enter the house through the front door because the bushes had grown through the railings and across the steps. After he cut the bushes (with a box cutter) he reverted to his normal routine, sitting by the algae-green pool with a bottomless beer, smoking assorted things like, but not limited to, cigarettes and cigars; and throwing the butts into the "swamp."

Harry gives new meaning to the concept of MacGuyvering. For instance, when the glass panel in his front door shattered about a year ago, he covered the opening (inside and out) with clear packing tape. You can hardly tell, except for sometimes the "glass" comes unstuck and flaps in and out of the house with the breeze. Then there's his clever solution to the "algae pond," which has been a problem for a few of the neighbors, resulting in complaints to the county and a few (unpaid) fines. Forget pricey pool chemicals. When it gets green enough to cause comment - approximately every 10 days or so - Harry just pulls the plug, then runs the hose for a few days to refill it.

Which might have something to do with the fact that his water bill has apparently been, um, neglected for some time. Like long enough to earn him a disconnect. I wasn't aware of this, and would have been very happy in my ignorance-is-bliss; had the county not accidentally cut off our water instead of his.

The very day after the air conditioning decided to take its annual summer vacation. Don, our amazing Fix-It Guy, is very proud to have coaxed 21 years (so far) out of our antiquated HVAC system. Once when the "fan basket" (who knew we had one?) broke (or that they could break?) Don told us not to worry. He saw one on the ground behind the Dairy Dip in Hopeville, and he would fetch it. So I can't exactly entrust the system to anyone else. It likes Don. Don likes it. But Don can't get out here until the first of next week because of a crisis with the A/C at the Sizzler; and so we swelter.

With no water. Not having a clue why we were dry, I called the county water department. There is an outage 3 zip codes south, says the Customer Service Representative; after I have been assured that this conversation could be monitored for quality assurance. I replied that I didn't think that was close enough to affect us. "Please hold a moment" gave me enough time to log in to on-line banking, check that I had paid the water bill (whew,) see that it had been processed by the water department (double whew!) and bake two batches of chocolate chip cookies with coconut chips instead of the chocolate, and walnuts rather than pecans. And let the dogs out twice.

Finally, the Customer Service Representative returned, thanked me for holding, and explained that our water had been disconnected "in error." But she was going to write a "Service Ticket" and it would be "Highest Priority" and someone would be dispatched posthaste to turn the water on.

I gave thought to dragging our hose to Harry's pool deck, site of his outdoor faucet, to hook it up and collect the water that was Rightfully Ours so that I could at least flush; until a cursory peek out of an upstairs window yielded the following:

The pool deck was inhabited by a very large woman in a hot pink bikini and a thick coating of very shiny oil sunning herself (and swatting flying things) by the opaque, emerald-green, uh, hole in the ground.

So I deadheaded gardenias instead. In the 100 degree heat. Sweated myself silly, sure I'd have a shower waiting. Came back inside to find, 3 hours later, no water. I called the county again, and got a different Customer Service Representative (probably second string, because all the regular folks were at lunch) who told me this was all news to them, there was "no report on our account." She took the information grudgingly (because she didn't get to go to lunch until the Important Customer Service Representatives returned) and I could tell she thought I was scamming her. Again, she promised me "highest priority."

I'd hate to be "lowest priority", which might be sometime after the next ice age. (Oh, Ice! Glorious ice! I would wallow in ice! I would crunch it, caress it, worship it!) Four more hours passed, and closing time for Customer Service was imminent. I called again and got yet another Customer Service Representative, who assured me that my "report" was "in the system" but I had to be patient. There were Many, Many Important Things that had to be attended to by the people who turned water off and on. I told her that I had small children at home (didn't mention that they had four legs and fur) and that I had to make their dinner. And that, if someone didn't show up soon, I would call back every three minutes until someone DID show up - and I would cry.

I think the Customer Service Representatives were getting tired of toying with me at this point. Fifteen minutes later a woman came to turn my water on, but she did not turn Harry's water off. I think her job is "On Only." An "Off Only" technician, or possibly an "On/Off Technician" is required to "Off" someone, which is clearly more dangerous than "Onning." Plus, the "Onner" was talking on the phone, so she might have been just too busy ordering dinner to "Off" Harry, even if she was qualified to do so.

Really, I don't care. No more Evian in the dogs' water bowl. I can wash lettuce for a salad. And I can rinse off that dang gardenia juice. Best of all, we can flush. Life is good.


Nodin's Nest said...

Oh my, thats too funny. I'm glad you got your water back, but what an ordeal!

Mary Ann said...

What a great post. Even though I'm short on time I couldn't stop reading. Glad it all worked out for you.

High Desert Diva said...

This was great! I think you should send a copy to the water department!

Nancy said...

Diva, I'm afraid some of the words I used here are a little too advanced for some of the people I spoke with at the water department.

La Alicia said...

your post cracked me up! sorry about your water problems -- glad it's back on. as far as Harry, there seems to be one in every neighborhood! can't you report him to the health dept? standing water attracts things to lay eggs like mosquitos that can carry and spread disease. don't know if you all are under water restriction -- we are and wasting water is a HUGE no-no ... you can get a ticket. can you report his drain and refill actions to the right authority?

glad you and your four legged children have running water again! :)

Crystal said...

I think the customer service reps at your water department must also work for our electric company.

And the government.

esque said...

Lol, I think I've encountered the same customer reps just today!

thecaffiend said...

Um, I have to speak up. As the leader of the CoM (Cult of MacGyver), and having named the common ares of my workplace The Phoenix Foundation, and taking great pride in the MacGyver-esque nature of my job, i ask that you refrain from saying he MacGyvered anything. Having conversed with Harry, it pains me greatly to think of him being compared to the greatest TV hero ever.

That being said, I think you should start lobbing stuff out your window and into the swamp. see how long it takes to get noticed. Start with a few of those snakehead fish...