January 13, 2012

The case of the heater

Here are two stories. My mother's co-worker, an immigrant from China, turned on the kitchen faucet and had no idea how to turn it off. This wasn't a fancy faucet either. But I guess she didn't have such sinks where she came from, so this contraption became her enemy, and she was not winning the battle. She ended up calling 9-1-1 because it was an emergency. Her sink was overflowing, and if she didn't stop it, her whole house would flood! The firefighters came and turned off the faucet. How? He twisted the knob to off.

Story two: This man (my father's friend who's also from a foreign land) didn't know the that red lights meant stop and green meant go, so every time the light was red, he would drive and wonder why people were honking at him.

I was shaking my head when I heard these stories. How can anyone not know how to turn off a faucet or understand that red means stop? Isn't that universal? "Give me the greenlight" means go right?  Come on, people!

And rightie tightie, leftie loosie. I've never actually typed that out, so it looks really awkward and cute at the same time. If I turn something towards the left it will loosen it and if I turn it towards the right, it will tighten it. That's exactly what I did to our heater. It started getting cold in the apartment so I tightened it because it was loose. The next day, my roommate layered up before bed (sweatpants, sweater, three blankets). Usually, he'd don his Harvard t-shirt and basketball shorts. The day after that, it was just unbearable. I walked around the apartment wrapped in a blanket, and spent the majority of my time in the kitchen or restroom because those were the two hottest spots. It was frustrating. How can our heater break? If ours is broken, that means everyone else in the building is freezing their toes off too! I went back to the source and turned the knob tighter. It was still cold. I googled and youtubed "how to fix a broken heater" but I didn't have the advance tools, and the heaters looked different from mine.

I called our super (I'm his favorite tenant).

"Yeah, it's really cold. Our heater is broken," I told him as he walked in the apartment.

"Really? It should be working. Which ones?"

I pointed to our room. "There, and in the living room."

He kneeled down and starting turning the knob towards the left. "Look, it was closed off. You have to loosen it so turn it to the left." He went to the living room and said the same thing. "It should start heating up in 20 minutes." And he left.

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