Monday, September 13, 2010

Are We Spoiled?

Late last week I experienced something I don't want to ever experience again . . . 4 days without any hot water. The heat in our home isn't run off electricity.  Like many homes in Europe ours is still heated by oil.  Stinky, expensive home heating oil.  This oil also runs the water heater.  Wednesday of last week David comes up to me and says, "I think something is wrong with the temperature control in my shower.  I couldn't really get any hot water, it was only warm-ish." I was a bit concerned but not really because we have 2 showers and if need be he could use mine until we figured out what was going on with his.  Then I go to take my shower and I can only get slightly warm-ish water. 


So we check all the other faucets and no hot water out of any of them. 


We couldn't do anything about it right then because we both had to get ready for work and leave the house so we decided to call for oil on Thursday morning.  So I got up the next morning and immediately called Franz, our local heating oil guy.  He said he couldn't come out until MONDAY.  Not acceptable.  I asked him if he could come out any sooner.  He asked, "Are you out?" What I should have said was, "Yes we are.  Is there anyway you could come out this afternoon?" Instead, I didn't want to appear to be a stupid American who isn't used to buying heating oil so I said, "No, but almost." He graciously agreed to come out on Saturday morning. Franz probably saw that we were out when he got here anyway because he went and checked the level on the tank and noticed that we had shut off the heating unit so the pump wouldn't burn out.  Oh well, at least he didn't say anything about the oil level or the pump being switched off.  The ironic thing is that I was going to call him that week for oil anyway so that we'd have enough for the winter.  We were kind of putting it off because it's very expensive and we wanted to wait until I started getting my paychecks so we could afford the oil.  I guess we just didn't call soon enough.

Even though Franz came out early Saturday morning I didn't get my hot shower until the next day. I had to wait 2 hours after he left before I could even turn the pump on again and then let it run a good hour and half before the motor would kick on and start heating things up.  I had to go to the annual PMEL pig roast that afternoon so I didn't have time to stay and wait for hot water.  So I took another quickie, yet invigorating, cold shower and left to go up to the campsite.  First thing I did when I got home, though, was test all the faucets and get excited that we had hot water again.  I had thought about taking a shower that night just so I could have one with hot water but I decided not to be wasteful because I really didn't need it, I wasn't smelly or feeling scuzzy.

So in answer to my initial question, yes I do think we're spoiled.  We come to rely on all of these modern conveniences for the running of our daily lives and if something as simple as hot water isn't working, we flip out.  Because goodness knows you can't do laundry, wash dishes or clean your house without hot water.  And the sad part is I would have been (somewhat and begrudgingly) willing to put a huge pot of water over a fire to boil. But the problem is that since we have all these modern machines and other conveniences there's no place to build a fire to do such a thing.  I'm sure my neighbors would have objected profusely if I had started a fire in the backyard.   I guess it just makes me grateful that I'm living in a time of modern technology where I can have hot water in an instant instead of waiting 4 hours or more for it to get warm so I can do all my chores for the day.  I sincerely respect the people who, up until the last 100 years or so, had to deal with that kind of work every day.  I am also so very glad I am not one of them. :)

I love hot showers.

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