Friday, September 22, 2006

"A lost battle is a battle one thinks one has lost"

Now that cooler weather is coming to stay, I am happy that I am no longer in my very small, very overpriced East Village apartment. Not too long ago, I had been exhorting the landlord of the apartment to please, please put in radiators. I mean the pipes were all there and such, but he kept assuring me that when “the time was right” the actual radiators would appear.

After several really cold mornings, the Ukrainian Super appeared with two radiators of different lengths. He was not comfortable speaking in English. I didn't mind if he spoke to me in Ukrainian, but I was sure that he wanted to be understood, so he plunged into my language.

US: Please, miss? Can I put this in bedroom?
ALICE: Of course, of course, put it wherever it belongs.
US: I know you want 24 inches in bedroom, but only 19 inches for you there.

Ukrainian Super spreads his hands apart and shrugs in a there's only so much I can do gesture.

ALICE: Uh. O.K.
US: 24 inches won't fit there. Too big.
ALICE: Well, you're the expert so...

Perhaps I looked crestfallen, though I really didn't care which radiator went into my bedroom as long as the heat came on right away. Anyway, the Ukrainian Super furrowed his brow, pursed his lips, and thought for a few moments. Then, he made his decision.

US: Maybe I try to get 24 inches to fit in bedroom. You want?
ALICE: No, no. It's not necessary.
US: Is alright, then?
Me: Yes, yes. 19 inches is o.k. in the bedroom. Really. More than enough, actually.

So the radiators were installed; Ukrainian Super was pleased that I did not have a meltdown about the size in the bedroom; all was fine. Well, except for one small hitch: the lovely radiators, looking quite spiffy in their new coat of white paint, did not radiate. Not even warmth. Nothing. Niczoho. No Ukrainian Super on the premises, either.

So, size really didn't matter. At that point I would have settled for even six inches of really hot…well, anyway, I had to track down the Ukrainian Super and tell him that the radiators should be useful not merely decorative. Of course, he told me that he was too busy to come over and "fix trouble." I told him that he did not need to fix anything, just go to the basement and push the bloody switch from Off to On.

I had been in this dance with him before; he was always unable to fix things right away. He probably thought, then, that by waging little wars with me, I would hang the white flag from the door.

I do not own anything white.

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