New City, New Neighbors, New Normals

Today is day 13 of living in London. We are currently staying in a corporate let in the heart of West Ealing (far west London), and the building is so quiet during the day, it makes me wonder if we’re the only people here. But I was to quickly learn that was not true.

Just last Friday, a tall, Eastern European woman came knocking on our door and bruskly said there was a leak from our shower to hers, and water was coming in through the light fixtures.

Now, this building is not one of the older, Victorian homes I have been walking by the last couple of weeks. This is a new, glass windows, several stories high, proper building. How could it be suffering this sort of damage when the smell of fresh paint still lingers in the halls?

Not wanting to electrocute my neighbors, I ran down to check the damage to report back to the landlady (aka the company “relo” manager). I got the woman’s phone number and promised to let her know what would happen and how we could get it fixed. The door closed, and I politely tip-toed back upstairs, and I had picked up the phone before I saw the woman’s phone number. I had no idea how to read it.

In the states, there are countless nationalities represented, and we’ve been called a “melting pot.” But it’s not just the U.S. that has millions of people flocking to new lives.

These numbers were special characters she gave me, and if I had to guess, it was Russian, but the last thing I wanted to do was play phone roulette hoping to get the right combination. With as many characters in English phone numbers, it would have taken an eternity.

The whole weekend passed without word from a plumber coming by. We are lucky enough to have two showers in this temporary flat, so the sense of urgency was misplaced.


However, the second shower is in a bath/shower arrangement that only has half a glass enclosure. If you’re not careful, water sprays all over the place. I’m so used to shower curtains that keep all water inside the porcelain tub–call me crazy. But also, we didn’t want to be responsible for damage that was out of our control.

Cubicle Shower

Well, come Monday night, and Jeff and I were ready for bed, tucked in the sheets, closing our eyes when our door bell rang. It was about 945pm. Who was at the door at this hour? Thinking it was a joke or mistake, we ignored it until it persistently rang again. From outside the building, we could hear the plumber yelling up the three flights announcing to not just us, but the entire complex, “I’m the plumber looking at a leak!”

Our bedroom window is directly above the call box so we can very clearly hear any conversations and when exactly people are coming through the door, and how they close the door. He could have whispered this and we would have heard him, clear as day, but nonetheless, at 10 o’clock, we had a plumber come and fix our shower.

It took him about 45 minutes to fix whatever the problem was, but the damage certainly seemed extreme. We are very glad our neighbor came to alert us of the problem, but it was rather unorthodox how it was all fixed. This would be something to get used to during our stay in jolly ol’ England.

And the other thing we did learn is that some things are universal, such as plumber’s butt.


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