Rewiring the System


karma and gratitude: 6 events in 3 months

Posted in Uncategorized by rewiringangel on January 19, 2009

Every two weeks, since October 14, I have experienced a plumbing problem.

The first one was not having any hot water for the first three weeks of living at the exceptional apartment under the eaves of the posh Claremont Hotel here in Berkeley California. The intercom was not connected for almost two months and when it was it was done for me by a resident rather than staff.  The shower knob was missing and not repaired until I called the building owner.

I communicated that I did not have any hot water to the office and to the manager.

The first time I was told to let the water run and it would get hot. The second time I was told that I would have to live with it and that the last tenant had no problem with hot water. The third time, when I said I was running the water full force for 25 and more minutes and still no hot water I was told to run the sink and tub at the same time. The fourth time I said I was sure it was illegal to rent an apartment to a disabled woman with no hot running water.

That is when they called the plumber. After that day, I was told that the part used to turn on the flow of hot water was expensive and they did me a favor.

The next week the kitchen sink and the bathroom sink both overflowed with garbage filled, bacteria rich fluid filling the sink and covering the floor in both the kitchen area and the bathroom with almost an inch of ‘stuff’.

All of the research papers and books I kept by the toilet to read were unsalvageable. This definitely was a big step backwards in my work, both writing and applications.

The person in charge of physical plant told me that this is because I live on the first floor! Imagine that this apartment was rented to a disabled woman when plumbing is expected to over flow the sinks. I should expect this problem to continue and I was the problem!

What was said to me was that I should ‘grow up’ because things happen and clean it up just like everyone else who has an apartment does all over the city. When I commented that the carpet was filthy one of the employees who also lives on the property said, ‘you have quarters don’t you?’

The other response to my kitchen and bathroom sink overflowing was that fixing the plumbing would cost too much since the wall would have to be removed to work on the pipes. “It would be a mess and you would not like that.” So management knows there is a problem with the plumbing in this apartment and chooses not to fix it and instead uses bullying and blaming the tenant.

It took more than a week to clean up each overflow event. During this period, I was unable to unpack and enjoy my new apartment.

The next week the toilet overflowed with fecal matter. It was a mess. When I asked for some help with the name of the cleaner that the building use for cleaning such problems I was told no. They would not give me the name of the products used to sterilize here in paradise. To this day, I have never been given the name of the product line. I went in and asked the manager personally in her office twice. I asked the maintenance staff on two or more occasions, and was treated as though I was a thief. I never asked to be given the products or would take them without permission. I said that I wanted the name so I could order the product on line. When asked the young man if I could look over his shoulder in a hall closet, his supervisor shouted so loud that it made me jump! All this over getting the name of a product, I had a pencil and paper in my hand to write, what was wrong with asking for the product name? I apologized to him because I caused attention to be drawn to him when he was being nice to simply let me write the brand name on the paper.

The next event more than a week after the toilet I had a replay of the overflowed sink. I was told it was all my ground carrots from the juicer. Why am I blamed for putting carrot scrapings down the drain? These people do not know me how do they make this up. I asked why I am accused and told because the 90 something lady who lived here before never had any problems!

What? This is not how the real world of realtors work. In my entire life, I have never had either problems, getting things fixed, or the rude and unprofessional lack of care for the building or the tenant.

The first over flow the maintenance person came reeking of liquor and demanded that I listen to a long story. Perhaps she was relaxing after hours? I felt abused emotionally, forced to listen to how living on the first floor I have to accept that I will have plumbing problems. This conversation changed how I felt about this person and how I felt about the staff who would hire someone who is permitted to blame the tenant for plumbing problems.

The second time one of the staff  came to root the toilet and scratched the porcelain in such a way that I am unable to remove the marks. Will I be responsible for these scratches?

The toilet seat has come undone four times.  The third time, some one of my hair care product  was used to tap the toilet together.

Because of the way I am treated, I did not report the toilet over flowing on the 25 of December or January 3. On January 9 early in the morning, water was seeping out of three places on my kitchen ceiling as the upstairs neighbor stopped up the sink and left the water on.  I had to leave the apartment because of air quality.  When I returned late Saturday evening I got a letter from the resident manager, taped to my door, stating that staff had cleaned everything up listing that the floor was mopped and every surface was wiped clean. This is not true. I have pictures. I asked my neighbors if they have plumbing problems. They said my situation is unheard of in the building!

The manager shouts at me when I suggest that she might want to see the water damage and she states that she has seen it all before then starts shouting at me as though bulling me with loud fast words will put me in my place and stop all communication. She has no gratitude for all the good things in this life we share as tenant and manager. I tried to repeat the one simple sentence ‘that as a courtesy I was calling,wondering if she wanted to come and see what was going on’.

Then the manager called my daughter in the middle of her workday, to tell her that she thinks I use too much toilet paper. How was this part of any conversation about water from the top floor through my ceiling? The manager intimated that she was trying to make things work out hinting, says my daughter to me that I might not be able to live here. My daughter told me she thought the manager was rude in their conversation and not helpful to me in any way.

I have the feeling that I must have spirits in this apartment. I love living here and want to actually get to move in and make this my home.

I have the name of a reliable Plumber to check the pipes. I asked in Church this Sunday morning for insight about this ongoing unhealthy living situation. I have been unable to sleep because of the air quality from the over flows and the stench that rises without over flow from the pipes.

I have been feverish since the ceiling event. I was told by one parishioner to go to the doctor, since having overflows is unsanitary. I have been cleaning the garbage every two weeks for three months and this is the end of my patience.

I am meditating on the hearts of the staff here to bring peace where strife causes inappropriate responses to problems. I post this here in the event any of you reading will have cogent ideas about ending this drama and returning me to my everyday life. I do hope that the staff will change the way they cut me off from opened communication.

One woman living here heard the staff member talking to me and told me she uses the side doors to avoid meeting that person. Several others told me that if I did not back down, not any of the work would be done on my apartment. Things are ‘done’ that way here.

I wondered why two people I knew left this lovely surroundings and I was told by both that I would soon understand. I come to know that this is not just me having a problem but a staff culture where internal politics are used in confrontation with the residents to limit service.

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