I got home a little late tonight, because I had a 6 PM meeting with a committee that wanted to pick my brain and then somehow convinced me to think about presenting a program at their conference in October. I walked in a little after 7:30, and there was a definite smell of burning in the air.
Hmmmmm, I thought, checking for smoke. I wasn't here cooking anything, especially since I've been vomiting for a few days, so who burned something in the kitchen?
I didn't find anything burning, and nothing looked burned, so I got a drink and then rinsed out my glass.
Hmmmmm, I thought, checking to make sure that I'd turned the kitchen faucet to "hot". This hot water seems oddly cold, almost as if it's not really hot at all.
I have no hot water in the kitchen.
I immediately tried the bathroom faucets, and discovered that I had no hot water anywhere in the apartment. Like any normal adult would, I spent twenty minutes cleaning the bathroom and tidying the living room, and then called the maintenance hotline for my apartment complex.
"There's no hot water? In any of the faucets?"
"No." I believe I covered that when I said, "There's no hot water in my apartment," but maybe I was somehow horribly unclear.
"I'll need to come over and check the heater."
"OK." Pause. "Where... is the heater?"
I'm asking because I'm terrified that I also need to go clean the other bathroom.
"Oh, your hot water heater is buried under your stove. I'll need to pull that out. Clear everything off the stove, if you have anything on there, and I'll be there in about thirty minutes."
But I didn't clean the stove! Are you sure the hot water heater can't be in the bathroom? Like, maybe it moved? I mean, I don't live in filthy squalor or anything, but it's been a rough week or two and my apartment looks kind of like I come home every day and do a slow motion collapse from the door to the fainting couch and then to the bed. There are dishes in the sink, there's some splattered dried cheese on the stovetop, and the kitchen is just really not at its best at the moment, so of course the hot water heater is hidden inside it like the half-rotted pit of an overripe peach.
I got things wiped down as best I could, decided there was no time to mop, and thought about dimming the lights, but then I was out of time, and the maintenance man arrived.
"Oh, smell that burning?" How could I possibly not? It smells like Smokey the Bear rolled around on my carpets. "That's the thermostat on your water heater. It's burned up."
"That seems not good." Nothing gets by me.
"Yeah. I have a replacement, but I'll need to pull that stove out."
So he did, and then realized that he still couldn't get to the water heater:
"I'm gonna need to saw through that cabinet."
So he did, after I took all of the glass baking dishes out of it, and then we realized that he still couldn't get to the water heater:
"I'm going to go get a different saw, because I need to saw through that cabinet, too, and it's thicker. I might be here until two in the morning if this is as bad as I think it is."
I'd like to vote against that.
After several minutes of noisy sawing, he finally got to the water heater:
"Look at that! It's burned AND melted!"
Eventually he wired in the replacement thermostat, which he said will last overnight so I can have a hot shower in the morning, and then tomorrow when I come home I will magically have a new hot water heater.
And possible some new cabinets.