Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cold and Helpless

This morning I woke up to a freezing apartment and got into the shower, thankful to warm up. But only cold water came out and I had no hope for improvement as this is a recurring problem at our apartment. I was too cold to even attempt washing my hair at this point so I wore a hat all day at work thinking that when I got home it would all be fixed since my neighbor, wearing the thickest sweater I had ever seen, told me the experts were coming to take a look. Between her nagging to our building maintenance guy, and my husband's cute attempt at a German e-mail to our leasers, I decided it would be taken care of.

At home at 7pm, I finally took off my hat, my head itching from the long hours of wear. The apartment was warm, so at least the heating was fixed. But still no hot water. To me this was unbelieveable. It's been on and off since Saturday, not to mention on and off since March. We pay a staggering amount for rent (think over 2,000 USD a month--this is the norm in Switzerland, it's not like we would choose to pay such an amount). And our neighbor is very angry as well--she went out and bought an electric heater--and given prices in Switzerland, I'm sure it wasn't exactly a bargain.

But believe it or not, the most frustrating thing isn't the lack of hot water, it's the feeling of powerless to do anything about it. In the US I would have been on the phone, I would have been writing e-mails or even letters using my persuasive copywriting skills to get across my disatisfaction. While the problem may not have been fixed right away either, I would have at least felt like I was getting my feelings out.

In March, when our hot water went out, I had to deal with it myself since our neighbor was on vacation. I wrote out a German script and read it over the phone. But I never understood what was said back to me so I just kept repeating my script. Then I'd call another number and repeat the same thing, wondering the entire time what the final outcome would be.

Six months later, my German is much better, but I still can't get across something like issues concerning building maintenance and anger. I want to write a letter of dissatisfaction, and I'm going to try it out--using the few words I know like "unbelieveable". I know it won't be what I really want to say, but maybe I can get a little closer now that I can write sentences greater than 4 words in length. Tomorrow morning is German class, so I will have my teacher check it and we'll see if I can shake my helplessness away--at least with a few tedious hours of work.


Unknown said...

Though this one is too old to comment with, I still want to share my side regarding recurring problems on your apartment, this kind of thing also happened to me. But luckily I found out that it's much more easier to rent at Kingsford Waterbay and I am happy to move next week.

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