Tuesday, January 30, 2018

You’re a Real Genius!


So apparently my brain, in order to save room for the many important things I need to know these days (like making sure Wyatt has two snacks in his bag on the days he has afterschool activities, or which dinosaur was the biggest, or what day I need to have Lilly at school at 6:45 because she has a volleyball tournament), absolutely refuses to retain information it deems unnecessary.  

Case in point: this past fall I was using the Memrise language app to practice my Korean, and things were going swimmingly as I learned to read, write, and say, “Hello”, “Thank you” and “Thanks” (a big difference actually), “Sorry” and “Welcome”.  Then, I’m not kidding, the next phrase I had to learn was, “You’re a real genius.”  I mean... is this really something Koreans say to each other often?  When are you going to use that?!?! 

My brain just wouldn’t let it in.  Arms crossed, “Anneyo.” (“No.”)

But as I once learned in Paris (when Vegetarian Joy ordered a big ol’ leg of lamb because  she hadn’t bothered to learn the words for meat in five years of studying French), even those words you think you’ll never use just might come in handy.  Yes, even a silly, snarky phrase like, "You're a real genius."  Because... my property manager.

If you’ve been reading this blog for at least a year, you’ll remember the story of how he proposed to solve the problem of my dysfunctional oven by putting a new one right in front of it.  In the middle of my narrow, galley kitchen.  When I had a one-year-old.  So many bad ideas wrapped into one terrible package.

This is who we went to with our newest problem.  Actually, it’s not “new” because it also happened last winter, but it seems we either have really cheap glass in all our windows or they weren’t properly installed.  When the temperature gets to around freezing or below, the condensation on the inside of the glass is completely out of hand.  Forget being able to see out of them as there are waterfalls of moisture pouring down, forming pools on the windowsills.  On particularly cold nights, I’ve woken up to the sound of running water in our bedroom and realized it was condensation on the upper sill flowing onto the lower.  If the water was ever shut off, we could probably survive on what forms on our windows.

I’ve been spending inordinate amounts of time morning and night drying off our windows with towels — and remember how I don’t have a dryer? — but the real problem is that I can see mold growing under the wallpaper because of moisture I can’t get to. I’m terribly allergic to mold. 

So we brought it up with the property manager.  Well, except that he was out of the country and couldn’t be reached.  (This actually happens most of the time when we have maintenance issues.)  When he was finally back in town, he explained to me what condensation was.  Exasperated, I told him I had learned that in third grade and sent him pictures I’d taken after cleaning the windows while waiting for my towels (and the laundry for the six of us) to dry on our rack.  


Finally as I was putting the kids to bed one night a couple weeks ago (impeccable timing, always), he called and announced that he was sending someone over to clean the windows (which I assumed meant the mold) for me.  The woman would come the next morning at ten.

Now... When I’m taking on a big cleaning task, especially if mold is involved, I wear yoga pants (the ones with the bleach spots from that time the kids had the stomach flu) and an old, holey tank top. My hair is in a messy bun — the kind that actually looks messy, not cute — and makeup is nonexistent.  I’m there to get the job done, and if I get dirty in the process, well, that’s what soap and hot water were made for.  It’s not a pretty picture.

When I opened the door that morning, though, I found a smiling woman in her sixties, her hair perfectly coiffed and makeup flawless.  She had a trim figure and wore tight, faux-leather pants, high-heeled boots and a fur-trimmed coat.  There were no supplies with her, just a purse casually slung over a shoulder.  I looked behind her into the hallway, concerned that this was not the person I was expecting till she said, “Clean?”

More promising.  

I welcomed her in with a smile and bow, but then she rattled off a string of Korean I couldn’t hope to understand.  So we stood staring at each other and smiling awkwardly for a long moment until I got my phone with its Google Translate app and pulled up the Hangul keyboard.  She looked at it, then shook her head, saying a whole lot more.  I had no idea what to do.  As I stood there trying to figure it out, she went to my sink, pulled Annalee’s Minnie Mouse cup out of the drain rack and went over to our water dispenser.  Before I could offer a nicer mug (I have many), she filled the cup with hot water and as I stared in bewilderment, whipped a packet of instant coffee out of her purse, dumped the whole thing in the cup and downed it like she was taking a shot.

At this point I texted Matt, “This just keeps getting weirder”.  

But then!  She grabbed the two washcloths I use on the dishes off the sink and headed to the windows with them! That was not going to work at all, so I ran to grab my big stack of “cleaning the windows” towels and handed them to her, the whole time thinking, She’s going to use my things to clean?! Call me crazy, but I just thought that when someone cleans for you, they bring their own supplies.    

She wiped every single window down from the tippy-top down.  But she didn’t address the mold issue at all.  When she was done, she came up to me with an open palm and said, “50,000 won.”  (About $50). 

My eyes almost fell out of my head.  Please don’t get me wrong: she had worked and should be paid, but I was under the impression that my property manager was paying her.

“Um, just a moment,” I said with a smile frozen on my face and grabbed my phone.  “The cleaning woman thinks I’m going to pay,” I told the manager.

He chuckled.  “Yes, you pay.” 
  
I kind of gasped.  “Excuse me?!!!  I pay?!!!”

“Yes,” he said, “you need windows clean, I call her, you pay.”

So then... My head almost exploded.  “She didn’t take care of the problem!!!!  She just did what I do twice a day — for FREE!!!  I didn’t ask you to send a cleaning woman!!! I just want the mold GONE and the windows FIXED!!!!”

He laughed again.  I know sometimes people laugh when they’re nervous.  This sure felt like he was laughing at me, though.  But if he was nervous, he had good reason to be, especially the longer he laughed.  Lucky for him, it’s not yet possible to punch a person through the phone.  “Okay, bye!” he said, then *click*.  He hung up.

If there is one thing I hate (come to find out), it’s when someone hires a person to do a job I do for free and then asks me to pay.  But if there’s one thing I hate more, it’s when I’m laughed at for someone else’s idiocy.  And if there’s anything I hate even more than both those things, it’s when I’m hung up on.

I discovered just how fast I can thumb-type as I sent the man a flurry of furious texts, ending with, “If I pay this woman, you WILL fully reimburse me.”  Finally, he conceded.  

Within an hour of her departure, the windows were fogging up again. 


This might sound melodramatic, but I actually cried.

But desperation to maintain a smidge of his wife’s sanity led Matt to buy a dehumidifier.  I had protested it wouldn't work because this only happens at certain temperatures, but he put his foot -- and money -- down. It doesn’t completely solve the problem, but it’s also not like Niagara Falls any more.  And to my happy surprise, the laundry dries much faster.  I’ve been able to dry two whole loads a day!  Sometimes even one more at night!  This. is. HUGE. At least my towels are dry again each time I have to climb up to clean off the windows! 

Also, I’m thinking I'll take a cue from the cleaning woman and spiff myself up a bit as I climb up to dry the glass again... and again... and again.  Make it more of an occasion, right?  

Matt and I aren’t calling our property manager with any problems because we’re frankly afraid of his harebrained solutions.  Clogged sink?  Closet door off its hinges? Broken light fixture?  A barbershop quartet will be there at ten in the morning to sing your troubles away.  Bonus: you get to pay them!!! 

But I’m thinking, that was his plan all along!  Maybe he was tired of having to do this property management thing (but not tired of the money!), and this was the perfect solution to get us off his back.  

Anyway, I guess it’s time to learn dust off that phrase and pack it into my brain so I can say it to him: You, sir, are a real genius.

1 comment:

  1. If anyone thinks she is exaggerating, I have seen this myself. Pools of water on the floor that get everything wet that you forgot to move to the middle of the room. Be sure no clothes are hanging out of your suitcase onto the floor, for instance. Crazy!

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