I came home last night to a squishy floor. My roomie informed me that water had been pooling in our hallway (really more of a smallish space between doorways, but we call it a hallway) ever since she got home, and it was starting to soak through the carpet. As the evening went on, we put down more and more towels, the water spreading until our floor looked like laundry day dumped out on the rug.
In one respect, I was glad we were both girls, because my boyfriend would never have had enough towels to deal with this. (I once had to explain to him what a linen closet was.) Not to stereotype, but girls just tend to accumulate more fabric goods, if only because our relatives don’t know what else to give us for graduation and Christmas.
But toweling needs aside, when we realized we didn’t want to wake up to an entirely flooded apartment, we called – you guessed it – a male friend to come over and look at what was wrong. Our neighbor, who is a friend of ours, stopped by and showed us how to turn off the heating part of the water heater, but he couldn’t turn the valve to stop the water flow to the tank.
After he left, we started thinking of who we knew who might have the tools we needed. I actually ended up calling my boyfriend’s roommate, because I knew my boyfriend was already asleep and turns his phone off at night. So BF’s Roomie graciously came over, even though he had almost been asleep himself, and figured out a way to bust through the corrosion on the valve and cease the water flow. I rejoiced!
Except we could still hear dripping.
Turns out it was a pipe behind the water heater, which BF’s Roomie found with the help of my little ladybug mirror from B&BW (three cheers for sparkly impulse buys!). I called maintenance at precisely 8:00 this morning, and a very nice man is now draining our hot water tank and explaining to me how these older apartments have this super awesome design where a drain is placed behind the water heater where only house-elves could possibly reach it to keep it clear and clean. So that’s clogged, obviously, but he says we’ll have it fixed by the end of the day.
But once again, as with my car, I found myself succumbing to an instinct that told me I had to justify my decision-making in a home maintenance problem. Even as BF’s Roomie was working away at the shutoff valve, I was rambling about the evidence that suggested it was the water heater, or something in that area, and how shutting off the power and the water made sense. BF’s Roomie patiently listened and agreed with everything I said, but he gave me a few funny looks, so at one point I stopped myself.
“I’m sorry,” I said, “but as a girl I’ve sort of been raised with this societal instinct that whatever I decide to do about home maintenance stuff is probably wrong.”
“Yay stereotyping,” he answered dryly.
I was able to recognize, identify, and control the ingrained tendency to second-guess myself this time, so I suppose my experience with my car breaking down has made some inroads into my mental definition of Me As Female Dealing With Problems of Male Expertise. And even though it turned out it wasn’t the water heater leaking, we would never have found the real problem without the logical decisions my roommate and I made.