I present a new instalment in my Janitor
from in Hell Series, which starts with my installation in the concierge function, continues with an epic flood, and I wish I could say it ends here, but the tragic story goes on.
I don’t hate being the janitor. I fucking hate being the janitor. I’m exceptionally unsuited for the execution of this post. I know
next to nothing about maintenance, I’m not passionate about the vision of making the tenement a better place and, most of all, I panic in emergencies.
The other day my janitorship struck back at 10:30 PM, while I was sitting at my office-slash-kitchen table, watching people pretending to be surgeons dissecting a tumour on Grey’s Anatomy, and munching Oreos. On which the power went off. My mother would observe that it was surely a divine strike punishing me for eating Oreos for dinner. On which I’d retort that I’m Buddhist and fully confident that the universe doesn’t give a shit about my eating habits.
I finished my Oreos while the buffered video was still running on the laptop and then went to explore. I didn’t get farther than the corridor when I realised that the power was off, hear, hear, and since there is no god in this godless building, there was no light. The flashlight function on my phone didn’t turn out to be exactly powerful, but I managed to stalk my way in the street and confirm the worst.
No, there was no zombie apocalypse, that wouldn’t have been so bad since I’m already half-dead and why not take it to the next level, right? The worst thing was that the outage was in my building only. Which is where the janitorial hero comes in and saves the light and WiFi. I’m kidding, of course. This was when I picked the phone and called the landlord to ask where the fuck were fuse boxes in this forsaken building.
The operation was much more complex than it sounds. Apparently, you can either be conducting a call or flashing the flashlight on the phone, not both simultaneously. Don’t tell me that I should’ve grabbed a regular flashlight. I couldn’t find it because there was no light, see? If you don’t see, nevermind, neither did I. So I grabbed a lighter and kept the flame on while operating on the fuse box, which I probably deemed a good idea. It’s not like it’s the main gas shutoff valve. Is it?
Neither the landlord’s instructions nor my description of the situation proved particularly productive. I spent an hour haunting the building and hunting fuse boxes, while burning my fingers on the lighter and exchanging profanities with the landlord. Then I decided that I.WASN’T.FUCKING.DOING.IT, gave up and returned to my flat to die of exposure, since the heating doesn’t work when there’s no power. Before settling down to die, it occurred to me that I had a candle, which I duly lit, because I needed to pee and didn’t want to miss the bowl. Yes, I know I’m a girl, but it was dark enough to miss the bathroom entirely.
I retired in the bed, wearing all I have. I googled generators, in case I survive, because the next time this happens, I want to be able to boil some bloody water at least. Then I decided I’d go the medieval way and prepared to start burning books. Then I fell asleep and dreamt of an electrician alighting from a white unicorn with a rainbow horn, chanting Let there be light and resurrecting me and the electricity alike.
In the morning, the summoned electrician arrived in a yellowish van, presumably originally white, which was in the final phase of entropy. He asked what happened. Dunno, I chattered my teeth. Life, I guess. The torch-bearer worked his magic on one of the switches, which was in the off position, though I swear it was in the on position when I left it. Okay, I don’t swear, I don’t know what I was doing. On which the power went on.