B! and I spent our first Christmas together with no heat.
Things started to go south the night of the 23rd, it would seem, because by the morning of the 24th our thermostat read five degrees below its target. We pondered this while rushing to my parents’ house, 40 minutes away, for Christmas Mass and dinner. We pondered it further on our drive back home, as the temperature dropped and the hour grew late. Upon arrival, our apartment was a balmy 58 degrees, and we intellectually deduced that the heat was for sure not working. We opened our presents under piles of blankets and slept with four quilts.
That was all kind of romantic and sweet actually, until the morning, when things started to suck. It was freezing, far too cold to shower (too cold to wash my face, truth be told), and so I arrived at my parents’ house a dirty, shivering, unkempt ball of angst. I mean, fucking Christmas, right? Who shuts off someone’s heat on Christmas??
(Actually, it happened to me in 2005. So this is the SECOND time I’ve had my heat shut off on Christmas. Sidenote.)
I called National Grid, who didn’t have an answering service, and I called my landlord, who didn’t answer his phone. And the more I thought about things, the madder I got. I mean, I’d been paying my bills, right? I know the account isn’t in my NAME per se, but obviously SOMEBODY’s signing the checks. And you choose December 23 to enforce your right to terminate? National Grid! You bastards!
Eventually I got someone on their emergency line, who told me that, because we still had hot water and gas for the stove, that it was an internal problem. So I called my landlord again, who didn’t answer. Again. By 11pm, I was googling “tenant’s heat rights MA” and constructing a lawsuit in my head. I mean, I know it’s a holiday and everything, but for God’s sake, man, CHECK YOUR VOICEMAIL! This is an emergency, and you’re legally bound to respond. B! and I stayed with my folks that night – him on the couch, me in a twin bed – and woke up early to drive back to Revere.
An icy blast greeted us when we opened the door, and I called my landlord for the THIRD time and left a message in my Serious Voice. For those of you who have heard my Serious Voice, you understand it is not to be messed with. My Serious Voice means business, you know, and I guess he must have heard me, because less than five minutes later he walked in our front door. B! greeted him cautiously, and together we ventured down into the basement to find….
a big ol’ oil heater.
Oil. Not gas. Oil.
And, hey, guess what. We’d run out.