By Jenna Williams
Having lived in Grahamstown for nearly five years, I’ve grown fairly used to an erratic supply of electricity, water, Saints wine and life’s other little essentials. So, on the Friday afternoon of the recent long weekend, I wasn’t particularly perturbed to open the hot tap in my bathroom only to be greeted by a gush of icy water. My flatmate and I decided to wait and see what would happen, naïvely convinced our geyser would magically decide to start working on its own again, and rather glad for an excuse not to do the dishes. By Saturday, however, said dishes were over-flowing from the sink and the pair of us were feeling none too fresh and feminine, having gone 24 hours without a shower.
Now, I’m reluctant to use the word “feminist” when describing myself, but I’d like to think that I’m a modern, self-sufficient woman. I can change a plug. I can fix the toilet. I could probably even change a tyre with the help of my trusty little cubbyhole guide to car mechanics (courtesy of Cosmo). That Saturday, however, my flatmate and I behaved like the worst kinds of maidens in distress. A few desperate phone calls to our faraway landlord and a hapless visit to the student caretaker later and…
The geyser switch had tripped on the electrical board. Aaaah….
Feeling more than a little mortified, my flatmate and I carried on with our day. Then: an all-mighty bang, our electricity was out. It seemed fitting: our geyser was finally working, so of course there would be a power failure. Except… the lights were still on outside. The neighbour’s TV was still blaring at an indecent volume. It wasn’t a general power failure. It was just us.
As fun as a bottle of wine shared over candlelight was for about half an hour, being deprived of coffee was completely unreasonable. So, Sunday morning saw us once again making a few desperate phone calls and harassing the caretaker again – at least this time we were savvy enough to check the electrical board first. Our landlord didn’t answer his phone. We suspect caller ID was our undoing. Finally, an electrician in shining armour arrived to save our sorry selves.
And yet, our ordeal wasn’t over. We quickly realised that our geyser was guzzling electricity at a rate we usually only see over a few days, our hot water was scalding and yet only lasted about five minutes before the familiar sensation of iciness returned. So on Monday, our friend the electrician returned once more, and discovered the geyser’s thermostat was all but a blackened lump of melted metal.
Our problems are resolved after a not-so-relaxing long weekend, but I’m yet to find the fine print advising a degree in electronics before you move into digs – or at least a good electrician’s number on speed-dial.