For the longest time we’ve only had one functioning bathroom. Technically our apartment has two and so technically they both should work since technically rent is higher for apartments with two bathrooms rather than just one.
When we first moved in we naively made a list of everything “wrong” with the apartment so that our landlord could either fix it or at least not charge us for it when we move out.
We told him about the leaky toilet and sink in the spare bathroom—and not leaky in the annoying, but common, drip-drip-drip way. No, our toilet and sink leaked onto the floor and when you flushed the toilet water literally sprayed across the room. So we turned off the water to the toilet because we were tired of having our floors be wet all the time…and we asked our landlord to fix it.
His solution: You are only two people. You don’t need two bathrooms; one will do.
That fix worked for a long time but we finally decided to pester the landlord about getting it fixed again. Karen will be here for such a long time and with Reid and Jacob joining us in December our one bathroom suddenly didn’t seem to be enough to service .
So our landlord stopped by and dropped off a bag of cement and a little U-pipe for the sink, saying that a plumber would be there later that evening, inshallah, or the next day, or possibly the next.
We got a kick out of the packaging for the pipe. There is no P in Arabic and so when they make packaging in English they are never quite sure when to put a P and when to use a B.
The plumber came a few days after Hatim dropped off the supplies and used the “path room accessaries” to fix our poor bathroom.
And then he wanted us to pay him. That was a big kafuffle. In our opinion Hatim should have been paying since the bathroom was non-functioning upon our arrival. He said that since he paid for the cement and pipe that we could pitch in and pay for the plumber since we’re the ones who wanted it fixed—he didn’t really care if it got fixed or not.
In the end he told Andrew to pay him 20 LE. The only problem was that the plumber wanted 40 LE and stubbornly stood his ground demanding more money while Andrew tried to usher him out the door.
Finally Andrew gave him the extra 20 LE and he left. Hatim arrived ten minutes later and chewed Andrew out for allowing the plumber to leave and for paying him more than what Hatim told him to pay.
Hatim ended up giving us back 30 LE—keeping 10 LE for Andrew’s sake, departing with the words, “Let this be a lesson to you,” whatever that’s supposed to mean.
He has no idea how difficult it is to not get ripped off as a foreigner here.
I suppose $1.83 to get our whole path room plumped by a “professional” plumper isn’t a bad deal, although it is still annoying to get ripped off all the time. I feel like that psychotic newspaper boy from Better Off Dead, “I want my two dollars!”
For now I’ll just be satisfied that we have two semi-functioning toilets.
(PS. No baby yet.)