With the newspapers full of stories of homeless people freezing on the streets, I tried not to whine when I had to call my landlord this morning to tell him my furnace wasn't working. It's been the coldest week of the year, but for maybe the first time ever I was glad to see the clouds roll in today. Sure, that means rain for the weekend, but it also means it'll be a little warmer. Not enough to make the street people comfortable, but enough so I wouldn't be frozen in my own house.
The first time I noticed that I wasn't getting any heat was late last night. I was still up watching Nightline (and this week's series about the eastern Congo is another reason not to complain about my life). I paused the show (thank you, TiVo, you are my friend) and took my flashlight upstairs (because they still haven't fixed the loft light). I read and reread the instructions for relighting the pilot light, then followed them precisely, but when I turned the thermostat back up, nothing happened. I flicked it a couple of times, and the forced air started to blow, so I assumed I'd solved my problem.
Hah! Like anything was going to be that easy. I went to bed (eventually), and noticed that the furnace was coming on, blowing unheated air for a minute or so, and then going off again. It did that a few times, but I wasn't about to get out from under the electric blanket to try anything else. I relit the pilot light again the first thing this morning, but nothing happened. No air, no heat. So I called the landlord and woke up his wife. I tried not to whine when I asked her to give him the message, and then I got through the day the best I could.
I'm no fan of space heaters, except when I really need one. I have a little one that I bought last year, during my first winter in this high-ceilinged, hard-to-heat house. I rarely used it then, but I was glad to have it today, even if it did mean plugging it in and unplugging it as I moved from one work station to another. (And who am I kidding? I moved it back and forth between the computer and the couch a few times.) It was on all day, which should send my electric bill through the (very high, peaked) roof.
When the landlord hadn't called me back by six thirty, I did finally start to panic. I don't like making phone calls in the first place, and having to make a follow-up call, and having to do it during the dinner hour, intimidated me. I decided if he wanted me to freeze all night, I would. If he wanted to take care of it in the morning, he'd have to deal with me in my sleep clothes (not that I was going to wear anything but sweats to sleep in a house with no heat). I made up several conversations in my head in which I was highly indignant over having to put up with his callous attitude.
He showed up at my door about seven, and I explained the symptoms. He immediately suspected the thermostat and checked the wiring. Then he went out and bought me a new thermostat, came back and installed it, and left me in a much warmer mood. It took him ten minutes to take care of a problem I could have obsessed over for months.
It's quite cozy in here when I'm not freezing. I peeled off a couple of layers of sweatshirts and settled in for the night.