Thursday, August 22, 2013

and there was hot water... and it was good

Until just a few minutes ago, when an epiphany occurred to me and I solved the problem, I had labored under the impression that I had no hot water. The new-teachers' handbook had stated, rather ominously, that to get one's gas turned on (hot water is gas-heated), one would have to call a certain gas-company office. So I came into my studio on the night of August 14 fully expecting not to have any hot water.

This impression was bizarrely refuted by the fact that my gas range produced flame when I unstopped the valve (you dial your gas valve open or closed, leaving it closed when you're not using gas; you can see the valve, kind of, in a kitchen photo from this post—fourth pic down) and fired up a burner. I had also tested the room's ondol (heated floor), and had felt warmth there as well. All of this pointed to two facts: (1) I had gas in my studio, and (2) I obviously didn't need to call any office to get it turned on.

But as expected, there was no hot water. I went to my bathroom sink, which has a hot-cold lever that you raise and swivel to govern the water's temperature and flow. Every time I swung the lever leftward, toward the "hot" end of the spectrum, the water would stop flowing. That should have been a clue as to what was really going on, but I was blind to that clue then.

Days passed. I resigned myself to taking cold showers and using cold water when washing dishes. I told myself that, the next time I caught our building's landlord—and I still had no clue where he lived—I'd ask him what the fuck was going on with my hot water.

Then came today. This morning, I stepped into the bathroom fully prepared to take a cold shower. I had developed a method of withstanding the cold whereby I would wash myself from my feet upwards, against the tug of gravity (and all common sense). This has worked fine for me thus far; with my lower extremities wet, it's less of a shock to my upper body when I finally turn the hose on it. So I washed myself, and then suddenly a thought struck me, and all the little clues over the past few days came screaming to the forefront of my mind. Look under the sink, asshole, the universe said.

Sure enough: control valves. Goddamn motherfucking control valves!

My meaty hand shot over to the hot-water valve and cranked it counterclockwise. The flow of water coming out of my shower head immediately increased as hot water came running through the hose. I nearly laughed out loud. I had forgotten one of the most elementary aspects of plumbing: hot and cold water run into your faucet through separate pipes! The hot-water valve had been closed, which is why, back when I first arrived, the water had seemed to shut off when I had swung the lever to "hot."

In my defense, I'll say that I assume the best of people. I'm not one of those paranoid, cynical assholes who immediately assume that everyone is out to screw them. I had assumed—wrongly, as it turned out—that both the hot-water and cold-water valves had been fully opened for my convenience before my arrival.

Gleefully, I finished my shower, toweled off, and went into the kitchenette to test my theory. I opened the sink cabinet, reached inside, and cranked the hot-water valve open. I stood up again, then turned on the hot water. It ran cold at first, then... glory.

So I don't need to talk to our landlord about anything. I don't need to know where he lives. Just about all of my household-related questions have answered themselves over the past week; this was the last major question.

Let me tell you—you never take hot water for granted when you don't have access to it.

ADDENDUM: When I asked him about his hot-water situation at lunch yesterday, Mark gave me a quizzical look and said, "Mine's fine. Why? Yours isn't?" Obviously, his valves were already open when he arrived; he just took his hot water for granted. So before any commenters come finger-wagging to me about how I shouldn't expect this or that, look to Mark's experience. He assumed the best of people, too, and in his case he was right.


1 comment:

John McCrarey said...

geez, less than a week in Korea and you are already in hot water...