24 February 2014

Home invasion

Given that I can't stand disruption to my environment, and find it difficult to deal with anyone being in my home, I avoid having workmen in unless the situation is an emergency. I prefer to live with a dripping tap than move everything around under my sink just so that a plumber can turn the water off.

The morning my toilet wouldn't flush was one such emergency. I steeled myself for the plumber's visit to deal with what I suspected would be a simple job. On arrival, though, he noticed that not only did the internal workings need to be repaired, but the cistern itself was cracked.

Cue a second visit to replace that; a much bigger and messier task than anticipated. Also, the new cistern was white, rather than cream as per the existing suite, and smaller than the old one, so a strip of different coloured paintwork was now visible either side of it. I need items to match, and be flawless, so this only added to my growing stress. 

Image courtesy of Rawich/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Then the cistern developed a drip and the plumber had to come back for a third time. A straightforward fix had become an OCD ordeal of three incursions into my space, followed by long and exhausting clear-ups to get things back to normal. My idea of a clear-up is not just vacuuming up debris and wiping away dust in the immediate work area, but checking that everything in my flat is where it should be. It's all about reclaiming my territory.

Three weeks ago, I faced possibly my biggest domestic nightmare yet.

It began when I returned home to find my ageing boiler wasn't working. An engineer visited the next day to fix it, but a few hours later - just as I was getting settled after the upset of his visit - it gave out a second time. 

A different engineer came around the following morning and declared it irreparable. I tidied up yet again, even more stressed now that I knew the boiler had to be replaced. Only to discover, just as I was - finally - leaving for work, that it had developed a drip, meaning the engineer had to return later to tighten a valve. And I had to tidy up once more.

That evening, an independent heating engineer came to quote for a replacement. And the following day, a British Gas rep. And, the day after that, the same rep returned, to sign off the paperwork for the job. Even without any messy work being involved, their visits necessitated a 'clear-up', as they kept touching and moving things.

In the space of four days, four strangers had made five visits to my home, leaving me beside myself with stress and anxiety. As a result, when two friends arrived with spare portable heaters, even their presence in my flat was almost unbearable.

Hence the title of this post, which I initially hesitated over, due to the sensitivities around its US meaning of 'unauthorized and forceful entry into a dwelling'. Then it occurred to me that, while none of these workmen broke into my home, I certainly didn't let them in willingly. Their presence left me feeling deeply unsettled and as if my space had been violated. Clearly not as bad as a burglary, but with definite similarities in my response.

And the challenge of the new boiler being installed? That's a story for another day... 

8 comments:

71ยบ & Sunny said...

I just found your blog through Tina's, I don't know how I didn't know about it before!

Oh I can't stand it when technicians come into my home either. In my case, it's more about contamination. I will put necessary appointments off for a long time because I dread them so.

Are you by any chance related to Tina?

Helen Barbour said...

Hi Sunny, I'm so pleased you have found your way to my blog!

It's even worse when the workmen ask to use the toilet - I'd love to say 'no', but know that's unreasonable, especially if they are in my home for a prolonged period.

No, Tina and I aren't related - I found her when searching online for others writing about OCD. The surname is a happy coincidence - though, who knows, there could be joint relatives somewhere along the way...

Evon Brow said...

I understand your sentiments, Helen. Some people find it hard to let other people inside their home, and there's nothing wrong with that. The best thing that tradespeople could do is to fix the problem in an efficient, orderly, and timely manner, so that there won't be a need for clients to worry about those things. I hope everything's fixed by now! Take care!

Evon Brow @ Athens Plumbing

Helen Barbour said...

Evon, thanks for your comment. You are absolutely right about the solution - unfortunately such tradespeople seem to be in the minority! Since then, my washing machine has also had to be replaced - a bit less mess, but still a mess...

Lovella Cushman said...

I understand your predicament. After all, it could be quite a hassle to have strangers going in and out of your home from time to time and leaving a mess behind. Even though those workmen were there to patch your heater up, that doesn’t mean their presence wasn’t adding up to your stress and anxiety levels. Hopefully they've fixed it good that time, so that there wouldn’t be any need for them to keep coming back. Take care!

Lovella Cushman @ Perfection Plumbing

Helen Barbour said...

Thanks, Lovella, unfortunately it has turned out to be a year of domestic crises, so I am starting to get used to the visits now! The boiler was replaced, rather than repaired, so fingers crossed no more work will be needed for a few years to come...

Traci Romero said...

Some people do find it difficult to have people coming in and out of their house. And that’s perfectly understandable, especially if those people are strangers to begin with. Well, I just hope the repairmen were able to fix all the plumbing problems, so your anxiety over that experience was worth it in the end. In any way, thanks for sharing this, Helen! Take care always!

Tracy Romero @ Harris Plumbing

Helen Barbour said...

Tracy, thanks for your comment. Those problems were fixed, so I'm probably about due for some more to emerge!