06 October, 2008

The Fun Begins....

It all began when I received my sewing machine in the mail. After finding that a few things arrived broken in a previous box, I decided that it would be wise to take a break from my homework and unpack the machine to make sure it was in working condition. Worst. Decision. Ever.

I find an adapter for the US plug and attempt to turn the sewing machine on. POW! All the electricity in my room goes out. Normally I would just go find the fuse box and flip a switch, but our switches are behind locked doors, so I had to find someone who had a key.

The Senior Resident on call was a very sweet girl named Lauren. We opened every single locked door in the flat , and after we had no luck finding my room's fuse box, I suddenly had a thought. Remember that "potentially problematic door" I posted a photo of? I asked her if the fuse box for my room might be outside in the fire escape area. Turns out I was right... But this suggestion of mine kicked off a series of discoveries that led to an interesting night for the whole flat.

When Lauren tried to unlock the "potentially problematic" fire door we realized that the lock had been broken, and that the door has been open to the outside world this whole time. All my jokes about setting up a lounge area in the room off of the fire escape? They weren't funny any more because we found that our unlocked fire door had left our flat open to anyone in our building. Adding to the sudden feeling of discomfort was compounded by the fact that it seemed a lot of other people knew they could get up here and took advantage of it.

When Lauren and I (followed by my flat mates, many of whom were awakened by the noise) went out into the hallway to flip my fuse switch, we found that someone decided that our indoor fire escape was a good place to do some spray paint artwork. The ghost of spray painted 11x17 papers in various colors littered the carpeting. Our mystery artist even left a can of red paint and their latest creation drying on the floor in front of my fuse box.

We turned the corner and found that someone had been smoking on our steps, and left us a little mess to clean. (Last week, many of us commented that our hallway smelled of smoke. Now we know why.)

It was midnight by now, and this whole situation would have looked very funny if it weren't for one problem. All this "vandalism" was done outside out top floor flat, so it of course would appear that WE did it. The fine for something like this is a few hundred quid, minimum.

But the only problem we could deal with at midnight was my lack of electricity. Now that we'd found my fuse box, we flipped the switch. Nothing happened. We did it again, and waited. Still nothing. Phone calls were made, drama ensued, but when the overhead light popped back on in my room, there was great rejoicing in the camp! Everyone shuffled back to their rooms, I thanked Lauren profusely, offered to buy her a bottle of wine for her trouble, and settled down to complete my homework.

Before she left Lauren promised to talk to the building owners on our behalf regarding the mess and mysterious broken lock (and hopefully get it fixed so we aren't giving everyone free access to our flat).

All was well it seemed. That is until I found that despite my overhead light working, all my electrical sockets were still completely dead.

I called Lauren again, very apologetically, and we began searching for the mystery switch that would turn my power sockets back on. The noise of Lauren and I talking alerted all the room mates that something was up, and soon they were all awake and gawking at the cigarettes and spray paint.

My room mates were understandably of freaked out about the unlocked fire door, and tempers were rising about the mess. But none of this was as pressing a concern to me as the fact that nothing seemed to be turning my power sockets back on. With everyone's permission, Lauren and I shut off the main power to the whole flat. Sitting in the dark hallway, lit only by emergency lighting, what could you do but laugh at the situation? "Wow, you broke the flat the first day of school," someone said to me. Heh, whoops.

It was 12:30 or so, and I was getting a little punchy. I was finding that my concern about not having power was slowly being outweighed by concerns about the fines that we would have to fight when the building managers found out about the mess our mystery friends had made.

All the girls seemed to be getting progressively more upset about the spray paint on the floor. The lovely piece of artwork that our mysterious artistic friend had left to dry seemed to be egging them on. I think a few of the girls were feeling very exposed and victimized, what with the door to our flat unlocked and broken. So I decided to do something that would make us all feel in control again, and redirect our collective anger back to the place where it should have been. I grabbed a dark marker....

... and let them know that we were somewhat annoyed.

I really hope the artist comes upstairs looking for their paint cans and art piece soon.

I guess my punchiness had rubbed off on everyone because as soon as I emerged from my room with a pen announcing my intentions, my flat mates grabbed their cameras to record me being what was later termed "the flat's guard bitch" and "the mean one" and "the girl who starts shit". (It was suggested that they get me a "guard dog on duty" sign for my door. "Why not just put a nice big welcome mat outside our unlocked fire escape door?" I had said. "What, so you can beat up anyone who comes through?" they'd giggled.)

We never did get my power turned back on. I am writing to you now on battery power while the wine buzz wears off. At 1:00am we ended the evening with a lot of shrugging, and a "who needs wine and cookies?!" comment that brought about, well, wine and cookies.

So maybe I started some shit with the people below us. But you know what? Fuck them. I am pissed that their actions might cause a very expensive fight with the building owners. I am completely prepared to follow this through, too. If the people downstairs want to fuck with us, the flat's "guard bitch on duty" is happy to confront them. In fact, I suppose I already have. And the whole mess will be reported by a Senior Resident who was there to witness the situation and who took photos of the whole thing. Let the fun begin...

If all goes well, an electrician will show up tomorrow around 8am to fix my room's power. And maybe the door to our flat will be locked before anyone can try to retaliate for my little note. (Hm, maybe I should have considered that before I wrote on their artwork, hm?)

...you know, I never did get this homework done....

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