Photo credit: Michael Dwyer/AP

On Saturday, my housemate tried cooking some zucchini, only to realize that our gas oven wasn’t working. We looked around for a pilot light but couldn’t find one. Some googling led us to believe we have an electric igniter system that needs replacement, and also that our oven was manufactured in 1991 and there is no online manual. After texting our landlord, a repairman will be coming out tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully we’ll get a brand new oven.

Yesterday I went into my bedroom, and noticed it was pretty cold. My bedroom is always cold, though, so this wasn’t too out of the ordinary. I went on a run, and when I came back it was really cold. All of the steam radiators in the house were cool to the touch, and the other tenants in the building told me their units were also cold. Once again I texted my landlord, and spent the night under three blankets, one of them electrically heated.


This morning, two guys came over bright and early to repair the boiler. It is working again, but they weren’t able to figure out the cause of the shutdown. They taught me which button, amidst a scary-looking mess of wires, to press to hopefully reset the boiler if it turns off again.

In related news, Washington D.C. is under a winter storm warning. Where I live, in the District proper, we are expected to get anywhere from two to seven inches of snow tomorrow (down from huge predictions a few days ago), and some places further out will get over a foot. Given this area’s well-chronicled inability to deal with snow, this all but guarantees Tuesday and Wednesday will be shitshows. The oven repairman ain’t making it out tomorrow afternoon, and if the boiler breaks again I’m on my own.


Which is all fine and well. I live in a 112-year-old house and pay a fair rent. Shit happens, and when it does, my landlord is responsive and it gets fixed. My only gripe is: Why does this always have to happen on the verge of a snowstorm?

Last January, a third of the country got hit by Snowzilla. Twenty inches of snow dumped on my doorstep, paralyzing the city for almost a week, forcing it to put tens of millions of dollars worth of snow removal on city credit cards. It was all great fun—I played outside with my dogs, walked down the middle of a usually very busy street to one of the few open bars, and felt like Lewis and Clark wherever I went outside—except the fucking boiler broke overnight right before the storm hit!


The quickest my landlord could get a repairman to come out was two in the afternoon, so he sent us to buy space heaters from Target for the building on his dime, in case the boiler couldn’t be repaired on time. The snowstorm hit in the early afternoon, and the repair company pulled all of their trucks off the road. Some frantic phone calls led us to a local repairman who lived nearby, and he managed to fix the damn thing. I walked him to his truck with a shovel, to dig out the inches of snow that had already accumulated while he was giving us heat.

Later that night, the water stopped working. The fire hydrant in front of my house has leaked for as long as I’ve lived here, with a new crew outside seemingly every other month trying to solve the problem. Whatever was wrong was compounded by the snowstorm, necessitating an emergency water shut-off, and crews working on it as the storm raged around them. I don’t remember exactly when the water came back on, maybe after a couple of hours? Enough to disrupt my dinner, but not my day.


Anyway, in each of these instances—except, probably, the oven—the problems were fixed relatively quickly, without any more pain than a night spent shivering. I was—and will be, tomorrow—just some sad sap riding out the snowstorm in a relatively comfortable and equipped home.

And yet I am alarmed at fate’s insistence on owning me every time the weather turns dire. Will I wake up tomorrow to a home with no electricity, or perhaps—horror of horrors—no internet? Will a gas leak snuff the life from my body while I sleep, before I get to enjoy any snow-day activities? I guess we’ll see.