Semi-Functional Living and a Worker Warning

Bad blogger.

I fully admit it… every time I go on vacation I spend some time thinking about all the future posts that I can share from the trip, but when I get back I pretty much die. The latest U.S. trip was no exception to that. I had good intentions of posting quick pics from along the way, but when you only go “home” every year and a half, the internet doesn’t rank high on the priority list. So I find myself woefully behind on posting, responding to comments/emails, and reading all of the other fun things that I follow. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles. So I do have plans to share some of the many, many, (too) many things that we did, but it might not be in the next 10 minutes…. please bear with me.

Keeping with tradition, I’ve spent the last 10 days being incredibly lazy/comatose. This trip was action-packed and there were things to do nearly every day. BV accompanied me, which was awesome and a lot of fun, but since it was his first time in the States, I wanted to make sure we saw as much as possible. That didn’t leave a lot of room for down time. In fact, the list was so long that we didn’t have time for everything. More importantly, there wasn’t time for everyone, which is unfortunate. There were a lot of people that I didn’t even try to get in touch with, because I knew it wouldn’t be possible. The expat curse continues.

When we got back, Germany was in the middle of a heat wave, with temperatures in the 90s and the humidity through the roof. The only good part was that I was so exhausted, I had no desire to do anything except collapse on the bed when I got home. My apartment was too hot to function, so the less movement, the better. A couple of days later we got a pretty epic storm that broke the heat, and since then it’s been in the 60s and raining. 

Hey, German summer? You suck. Get it together. 

Today is actually a fairly decent day, and I’m typing this on my balcony because it’s sunny and at least 15 degrees warmer than inside the house. But I’m still wearing socks, pants, and a hoodie. Less than ideal at the end of June, but at least I’m not melting. A happy medium would be great… not sure if it’ll happen but here’s hoping. 

BUT weather is not what I want to talk about. Instead, I’d like to offer a little public service announcement to all the other expats or wannabe expats here in ze Deutschland, about workers. In your house. And why you should probably babysit if you’re planning on having any repairs done.

For those of you that saw my House Hunters International episode and were concerned about my apparent lack of bathroom, I do have one.* This is what it looked like when I moved in….

Pink. Very nice, right? Honestly I didn’t love the color, but that paled in comparison to the other issues. I’m not sure whose bright idea it was to start putting wallpaper in bathrooms, but I am firmly against it. My bathroom had that lovely pink tile about two-thirds up the wall, and then a faux-plaster wallpaper up to the ceiling. My landlord knew that there would probably be a problem eventually, as the previous owner had repapered and retiled, but just put the new stuff over old paper and tiles. Great.

After a year or so, I started getting a lot of mold on the bathroom ceiling, no matter what I tried. Windows open a lot, a little, closed, shorter showers… no difference. I cleaned the mold off the ceiling, but eventually it got to the wallpaper. The final straw was when a whole corner of wallpaper fell off, and my suspicions were confirmed. More mold. This was gross. 

My landlord and I discussed options, and he decided to just go ahead and renovate the whole bathroom. After talking to an assortment of workers, he found one who was willing to do it on short notice while I was in the States. So the day before I left, I turned over the key and then flew off. 

This is best-case scenario, right? A whole new bathroom, without being inconvenienced at all! Score. There must be a catch. And don’t worry, I found it.

The last day I was at home,  my landlord called me to tell me that the bathroom was finished…. perfect! So Tuesday morning, I arrived back in Nürnberg, completely bushwhacked from 15+ hours of traveling, but excited to see my house. Oh, and to sit down and relax. 

We dragged the suitcases up the four flights of stairs, opened the door, and said. “What. The. Fuck.”

(this is kind of anti-climactic, and I’m sorry. I was too annoyed to take a picture for posterity.)

So this is what my living room looks like when it’s clean….

That’s pretty much what it looked like when we left. I had cleared out the bathroom for the workers, and put the rack full of toiletries into the living room. There was also a drying rack out, with a few laundry items that weren’t quite dry before I left. But other than that, clean. Because I hate coming back to a mess. Fail.

When we walked in, it looked like a bomb had gone off. Everything was off of the bed, and on the couch, semi-covered with the mattress protector. The contents of my hall closet (jackets, BV’s bike stuff, scarves), were thrown on the floor in the corner. The coffee table was shoved up against the desk and covered in odds and ends (some of which were not mine). The suitcases, laptop bag, and some boxes from under the bed were also thrown in the corner. The old radiator and mirror from the bathroom were sitting in the middle of the floor, along with some buckets, the vacuum cleaner, and a step stool from the kitchen. And everything, everything, was coated in a nice layer of plaster dust.

Bottom line: All I wanted to do was collapse on my couch and relax, and I couldn’t find my couch.

Apparently this is what happened. When the workers were installing my new shower cabinet and/or moving the hot water heater from one wall to another, they accidentally went through the wall between the bathroom and living room, right over my bed. That meant they had to make a bigger hole, and then replaster the whole thing. My landlord said he saw it, but I don’t know if he didn’t think the mess was that bad, or just didn’t want to mention it over the phone to me while I was on vacation. Either way, I was incredibly annoyed to come home to this. Just what everyone wants to do… spend their first three hours at home cleaning. Right? No.

When I relayed this story to my students, they all just nodded their heads and said that if you have workers in your house to do anything, you should stand there and watch them the whole time. They also said it’s standard procedure for them to not clean up after themselves. Call me crazy, but I think that’s some serious BS. Even if I wasn’t out of the country, it’s not like I could stay in the house while they were renovating because a bathroom is a pretty essential thing to have around. They were also supposed to remove everything from the old bathroom, and the fact that they forgot the old heater and mirror (which is big and heavy), is now my problem. They’re out here on the balcony with me now, so if you know anyone who wants an old-school radiator, feel free to drop me a line. 

I do think the new bathroom looks fine, if a bit (a lot) generic. It pretty much looks like every single bathroom in every single company I’ve taught in here…

Hopefully this new tile and paint job is a bit more mold-resistant. The workers also didn’t put the light fixture back on, instead they left it in the kitchen, so I only have a light bulb right now. They also didn’t install a TP holder, or any towel rods, so I’m not thrilled about that. Drilling holes in the brand-new bathroom is not on my list of things to do. 

Oh, and speaking of the kitchen… they also removed my broken dishwasher, and installed a new washing machine. My landlord had told me that he was thinking about it so he could give up my little washing machine room in the attic, but I was a bit surprised to see that he just went ahead with that too. So the kitchen was also a disaster area, and some of my kitchen towels were apparently casualties of the renovation, but at least I had a shorter walk to the washer to clean everything else. 

SO. Even here in Germany, land of order…. do NOT fall prey to the best-case scenario. If you’ve got guys coming into your house… keep an eye on them. And the next post will be of more fun, vacation-y things. Just had to get all this off my chest.

*I suspect none were shown on the show because they were all miniscule and/or claustrophobia-inducing. Trying to fit three “hunters” plus the camera and sound guys inside was pretty entertaining.


12 thoughts on “Semi-Functional Living and a Worker Warning

  1. “they accidentally went through the wall between the bathroom and living room…” How does that even happen? WTF!!

    I'm so sorry you had to go through this. I know what it feels like to come back to your home abroad and things are NOT the way you left them. It's sh*tty feeling. At least nothing was missing, right?

    Enjoy your summer and recount us with your stories when you get a second to breathe! Sending you a warm hello from Paris!

  2. Whaaat? How did they “accidently” go through the wall? Sorry you had to come home to that.

    I'm with you on the weather… it was 15°C here last week and today it's supposed to go up to 28°C. I would much prefer the happy medium too.

  3. Right? It was unpleasant. However, I have since learned (from my friend who was watering my flowers), that it was much worse mid-project. I'm not sure how that's possible, but that's what she said!

  4. Damned if I know. Like I said, I think it was either during the shower cabinet installation, or the moving of the heater. Either way, uncool.

    Thanks… I'm just happy it was a short(ish) cleanup, nothing compared to your disaster if I remember right!

    You too! Hope Paris is a bit nicer than Germany, although today is decent. Looking forward to your summer shenanigans and getting caught up on your end of the internet. 🙂

  5. No clue. But I have a nice patch that ruins the symmetry of my walls and pains me to look at. Haha.

    German summer is out of hand, it needs to pick a side and stay there! (As long as it picks the warm side. If it picks the cold side I might just move to Italy.)

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