Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Thrill a Minute

All I wanted was a bit of hot tea. Really, it was 7:25 this morning and all I wanted was a spot of tea. Was that so much to ask? Apparently. I guess the restaurant gods had it in for me this morning.

While my computer was pulling down the overnight emails from my server, I went to make a cup of tea as I am wont to do daily. I've been off of coffee for a while; I guess I'm just bored with it or with our selection of exactly one kind.

Anyway, I went to get some hot water from the dispenser tap on the coffee maker and all I got was a dribble. Not good and so much for my plans to get anything positive accomplished today. I remembered that last night our sous chef was cleaning up a coffee spill—would you be surprised to learn that we make coffee without a pot under the brewer nozzle at least once a month?—and I warned him that the machines are hard-connected to copper and not very mobile. I asked him to be very careful not to pinch or break one of the supply lines.

This all flashed through my mind in an instant and I might have cast some mental aspersions and/or epithets in his direction. Sorry. I had to turn on all the lights and move a whole bunch of stuff to trace the copper water tubing. It sure seemed intact.

I then thought to check the water on the bar gun which comes off the same supply tube. No water. OK, I figured that he shut off the valve on the supply line for some reason. Nope, it was wide open. Major aspersions and epithets now as it looks like this might not be a trivial problem. Into the kitchen, and you're already ahead of me here, no water at all.

It was too early to call anyone about the problem and none of the other businesses around me were yet open to see if the problem were isolated to my building or if it were a more general problem. I know for a fact that the City is working on something in the street just down the way.

At 8 am, I called the City and managed to get to the Water Department just as someone was arriving. She was very nice and was concerned that they might have turned off the water yesterday as they did a bunch of cut-offs then and the management company for our building is notorious for not paying the bill until the City shows up, wrench in hand, to disconnect the water.

We decided that it probably wasn't likely that the City disconnected the water between late last night when I left and 7:30 this morning, but that it was a good idea for someone to come over and check for a break in a main. Very nice and very responsive she was, a pleasant surprise in dealing with the City.

Minutes later, one of the guys from the Water Department came through the front door and told me that the meter had not been disconnected. I nonplussed him with the question, "Yeah, but is there water at the meter?" I followed him out to the meter to see, and I could hear before he got the cover off the meter access hole that water was screaming through the meter. I don't think I've ever seen a dial rotate that fast in all my life.

Clearly we were dealing with a break in the line between the meter and the restaurant. I ran to the back of the building where the basement stairs are located to find that the neighbors have constructed a new deck blocking the doorway. Nice neighbors, huh? As I got the door open, I could hear water pouring out into very deep water. Cruddy, but better than an underground leak in the supply main coming into the building.

The landlord and his plumber were pretty responsive and the problem was repaired at 11:55am. We opened for lunch at 11, unable to make any soup or boil any water for pasta. And we used our entire supply of alcohol swabs cleaning our hands. But, we got open with some water that we cadged off of the very understanding neighboring coffee shop.

The first table was a regular customer and he was understanding that we couldn't brew his usual iced tea. The second table that arrived at 11:50 was miffed that we had no iced tea. I would think that it is easier to be understanding than to be miffed about something over which nobody has any control, but noses out of joint they did have. Par for the course.

Fortunately, we got the lines flushed, the tea brewed, toilets flushed, the pasta water hot, and generally back in action before the bulk of the lunch traffic.

Yes, the restaurant business is a thrill a minute—and I never did get that cup of tea.

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