When an apartment listing says something along the lines of 'quaint' or 'historic,' beware.
The electrical wiring set up in my apartment building actually predates the birth of electricity. I don't know how they managed to do it - they being whatever schmuck designed the damned place - but they did.
It's very easy to overload the system, at which point the lights cut out and I'm left searching for the door out so that I can find my meter, which is where I can reset the circuit breakers and thereby turn my electricity back on.
Since the electricity is billed separately for each apartment, if I overload mine it doesn't take the whole rest of the building down. So at least I'm not hurting anyone else.
After three years of living in this 'classically Chicago, historic courtyard apartment,' I've managed to figure out a method of calculating what I can get away with. For instance, if I want to run a vacuum cleaner, I can turn on my window AC unit but I cannot put it on high and still have the TV on simultaneously nor can I use my microwave. Et cetera.
So last night I had an improv class and afterwards thought I might go socialize with a couple of my classmates. I got back to my classic Chicago rat-hole of an apartment a little before 1:00 and decided that nothing would go better with what essentially turned out to be a pitcher's worth of Pabst Blue Ribbon than a couple of microwavable frozen White Castle cheeseburgers.
Don't judge me. It was almost 1:00 in the morning.
I had the AC on and I put the lovely little morsels in the microwave and let it run. And then, momentarily forgetting the intense amount of calculus necessary to avoid losing my electricity, I decided on a whim to plug my phone in to charge.
Sudden darkness. Quaint, quaint darkness.
Is it so wrong that I would like to microwave food and charge my phone in the comfort of an airconditioned apartment all at once? Is that really too much?
Anyway I fumbled around my room for my phone. Then I used the light from my phone to fumble around for my flashlight. Then I fumbled out the back door and down the stairs to where the electric meters are. Or, were.
You see, as it turned out our steam heating system predated heat. I don't know how they did it - the same they who fashioned our antiquated electrical system out of string and hair product - but they did. So the rental agency who owns our building decided to switch to electric baseboard heating. I'm not sure why, but this necessitated removing all of our electrical meters. Theoretically, the electrical company is supposed to replace them months ago.
But I forgot all of that. Which means that I was standing around in the room where the electrical meters were supposed to be but were not, wondering what the hell to do now.
Call the building supervisor? Tried that. Left a message.
When I was a kid, we used to lose power at our house all the time. My parents turned it into a game by lighting a bunch of candles and then gathering us all in the kitchen so that we could play board games together. I would have obviously rather been playing Mario Bros. 3 at the time but, as that was not an option without power, board games were not a bad way to cope with the situation. It was like camping, but in a good way.
Current Nat has no board games and, as he lives in a studio apartment, has no roommates to play board games with even if he had one to play.
All Nat had was half-warmed White Castle cheeseburgers, a cold shower and an AC unit that doesn't work without electricity.
So I opened all of my windows as far as they would go, set my phone alarm hoping that two bars' worth of battery was enough to get me through the night and, for lack of anything else, attempted to sleep under the weight of the historically muggy second floor air.
I had very quaint dreams last night. Maybe three hours worth of them.