It’s Freezing. I’m Sweating. Here’s Why.

| February 6, 2015

I am sitting in a house with no heat.  It’s my own fault.  As cold as I am, I am sweating my ass off.  It’s my own fault.  Here’s my day, in a nutshell.

First, we need to start with this: my husband has asked me on and off, for the past few months, whether I’d ordered oil yet.  Our house runs on oil.  Our water is heated and our radiators run on: Oil. I have no idea how many pieces of paper in this house have read, over the past few months, “Call for oil.”

Also, you need to know an entirely separate piece of information: I recently entered some appointments into my phone under Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).  I don’t know when, I don’t know how.  Yesterday, I noticed that my phone said that my daughter’s upcoming parade meeting time started an hour later than I knew it to start.  That’s when I realized it had been entered under GMT.  I fixed it, had a good chuckle, and then tweeted “Not cool when you accidentally enter appointments in ur calendar under (GMT) and you don’t live in that time zone

I did not catchthemAll.

Rewind to Monday.  On Monday, I called for oil.  I knew we were really needing it at this point. The woman said they’d call back with an appointment, or when the guy was in my area.  It sounded like it was a next-day-or-two kind of thing.  Last night (Thursday), Paul realized that we were out of hot water.  He went to check the water heater, which was flashing red with the error message “Störung” (literally a dysfunction, like the one his wife has).  The radiators stopped radiating heat.  My husband walked around attempting not to actually murder me.  This all transpired 6 minutes after the oil company closed, so I was unable to call them and ask them to bring oil today.  I set a reminder to call them when they opened at 0730 today.

Paul set up our two tiny space heaters, in our bedroom and in Sequoias.  It’s actually impressive how well they heat a space.  I donned footsie pajamas (thank God I am a childish human being) and went to bed.  I was up by 0200 because I am in the middle of passing a kidney stone.  It all began on Tuesday when I became too dehydrated.  Last night it came to a head.  Do you know what’s unpleasant when you’re going to the bathroom?  A lack of heat. Every half hour, I had to leave the warm bedroom, walk into the ice chest of a bathroom, unzip my footsie pajamas, and sit shivering on the toilet.  It was awesome.

I woke this morning and watched the clock.  The alarm went off when I was to call the oil company (you were probably thinking it didn’t go off on time? – it did).  I called and got one of the crotchety delivery men, not one of the office folks.  He has a thick Odenwald accent and my Deutsch is schlect, so we had a misunderstanding when he was looking up my address.

Him, in German: Name?

Me, in German: Martindale (pronounced correctly, then Magh-teen-dah-lay, then spelled in German)

Him, in German: Wohnort?

Me, in German- expecting him to ask for address but confounded because of his accent: Excuse me?  My German is not good.

Him, in English: Country.

Me, knowing he meant city: Dieburg.

Him, in German: Street?

Me, in German: (street address and then) – Oh, you said ‘Wohnort’ before

Him, in German: Ja

We moved on.  There was no misunderstanding when I told him about the error message.  He told me I had no oil, and I told him exactly, I know, we have no heat.  He said they’d call me when someone was coming.  Temperatures have been in the twenties, so they know people need oil.

At 0830, my cleaning lady showed up.  I told her there was no heat and then asked if she would iron and sew something for me at her house and then bring it back.  She gladly accepted.

At 1100, I decided I did not want to risk there being no oil tonight; I called the oil company and told them I just wanted to make sure oil is coming.  The man offered an appointment for tomorrow morning.

Me, in German: Uh…we have NO heat.

This guy, in German: No heat?  He will come between 1200-1400.

It was about 1200 when I called my cleaning lady to see if she was finished with the work I’d given her.  Our doorbell is on the fritz.  I’m missing all kinds of people because of it–including her, today, when she’d returned.  She walked back to the house and gave me my things, which she had sewn beyond expectations.  Instead of a glued seam like I’d created this week, Sequoia now has actual, sewn seams on her costume for the parade on Sunday.

Sequoia and I planted ourselves in the dining room, in the warmth of a sunbeam, to watch for the oil man so I would not miss him.

What is wrong with my mother?

What is wrong with my mother?

At 1300 my phone beeped, informing me that Sequoia had her trial drum lesson at 1330. SHIT.  I’d totally forgotten.  No oil man yet.  I called Paul at work and left a message for him to call me immediately upon returning to his desk.  The phone rang and I answered it:

Me: “You love me?”  

Paul: “What did you do?”

Paul immediately left work so that I could leave a note for the oil guy, run Sequoia to her drum lesson, and Paul would be back before me so that if the guy arrived, he would have only a few minutes to wait.  With packing tape, I secured to our gate a note in German, stating that I would be back in a few minutes, I was driving my child to the music school in town.

Sequoia and I headed to the music school.  Sequoia: “You seem like you’re driving faster than usual.”  I was.

We arrived at the music school at 1335.  That’s where we found the drum teacher, who had been waiting for our arrival at 1230.  I looked in my phone.  Time zone: GMT.  SHIT.

We made our third appointment with this guy (originally the lesson had been scheduled for last Friday, but Sequoia had a fever for 6 days straight, so she missed it and we rescheduled it for…1230 today).  I was, shall we say, flustered?  When I entered the new appointment in my phone, which he had just set for 1500 this Monday, I began to enter it as 1230.  Fortunately, I said that out loud.  The poor guy (a millennial who plays the drums and therefore has probably missed an appointment or two in his day)…well, let’s just say I could see on his face some very serious doubt that I would be showing up on Monday at 1500.  He walked over to a white board and wrote “1500 = 3:00.”

Sequoia remained silent throughout this ordeal, except to answer his questions about her piano lessons.  When we got to the car, she flung open her door and shouted, “THAT’S THE SECOND DRUM LESSON WE MISSED.”

As I sped home, I called Paul to see where he was.  He had arrived at the house.  No oil guy yet.  My friend Bettina called to tell me that she had not looked at the costume materials for her son’s parade group this Sunday, and now sees that she has to find pompoms to sew on it.  I’m feelin ya.

I parked the car and left the gate open for the oil guy to be able to drag his hose across the driveway to the house.  I came inside to greet my patient, patient husband.  I recounted my day to that point.  Sequoia yelled that Flash wanted out.  I let him out.

At 1400, I called to ask about the oil, which had not arrived.  I got the same guy I talked to at 1100, who said, Yes, the oil deliveryman would come, but he had to return to the station and probably wouldn’t arrive until 1500.  Kein Problem, I assured him; I just wanted to make sure it was coming.  I assured Paul that it was coming, then grabbed some things to take upstairs to work on the computer.  I didn’t make it to the stairwell before I yelled, “SHIIIIIT!”  

Paul: What?  What happened?


I ran from window to window, whistling Flash’s whistle.  Paul realized what was happening: I’d left the gate open for the guy.  And then I’d let Flash out.  And then Flash, who loves to take little fucking vacations around the neighborhood, got out.  I physically dropped everything that was in my hands, threw on my down-comforter-of-a-coat and fur-lined boots, and ran out the door. Paul put on his shoes and walked out to the driveway to sorta look for Flash, but still be there if the oil guy arrived.  Normally one might think it too cold for my dog to be running around outside for any length of time, but really it was no colder outside than it was inside.

I ran up the street, whistling Flash’s whistle.  A man who drove past me as I was running and whistling, pulled into a driveway ahead of me just as I arrived to the same spot.  As he got out of the car, he watched me run back and forth at the fence line, yelling for Flash, whom I had spotted but who was not visible to the man, who stood staring at me as I yelled at the yard in English.  Flash came trotting over to the fence, I lifted him out, the man had a look on his face like I was a fucking lunatic, and I carried the damn dog home.

I grabbed my laptop and positioned myself at the window looking out on where the truck would pull up.  And that is why I was, when I began typing this, sweating.  I am no longer sweating. Before long, I was back in a winter scarf and an extra pair of socks.  The oil man came.  He was one of the nicest people ever.  He gave me oil and most likely saved my marriage.  The heat is supposed to kick on any moment now.  Paul asked me how much oil I bought.  “I’m not sure.  I think 4,000 liters?  But I don’t know how much that is or how much it costs.  I’ll just wait for the bill.”

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Category: In Germany A Broad blog

About the Author ()

Kari Martindale is a writer and ESL instructor. She’s visited all 50 states and 37 countries, including many of the big cities of Europe and a ton of Christmas Markets. She spends her days straddling the fence between a sense of adventure and a sense of dread. She is married to what is clearly a patient man and has a daughter who, frustratingly, is just like her. Her academic and professional backgrounds are in linguistics and foreign languages. When she's not teaching ESL, she's writing. When she's not writing, she's thinking about her next trip.

Comments (1)

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  1. Lauri says:

    I seriously read this so fast and had anxiety for you!! Love it! Well not that it happened, but that you can write about it now and hopefully laugh(in a warm home)!