Monday, 3 February 2014

I'm profounded - I mean confounded - words matter.

I received a lesson in the importance of precision in language today.

Back in May, during a period of very wet weather I told my real estate agent that I could hear dripping in the ceiling. There was no reaction. Three days later I had water running down one of the walls in my bedroom. The light fitting was sparking as the electricity met the water that was running through there.

A (very handsome) electrician came and dealt with the electricity - in the ceiling - and left a gaping hole in my heart ceiling. Since then I've had no light in the bedroom and a gaping hole in the ceiling. I have taken to wearing a miner's lamp when I'm selecting my wardrobe for the day.

This happened seven months ago.

People sprang into action last December and decided that the week before Christmas was a convenient time to pack and remove the contents of the apartment, remove the ceiling, replace the ceiling, paint the bedroom and restore the contents. I had other plans thinking that my recent five week absence would provide the perfect opportunity.

Things don't always turn out the way we hope. I won't bore you with the details, but I arrived home to be confronted with packed boxes stacked in the lounge room, bedroom and the entry to the bathroom. And I brought suitcases which also needed to be unpacked. It was 42 degrees Celsius and I had to start work the following morning.

You can imagine the conversations I've been having. I'm writing everything down so they can feature in the absurdist script I'll produce one day. One of them involved the agent advising me to "just follow your normal routine". What am I? A rat in a box maze? She clearly thinks I'm insane. Or some kind of contemporary artist making a statement about some aspect of society as I turn my place into a piece of performance art. Shame I can't sell tickets. There's nowhere for the patrons to stand. I've rigged up a periscope so I can watch television. That's the only activity I can reasonably accomplish - unless I consider moving boxes around to be a leisure activity.

Anyway, the precision of language...imagine my initial surprise when the agent shared an email telling me that she had advised the insurance person and the owner that the flat is "inhabitable". After some thought, I decided she was right, but there was something off about the tone of the email.

Today I received another email telling me again that she'd told the insurance guy that the place is "inhabitable" but also that he shouldn't take her word for it and would need to see for himself.  Again, I had a nagging worry that she actually was using the wrong word.

I had to find out, but was unsure how to ask without causing offence.  I settled on asking if she meant "inhabitable" as in I can live there or "uninhabitable" as in I can't live there.

Her single-word response came: uninhabitable.

I imagined the insurance agent being moved to even higher levels of frantic inaction with the vehement statements that the place is inhabitable! Any wonder nothing much has happened in seven months.

Considered with the correct understanding, the email from the agent became even more ridiculous as it finished by stating "the place is [un]inhabitable and the insurance agent is aware of that so just wait and see what happens"!

Lucky the roof wasn't blown off! Imagine what "urgently waiting" feels like when you've got bigger problems than not being able to coordinate your outfit or needing to use a torch when you make your way to the bed. Add some boxes into the pathway and you've got added excitement at bed time.

My response in this situation is to initially get angry, then I go floppy and then I start looking for comedy to exploit. I can't even drink as an activity because I've given up alcohol for February as part of Feb Fast.*

Oh and I'm also taking legal advice.

* See how hard it is! I'd love you to sponsor me and support programs for young people who suffer from addictions

1 comment:

  1. I know a place you can rent in Knoxfield if you need it!!