We Have Heat!

(Written December 2011) Three months ago, when we arrived, it never once crossed my mind that I’d be begging for heat. But in a mere 10 weeks, the outside temperature has dropped 60 degrees and thanks to our acclimation to desert climates, waking up to temps in the upper 40s makes for a chilly morning! Couple that with a sudden realization this past weekend that the heat for our second floor doesn’t work, resulted in the family (felines included) spending most of the weekend on the first floor in layers under blankets.

My husband put in a request to have our heat fixed first thing Sunday morning (the workweek here is Sunday through Thursday). They showed up a few hours later and after five minutes on the roof, came back in carrying a curled metal piece, which I will call the heating coil (no idea if that’s the proper name, but considering things, it works for me). They explained that it was broken, but they could get the new part and would return in two days. The next day, they showed up again, with the new part. (Making an appointment in this country to have work done at home is proving to be an impossibility – typically they just show up and you hope you’re home, or in the case like this, they actually make an appointment, then show up early/late regardless and again, you hope you’re home.) I was just happy that, a) they showed up, b) they appeared to have the new part, and c) I was home. So things were looking up.

They tromped back up to the roof again and about five minutes later one of them returned. “It’s all fixed,” he told me. He set the thermostat and then looked to me as if to say, that’s all there is lady, now let me out. I had no intentions of keeping him hostage (though that’s a definite possibility considering our stupid front door), but I was also waiting for his friend. “Is the other guy still up there?” I said motioning to the roof. “He’s going down a different way.” A different way? Like by parachute, suction cups, large springy shoes? Without a flinch, I led the one guy out and just assumed his friend met up with him somehow. In all honesty, I’m guessing he had an appointment with our attached neighbors, and just walked over the roof to their access door, but maybe I’ll go check for rope ladders, just in case.

I set the thermostat on heat and cranked it up to 80 to get it rolling. I kept waiting to hear that whoomp sound that let’s you know the central heating has awoken, but I never heard it. I did hear some rattling/hissing sounds coming from the nursery, and they were not connected to any of the felines, but despite the built-in white-noise, I still couldn’t feel any heat.

By that evening our upstairs was just as cold as it had always been and walking up the stairs was like entering a walk-in freezer. My husband made yet another call on Tuesday morning. And a few hours later, two more guys showed up; different guys (maybe half of the first set was still camped out on our roof?). These two shuffled up to the roof and were up there for quite a while. Periodically one or the other would come in and fiddle with the thermostat, then head back up. I futzed around upstairs and worked at my desk in the family room, so I could be within earshot if they needed anything.

At one point, just as one of them came in from the roof, I looked up to see the whole family room thick with a sooty smokey haze. “What’s with all the smoke?” I asked. “It’s just from the heat vents. We got it working.” Well, I was delighted for their skillset, however having our house filled with year-old dust and schmutz was not something I’d bargained for. I quickly opened a few windows, all the easier to switch out old dust for new dust, and checked on the cats whom I’d locked in the nursery. They were fine and there was significantly less haze in there. The family room and the master bedroom, however, were dense with the fine dust that coats every surface and clings to your lungs for days.

I managed to get it mostly “aired out” before my husband got home, and we definitely had heat, so all-in-all things were good. Of course, the evidence of an internal sandstorm was everywhere and each time we moved a pen or a book, we could see the distinct outline left behind in the soot. And when we attempted to blow the dust off, a cloud would rise up and then just settle elsewhere. This might need some professional help. Thank goodness for housekeepers (though this may require a bonus and a hazmat suit). Ahh, winter in Kuwait.