“Small leak from main cock-stop tap next to bathroom sink,” read my contractor’s email, sent a few days before my arrival in Paris. It was just a short sentence under the heading, A Few Small Issues. “Plumber had to action it to do his installation, and with time it grips up.” Cock what? Action what? With heart in throat, I reread the sentence, trying to make sense of what sounded like a very big issue. “Plumber back in September,” he wrote.
September? It was August 22nd!
When I arrived two days later, I indeed found a tiny puddle by the water main (i.e. main cock-stop tap) in my bathroom. The leak was so slow you could barely perceive it, but it seemed to emanate at the valve the plumber “actioned” to shut the water when he put in the new sink. Maybe my contractor was right about it being a small issue; it looked manageable enough. When he assured me the pipe could be patched temporarily with some putty until his plumber returned from vacation, I was satisfied.
But the leak had other ideas. While I was blithely shopping for bedding at the Bazaar Hôtel de Ville, I received a troubling call from my carpenter, who was doing odd jobs around my place. “The leak is much worse,” he said, urgency pressing on his words. The putty he tried to apply seemed to anger the pipe. “You’re going to have to deal with it right away. I have to go home now.”
Wait a minute—I was going to have to deal with it?
Let me paint you a clearer picture of my hell: I was leaving for New York on Wednesday. This was 5pm on Monday, and I was yet 30 minutes from home. It was also August when most businesses were closed for vacation, and even my management agency had only a skeleton crew. My French: woefully deficient. I became hysterical right there in the middle of the bedding department in BHV. “You can’t leave me with this!” I screamed into the phone. Turns out, he could.
By the time I arrived home, my entire bathroom floor was under water, my wood flooring within inches of watery doom. The only handy solution: my brand new Egyptian cotton towels from Habitat, but there was no time to think about that. I wiped up the floor then dashed down the street to Franprix to buy anything absorbent I could carry—a mop, two 3-packs of paper towels and eight giant sponges—which, owing to the store being out of large shopping bags, had to be carried in my bare hands. This amused a guy sitting at the cafe on my corner who chuckled at my misfortune from behind his beer. “Fuite?” he asked, smirking. Yeah, very funny, asshole. But at least now I knew the word for it. Leak: la fuite.Find out what happened next in Under Water (Part Deux)