Today’s post comes from Renee in North Dakota.
The agency at which I work is housed in a six-story former college dormitory built in 1964. There are sixteen offices on each floor along with a large secretarial office and central waiting room. The building has one elevator.
The bathrooms are located on the east and west sides of the building. There are 26 bathrooms in the building, four on each floor and two in the basement. The building is owned by our local college, which is responsible for upkeep and maintenance. The age of the plumbing and water problems made the college completely upgrade the plumbing and the bathrooms. We have been set upon by construction workers and plumbers for the past two months.
Construction began on the west side of the building in November, with the complete gutting of all the bathrooms on that side and the removal of all the old pipes and oddly placed sinks and defunct showers from Sixth Floor to the basement. We have to use the bathrooms on the east side of the building. You can imagine the noise, dust, and commotion, and how the elevator has been tied up with carts full of debris and gross-looking iron pipes. It is hard to administer a test for attention and concentration when it sounds like dinosaurs are devouring the building and there are crashes and drilling and pounding above and below. The workers have been really great to work with though, and we have developed a nice camaraderie with them as we pack into the elevator together. It was with the arrival of the plumbers that things have become somewhat more challenging.
The plumbers don’t communicate real well with either the construction workers or Joanna, our administrator responsible for agency-construction company interface. She has had to contend with unexpected water outages, odd and toxic smells, client complaints, and recently, explosions. Last week the plumbers, for their own nefarious purposes, decided to pump air into the new pipes on the west side of the building. Somehow, the air also went into the old pipes on the east side of the building, with some pretty spectacular effects. When flushed, the working toilets responded with crashes as loud as rifle shots and rapidly swirling torrents of water. Joanna was in a bathroom on First Floor. When she flushed, the water exploded high in the air like Mount Vesuvius, drenching her and the walls and the ceiling. The lead carpenter asked her how she liked the new bidet on First Floor. She was not amused. I don’t know what she said to the plumbers.
Once the west side bathrooms are finished, the east side ones will be completely removed and the space turned into storage closets. There is trouble brewing, though. The architects insist that the new bathrooms will be handicapped accessible. Our nursing staff tried to get a wheelchair into one of the unfinished bathrooms just to make sure. The space is too small to get a wheelchair in and close the door. The fixtures aren’t even in the bathrooms yet. I think we are in for a long construction season.
How have you navigated your way through construction zones?