One of the things you expect when living in an apartment that was never actually intended to be permanent housing is that things will go wrong. What you don’t really expect is to have your kitchen floor inflate like a balloon when the air conditioner turns on. Such was my experience with my apartment and after attempting to feed myself within this culinary moon bounce several times I called to get a new floor put in. What happened next is a cautionary tale, demonstrating the dangers of poor prior planning, combined with an irrational respect for the power of police tape.
Monday morning I decided that before any workmen arrived, I needed to give my abode a serious cleaning. Months of accumulated papers, electrical gadgets, power cords, plastic cups, and books coated every horizontal surface and several of them that were nearly vertical (I impress myself sometimes with my ability to make my own life both more interesting and vastly more difficult simultaneously). The majority of the day was spent tidying things, re-organizing the bookshelves, vacuuming (or “hoovering” for all you quaint British readers out there), and doing my long overdue laundry. At the end of a long day I was finished, and quite satisfied with the results.
Within twelve hours it was all for nothing, however, since the men replacing the floor needed to get all of the kitchen appliances out as well as clear out the closet I use to store things that I may (but probably won’t) ever use. This meant that the apartment I had so thoroughly cleaned the day before was now covered in first aid kits, plastic bags I wanted to re-use in a vain attempt to be “eco,” and assorted miscellany I threw in the closet to avoid having to decide what to do with.
All this leads us back to the kitchen floor. Previously, the floor had been covered with a sort of vinyl faux-lineoleum which looked like wallpaper for the floor. This time, however, it was being replaced with actual tile, which meant that I was going to be banned from the room overnight while the cement-mortar stuff they use to stick tile to the floor (obviously I am not a very “handy” person, or I’d know what it was called) dried. At this point it would be a good idea to mention that all of my food is stored in a closed that is almost as far away from the door as you can get along the wall to your left as you come into my kitchen. Now, any normal person with a fully functioning whatever-the-part-of-the-brain-is-that-controls-prior-planning would have simply thought “I should get out all the food and dishes and such that I need to eat for the next day and a half before the workmen get here.” I, instead, thought “I should grab some grapes.” And so I did.
The next morning the work crew arrived and began dismantling the kitchen. My refrigerator was moved outside and plugged in on the porch, like the way rednecks do when they want to have a refrigerator used entirely to store beer. The stove and table likewise ended up outside and any food left in the kitchen was either in the closet or on the counter (also on the far side of the room) in the case of things like bread. At no point did the thought cross my mind that this was a problem. Instead, I sat happily on the couch and munched on grapes like a Roman Caesar.
Several hours later, the majority of the work was done and the workmen began to pack up for the night. However, the floor seal was still wet, so to remind me not to walk around on it, they put police tape across the door to the kitchen. About the same time they left, I ran out of grapes and it began to dawn on me that I was an idiot. Over the next several hours a small voice began to nag in my head, reprimanding me for not bringing more food out of the kitchen before I let the workmen in. This small voice gradually evolved until it became exactly like this herd of condescending cows.
I began to contemplate ways to retrieve food from my kitchen. The problem was, all I could conceivably get to was the food on the counter, since the closet was likewise sealed off (to keep the food from walking on the floor?) I surveyed my options. A sack of potatoes? Useless without something to cook them in (or on). A bunch of bananas? No more fruit, I’d had enough of that. What I was really craving was…yes! There, on the counter was a loaf of bread. And right next to it, unplugged, was the toaster. A plan began to form in my mind…a really stupid plan.
I grabbed the longest thing I could find, which was a stubby broom handle about 4 feet long, and to this device I affixed a paperclip, which I had bent into the rough shape of a hook. Thus armed, I approached the tape. Prying two strands of the police line apart, I stuck my head and one arm through and began to reach for the bag containing the loaf of baked goodness. Due to the shortness of my tool, however, I failed to reach it. Thus began about a ten minute process of doing everything within my power to reach the bread. It was pretty much one of those moments any good film editor would just relegate to a montage.
Finally, I snagged the bread on the tip of my paperclip and managed to wrangle it through the tape and into my arms. I took a moment to celebrate quietly by silently dancing (after making sure all the windows were shuttered) and then set about retrieving the toaster. By now I’d worked out a strategy by which I could reach the counter with my hookbroom. I leaned up against one side of the doorframe and propped myself up in the air by pushing my leg against the opposite side of the frame. I then held on to the top of the frame and leaned as far as I could into the kitchen. On the first try I snagged the toaster and yanked.
I had forgotted about the crumb tray. Toast crumbs spilled everywhere as I pulled the toaster into my arms. The workmen would think I’d been in the kitchen. They’d send disapproving glances in my direction the next morning when they came back! I had to act. I snagged my vacuum cleaner from behind me and began shoving the hose through the police tape to suck up all the crumbs. The last two feet of floor space I had to use the hookbroom to sweep the crumbs close enough for the vacuum to get them, but in the end, I managed to get all the crumbs.
The next morning, happily munching on unfortunately butterless toast (you take what you can get, I guess.), I greeted the workmen, who were none the wiser to my bizarre adventure the night before. They put the kitchen back together, and now I’m free to eat once again.
I got another bag of grapes and went back to Caesar-ing.