Fahrenheit degrees, that is. Last night it got down to -17.
This morning I woke up to discover that, despite having a) left two faucets dripping, b) double-checked to make sure the heat tape switch was on, and c) having left a heat lamp plugged in underneath the trailer, my pipes were frozen. Apparently, according to my landlady, I need to leave the faucets not dripping but running. Thank God I don't pay for water by the gallon. It strikes me as greatly ironic that here in the high desert, where we're going into the eighth straight year of drought, where the total rainfall last year was under 7", that I can have all the undrinkable water (much too alkaline for human consumption) I want for $35/month.
Luckily, I am not a morning showerer. Actually, I am not even a daily showerer, which is good, because despite the balmy high today of 9 degrees or so, and despite my landlady's daughter coming over to plug in a space heater under the trailer, my pipes are still frozen. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. . . .
After deciding that it wasn't worth making breakfast (and thus creating more dishes I might not be able to do), I thought I'd head over to the coffee shop and get a muffin and a latte. So I loaded up my stuff and headed out to the car, which–you guessed it–didn't start. So I thought, well, I'll go see if someone can give me a jump-start. I called my coworker to say I might be getting to the library a bit late. Then I remembered that, due to the lever falling off and then disappearing, it's extremely difficult to open the hood of my car. Usually it requires vice-grips, or other tools I don't own. (I keep meaning to buy some vice-grips–it's so embarrassing to have to ask someone else to open your hood so you can check your oil.) I grabbed some needlenose pliers (I do have some tools) and gave the little rod a yank. No luck. I tried again. No luck. The one happy part of this story, though, is that on the third try, I got it, and the hood popped open.
I headed over to my neighbor's house, since it looked like he was warming his truck up, so I figured he was up and could probably give me a jump. He was, although, I was rather surprised to see, he was not exactly clothed when he came to the door. No matter. Anyway, he got dressed and came over with the truck. We then had an interesting time manuevering the truck around to the front of my car. Another happy part of this story is that that did work, and he didn't crash his truck into the fence. That would have been bad. So we tried jumping the car. No go. Tried again. No go. Tried giving the car some gas. Nope. More gas. Nope.
"Is that all the gas you have in there?" he said.
"Uh. . . yeah."
"You know you–"
"I know, I know, I should always keep my gas tank above half full in the winter. My mommy always told me that."
He suggested I get some gas and some Heet and try again later. He also very kindly gave me a ride into town. I had him drop me off at the coffee shop, since it's only a few blocks from the library, and I still hadn't had breakfast or coffee.
So I got my coffee and my muffin and told all the coffee shop regulars about my sad tale, and my friend Shane said, "Where's that handyman boyfriend of yours when you need him?" and I said, "No kidding," and Shane said, "He could be there right now fixing stuff for you!" and I said "Yup," and we both sighed, because said handyman is also Shane's friend, and he's gone to rural Virginia for probably most of this year, and that makes both of us, and many of our other friends, sad.
I finished my coffee and headed up the hill to work (it was now up to -4 degrees), where I told my coworker my tale of woe, and called my landlady, and got back to weeding. I withdrew half a dozen books about global warming from the mid-1980s to early 1990s and remarked that it's kind of amazing that people treat climate change as if it's a new idea. Then I got rid of a bunch of true crime books and called a woman who said she'd be interested in them if we ever got rid of some, and that seemed to make her day.
And I got a call from the library director, who said that we are going to get some old furniture that is not nearly as old as our old furniture, and that we have a lot of money in our account at the foundation, so if we want, we could buy morne furniture. Or books. Or computers. Or whatever. So that was really happy.
Just before she was about to leave, my coworker got a call from her daughter, who was driving back to college (and was almost there, in fact), and had just been in a car accident. No one was hurt, but the daughter was pretty freaked out. My coworker talked to her for a little while and said "call the police" and "it's going to be okay" and "that's why you have liablity insurance" and all the other things like that that you said. Then she said to me, "If my daughter calls again, tell her I'll be home in ten minutes."
The daughter did call again, and I relayed her mom's message, and then I added, "You know, I have wrecked many, many cars" (well, not that many–but I did total a Volvo station wagon (mine) and put a huge dent in a BMW (someone else's).
The daughter said, "Really?" and I said, "Yeah. I know sometimes it helps to hear that from someone else." And she said it did.
And then Shane picked me up from work, and we stopped at the gas station so I could buy a new gas can (because I couldn't find the lid to mine) and some Heet and some gas, and I got home and put the Heet and the gas in my car, and it started right up, and I ran it for quite awhile and then drove into town to fill up the tank and get some water in case I need to flush a toilet or something, and then I came home, and then I called my mom. And I said, "You know what? I had this huge catastrophic day and I handled everything just fine and I didn't call you in tears once–and I even got to console someone else who had burst into tears."
And damn, do I ever feel like a grown-up.