Recently, our boiler broke down irreparably for two weeks. The manufacturer was so disorganised that they took all that time to fit a new one.
It may not seem much to do without hot water in the summer, but we couldn’t even wash our bodies without boiling a kettle for a basin of hot water—ugh! We couldn’t even wash the dishes without boiling a kettle to fill the bowl. We had to travel to my mum’s house for showers/ baths every so often, which was inconvenient and time consuming for both us and her.
But the worst thing was the feeling of being out of control—some small people against a large, faceless company. In the Western world we are all spoilt and used to having anything we want, day or night, at the click of a button—this situation was a shock to the system.
For these weeks, a shadowy and unhelpful organisation was in control of how we felt, acted and went about our lives. We felt different to the other families in the area, going about their business not knowing we were struggling, feeling smelly, sweaty and dirty, although I did tell other playground mums about the situation and they sympathised but could not help.
What if we were an immigrant family, or elderly, or not intelligent enough to know how to contact the company in question, or find out information about them, or phone the Trading Standards consumer organisation? Would we have been left unknowing for months on end, as the weather grew colder and we had no central heating in autumn and winter? It was all uncertain and unsettling.
It was a stark reminder of what it must be like to be at the mercy of uncaring strangers, in a foreign land where you don’t know what to do. Or homeless, trying to keep clean with no hot water available.