Conversation with Dahlia via text:
Me: What about water situation?
Dahlia: Emailed about it.
Dahlia: Waiting to hear back.
Me: By the way, can’t flush toilet. No water left in tank.
Dahlia: Did you put water in the bucket and do a firm swooshing motion?
Me: Swooshing? No idea what you mean. What bucket?
Dahlia: Have you done this before?
Me: How hard can it be?
Dahlia: You trying to manually flush a toilet? Don’t see it going well.
Me: Seems easy enough.
Dahlia: But things have a way of defying your expectations.
Me: Point taken.
Maslov’s hierarchy of needs. I remember learning about it in some course I took way back when. There’s this pyramid, at the top of which sits “self-actualization,” which has to do with reaching one’s full potential. If and only if every other need has been met (I think) can a person hope to achieve his full potential.
If so, I’m fucked. At least for the foreseeable future. At the very least until someone turns the fucking water back on.
A quick assessment of current conditions has me situated far below the pinnacle of self-actualization. I’m stumbling around in the basement of Maslow’s stupid pyramid looking for a light switch. Good luck chasing the next great American novel when you can’t wash you hands after you take a shit, can’t flush the toilet either. (Too much information, I know.)
The problem began last night, right around the time I turned on a faucet and… Nothing, not a drop of water issued forth. That’s funny, I thought. I checked the washing machine, saw a strange symbol flashing. I opened the lid to see what was happening, and wouldn’t you know it? The clothes were still dry.
A sinking feeling. Well, this isn’t good, I thought. Then I went to the bathroom and turned on the shower, hoping against hope… A trickle, nothing more.
“Well shit,” I muttered. “Wonder what that’s about.” Then I yelled to Dahlia in the next room, “Hope you weren’t planning on taking a shower tonight.”
“Why? Whats’s going on?”
“Just a little problem with the water?”
“What’s the problem?”
“We have none.”
“Wait. We have no problem or no water?”
“No water. We have no water. That’s what I’m trying to say.”
“Well that sucks.”
Does this happen often? I wonder. Is this a thing in Taiwan? How long exactly is it going to last? And who do I call to find out? I ask myself these questions and many others. I’m nothing if not inquisitive.
But it’s morning now, and I have no answers. And I still have no water. Safe to say someone somewhere turned off the tap for some odd reason. That’s all I got.
This is a grave matter, one of basic hygiene. Skipping a shower or two in this climate is inadvisable. I inhabit a body poorly conditioned to the tropics. No amount of cologne will conceal that fact for long. Vanity makes this my first concern, above other trivial concerns like washing dishes, flushing toilets, and doing the laundry.
But what to do? [He shrugs.] Add it to the growing list of things I haven’t a clue what to do about.
The basic problem is that I don’t speak Chinese. Not yet anyway, and not anytime soon. It will, in all likelihood, be months before I can utter a basic sentence, and many months more before I can actually make myself understood—and that may prove to be blindly optimistic.
So for the time-being, the language problem is solved by asking myself this question: Who can we find to help solve this? Dahlia’s working on that, which is the best I hope for. The second best is to wait it out with my fingers crossed.
In the meantime, I’m trying to put aside the headaches and hassles, trying to take it all in stride, reminding myself this is all part of it. This is what happens when you move to an unfamiliar place, especially one where you find yourself linguistically and culturally illiterate, decidedly so.
And in the grand scheme this teensy tiny infinitesimal problem of ours is hardly worth the mention. I can hardly justify the expense of emotion. It would be nice to take a shower though.