A leak that took seven years to fix - no wonder I hit the roof!

She was told not to worry her pretty little head about it, but Ailin Quinlan knew something was amiss in her home...
A leak that took seven years to fix - no wonder I hit the roof!

ONE JOB LEADS TO ANOTHER: Now her leaking ceiling has been fixed, Ailin Quinlan needs the ceiling repainted!

IT’S an undeniable truth that we all tend to see things through our own, rather narrow lens, but sometimes life treats you to the odd flash of insight, either about yourself or someone else.

I was in my local petrol station and for once had pulled up at the correct side of the pump so I wouldn’t have to be straining the pump lead over the car-roof like I usually do.

While filling up, I noticed a large new sign on the front of the pump. You could now pay for your fuel by credit card apparently.

I finished with the pump and started looking for the slot that you put your credit card into, or maybe a little screen that you press your card against to pay. I walked around and around the pump but I couldn’t see anything. No slot, no screen.

An enormous silver BMW jeep thing pulled in at the adjoining pump, coming nose-to-nose with my Toyota. A smartly-dressed woman descended. I called out to her, pointing to the new sign and apologising for delaying her, but said I couldn’t find the credit card mechanism on the pump. I was probably looking straight at it, I admitted. Could she see it, maybe?

She stared at me very, very coolly and then looked at the pump.

“There is nothing there,” she said in the tone of voice you’d use to explain something to a three-year-old. “That is not a pre-pay pump.”

I pointed again at the sign on the pump that said you could pay by credit card. “But it says...” I protested. She interrupted me in an extremely brisk way.

“You pay by credit card inside the shop,” she said in a coldly surprised way.

“Oh, I feel so silly,” I said, smiling. “I do apologise.” She didn’t bother to answer, just looked down her nose and turned away. We went to the door of the petrol station and parted; me to the cash register, she to the coffee machine.

At the till, I explained my confusion to the young, friendly assistant. She laughed. Then she stopped. “Oh God, I shouldn’t laugh,” she said, laughing again, guiltily. The new sign, she explained, still grinning, was to help petrol customers who were in a rush. There was now a special credit card facility at the back of the shop for motorists who wanted to pay for fuel only.

Basically, instead of having to join the queue at the cash registers they could just use that machine. In the shop. Not on the petrol tank.

“God,” I said, “I feel such a fool.”

“Sorry again for laughing,” she said, guiltily.

“Don’t worry one bit about it,” I said.

Then I realised the snooty blonde woman had not used the petrol pump at all. She had merely parked her enormous vehicle in front of it, because it was a convenient spot to stick her juggernaut while she went into the shop for a takeaway coffee. Now she stalked out of the premises holding the coffee and climbed back into the vehicle, ignoring the two motorists who had since arrived and were now waiting in a queue to use her pump.

I might be a bit of a twit, I said to myself as I drove out of the forecourt behind her, but at least I’m not an a**hole.

My misunderstanding about the petrol pump sign was not unusual for me.

It is a truth universally accepted in my family and amongst certain friends that I am not particularly practical. When it comes to tools, gadgets, tech, mobile phone-to-car audio set-ups, malfunctioning washing machines, lids that won’t come off jars, or batteries that have to be positioned just right before something will work, I am not your woman.

However I was the first to spot the small but sinister brown stain on the kitchen ceiling. This was seven years ago. I pointed it out to the various highly practical, technically and mechanically adept members of the household. I was ignored.

The mark slowly expanded. I nagged more. Eventually, some investigative trips took place into the attic where, despite my protestations, nothing was deemed to be out of order.

Over the years, the little brown mark gradually turned into a large, phallic-shaped stain. Again I pointed it out to the practical members of the household.

“There’s a leak,” I said coldly, when they had all stopped laughing at the shape and size of it.

Someone went up into the attic again. Nope. Nothing to worry your pretty little head about, they said.

Along comes autumn/winter 2022 and the unremitting rain. Weeks and weeks and weeks of one deluge after another. One day I looked up at the ceiling again. Now there was a second, rather large brown stain. I drew it to the attention of those-who-know-all. Don’t worry about it. We’ll get to it, they said.

A week or two later, there was another, smaller round brown stain. Then one day I found water dripping from the ceiling onto the floor of the kitchen.

“That ceiling is going to come down on top of us,” I screamed.

This time it could not be denied that something was amiss. The attic was again investigated by now very serious-faced males. Meanwhile, I waited for the ceiling to collapse.

They found the leak, they reported a while later. They sealed the leak, they said, later still. There was much applause among themselves.

A few days later there was another heavy downpour. A routine double-check in the attic found a different, smaller leak. This time scaffolding went up. This time slates came off the roof. More work. More sealing. No more leakage, I was assured.

Booted, woolly-hatted, gilet-and-fleece-clad males clapped each other on the back in appreciation of the rapid and competent repair work they had carried out. Tea and buns were called for.

“Seven years, that’s been going on,” I said sourly, slapping the mugs on the table. “I wouldn’t call that fast.”

I’ve decided to wait a while before explaining that the ceiling - and therefore the kitchen - will have to be repainted.

Revenge is best eaten cold.

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