Monday, March 23, 2020

The Doorbell

After being at home for four days in self-isolation, I decided to sanitize my doorbell. It was really wishful thinking, because nobody’s supposed to visit me and I have no deliveries on order. It was also restlessness: cycling through WhatsApp, Email, FaceBook, and Youtube got a little tiresome and made me antsy. I found a nearly-full spray bottle of some cleaning product and a clean cloth under the kitchen sink, put on rubber gloves and went to work spraying and scrubbing. Not surprisingly, the doorbell rang in response to my efforts. And rang And rang. And kept ringing. A note about my doorbell: it’s a bird chirp, installed by a previous resident at least forty years ago. You should note that I like old things, because one of the reasons I made aliyah was to connect personally to history, and this apartment is full of those connections.

Continuous doorbell chirping is not a way to connect to history, and it's also not my favorite background noise, but my repeatedly pushing the doorbell did nothing to stop it. I considered cutting the wire from the bell to the birdhouse, but feared electrocution, so instead I decided to turn off the circuit breaker for the doorbell. First I went to the kitchen to find the circuit breaker map a kind electrician had once drawn for me. This required searching through the drawer containing all the instruction manuals and receipts for every appliance I ever bought (I save stuff like that, for my Time Capsule), while the doorbell continued chirping. Finally I found the map and carried it to the circuit box out in the stairwell.

Reaching the circuit breaker box requires a certain height over the staircase. As I have shrunk with age, I now have to stand on tiptoe to reach it, while learning over the staircase from the landing. It occurred to me that I might fall down the stairs during this procedure. Then I stop to wonder, if I die falling down the stairs to turn off a circuit breaker to make the doorbell stop chirping because I was sanitizing the doorbell to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, would my death count with the WHO as a Coronavirus death? With this thought in mind I leaned and tiptoed very carefully and switched off the circuit breaker. The chirping stopped. Proudly I returned inside, closed the door and proceeded to check what else was shut. The bathroom lights. No problem, I can find the bathroom in the dark. The hot water heater. That would mean I might have to listen to chirping for ½ hour to heat water in the morning. Doable. The washer and dryer are also located in the bathroom. They don’t work either. Well, no laundry needs washing just now. Perhaps in a few hours the doorbell will have dried out and chirp only when pushed? Wait and see.

A few hours pass quickly, thanks to WhatsApp, Email, FaceBook, and Youtube. Once again I risk my life to stand on tiptoes and reach the circuit-breaker, this time to turn it back on. No noise! Push the doorbell. Only one chirp! Yay! Check the bathroom. Lights work. Check the hot water heater. Heating light goes on. Check the dryer. Drying starts. Check the washing machine. Nothing. Uh oh. It’s a machine I bought one year ago, and foolishly paid for an 8-year warrantee. In theory, I am entitled to call the service company to come and find out why my washing machine doesn’t work, or I could call a kind electrician to come and do the same thing for money, but in reality I can’t do any of those things because, even without Coronavirus restrictions, it’s Thursday night. What I can do is think about how to get my laundry to a neighbor’s machine when I'm not supposed to leave my house.

Next morning (Friday) I go to check the washing machine again and it works! Why? Because sometimes broken electric and electronic things fix themselves if you give them the time they need. But after the weekend...

...On Monday I needed to do laundry and sometime during the washing I saw a lot of water on the bathroom and hallway floor. A small survey of the back of the washing machine showed that when I had checked the washing machine on Thursday night, unplugging it and re-plugging it, I accidentally knocked the water drain hose out of the drainpipe. A mopping up operation ensued. The cycle of events would have been complete if the doorbell had gotten dirty again.

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