Some folks call them quirks. They’re all those little things that don’t work quite like they should, and usually we don’t encounter the same quirk twice. I’ve lived in a lot of places, and each of them had little nuances of their own, distinctions indigenous to that particular home.
I’ve been in my apartment since the first of October, and I’m still figuring some of these things out. I now know that not all over-the-door hangers will fit every door in the place. For space savers, I bought three of one type. That type fit one door but not the other two. That little adventure cost me several returns and a small fortune in gas mileage to get the project right. Which tells me that not every door in my apartment, even though they are identical, has the same spacing between them and their facings overhead.
Figuring out the little things that make this apartment unique from every other place I’ve ever lived has been both intriguing and, I’ll admit, a little frustrating. When the upstairs neighbor moved out, she was kind enough to pass down her fairly new window air conditioner. Maintenance put it in the window for me while I was at work one day, and they expended all sorts of time and attention to seal it against the weather. My discovery after work that evening was that the cord was too short to reach the nearest outlet.
That’s when I noticed that there are no outlets under any of the windows in the entire apartment. I guess that’s not such a big deal, and I can certainly buy an air conditioner extension cord at the hardware store. And so I did. I was in Lowe’s looking for something else when I stumbled across the very one I needed. I scooped it up to accompany my other purchases.
Even though it’s winter, I wanted to go ahead and at least put the extension cord onto the air conditioner’s cord so that it wouldn’t end up packed away someplace where I would only be able to find it if or when I ever moved out. I unwrapped it from its protective twisty-tie state, pealed all the paper off, and attached it to the air conditioner’s pre-installed cord. The nearest outlet was behind the stove, so I draped the cord behind it while I leaned in close, trying to get my head between the stove and the wall, being careful not to bang my precious scalp on the kitchen cabinets in the process. I must’ve looked like an expert billiards player the way my body was draped over the counter.
I could see the outlet, and yes, it looked like it would work just fine. Except that both the stove cord’s plug and the air conditioner cord’s plug were both turned the same way. Either would fit, but not both at the same time.
I’ll revisit that issue come late spring.
The biggest frustration has been how the oven, regardless of what’s inside or at what temperature, sets off the smoke detectors. One of them speaks. If you can remember and imagine clearly the last time you heard the digital voice at the DMV announce robotically, “Now serving C4, at window number 3,” then you have heard my smoke detector. Only instead of announcing kindly that it is now someone else’s turn, it tells me instead, between shrill bleats of ear piercing noise, “Fire. Please exit the building. Fire. Fire. Fire. Please exit the building.”
I was only reheating a slice of pizza. Nothing was burned. There was no smoke. And yet every time I turn the oven on, for whatever reason, temperature, or length of time, the smoke detectors get excited.
I have three of them.
When I first moved in I wanted to roast a duck. It was to be a small treat for myself for possessing the ability to pick up, dust off, and move on. Not quite celebratory of the events, but more in acknowledgement of them. It was only a small duck. To do it the way I like requires five hours of slow roasting and intermittent yet frequent turning, slowly rendering the fat, and piercing the remaining fat with each turn. I thought I would put a fan in the living room window, facing outward, to make sure the smoke detectors didn’t wake up.
There’s no outlet under my living room window. The fan had to sit on top of something out in the living room floor and just do its best to aim carefully at the open window. Only once did I have to open the doors and fan a dishtowel under each of the three detectors to silence them. The duck was worth it though, all crispy and tender, and with a cherry sauce I’d made to go with it. I even made some bread stuffing. I figured since I already had the fan situated in the living room, it couldn’t hurt.
Mostly, though, for everyday purposes and convenience, I just use the microwave.
As long as I don’t push ‘start’ while the refrigerator is running, everything works fine.