Shabbos comes in; peace at last. My wife is delighted to finally relax for a bit in the bright, air conditioned dining room after a long day of cooking and rushing about our small CH apartment. The kids are content and find toys to enjoy beside the couch. The multiple gourmet dishes, resulting from my wife’s hard work that day, are keeping cool in the fridge and warm on the electric blech nearby. All seems perfect and with a hearty “Good Shabbos”, I leave for Shul looking forward to returning with our guests.
I come home to a starkly different scene than the peaceful one I had left not even one hour prior. The baby is screeching having not had his bottle, my wife is tense and exasperated, our toddler is sweaty and frightened, my guests are tripping over stuff unable to see by the light of a mere few candles. It’s hot. It’s dark. It’s devastating. And it’s the eighth time this month. Our building has lost electricity — yet again, each time lasting hours on end.
‘Grin and bear’ was a reasonable command the first time we experienced the power outage in the building on Shabbos, June 26. The heat was sweltering and unbearable. Our food was spoiled in no time. But surely it was a surprise for the landlord as well and we waited out the 20-30 hours for the electricity to be restored. It was Shabbos for him too, he couldn’t possibly have been prepared for this. Sure, Mr. Landlord, we’ll excuse you although it would have been nice if we didn’t have to wait until late Sunday to bring our 98 degree apartments back to breathable levels.
This happened Sunday, July 4, Thursday, July 8, Sunday, July 11, Wednesday, July 21, Shabbos, July 24, (it’s 100 degrees outside), and Shabbos, July 31 – 22 hours of no power, and still no signs of hot water returning.
How many times can you continue to throw out fresh food just purchased and watch your hard-earned dollars rot in the garbage? How many hours can you sit in limbo waiting for lights, fridge, AC and computer to come back to life? How many days can you pack up a family in the dark and spend money on accommodations while paying serious rent? How can you watch a baby cry for a bottle and be unable to provide due to an unpowered urn? And how can you possibly endure when your calls to the Super, are ignored and unanswered, providing no sign of impending help? For how long must you guard your exasperated fingers from pushing those 3 buttons, 3-1-1.
I’m tired of landlords taking advantage of good tenants and getting away with inexcusable repeated behavior. I’m sickened by the lack of responsibility and accountability by our very own. I can’t understand. And I can’t allow my family to lie sleepless in escalating temperatures for much longer.
It’s no longer a game. I don’t pay rent to gamble on electricity and jeopardize the safety and health of my family. When crisis strikes, I need help – can 311 answer my call?