I woke up this morning feeling like I did yesterday — “Yeah! I’m getting my money back today! Soon this whole thing will be over!” And, just like yesterday, I sat in anticipation of the door bell or the mail slot, while McDonald’s morning time, then noon slipped by. At 1:45 I called Nick the plumber. “I’m in the middle of something, I’ll call you right back, I have your number in my phone,” he said. So I sat by the phone. Soon it was 2 p.m. and I hadn’t eaten yet, so I took my phone into the kitchen and made lunch. Then I watched an entire episode of The Vampire Diaries while eating lunch. Still no phone call. What are the etiquette rules of “I’ll call you back in a minute” and an hour passes? I let it go until 3:30 and then I called again. “Oh, I’m right around the corner, I’ll be there within the hour! See you soon!” a rather chipper Nick the plumber replied. Once again the “Yeah! I’m getting my money back!” excitement returned.
And then an hour passed. Then two hours. I was getting antsy — I wanted to do my workout video and take a shower. At 5:45 I said screw it and did my workout anyway. Then at 7 p.m. the doorbell rang while I was in the middle of curling my hair. “Finally!” I said out loud and rushed to answer it.
It was Stephen, coming home from work early.
At this point I was coming up with all kinds of crazy scenarios for why Nick had not come by or called. Was there a plumbing emergency in Parliament and all London plumbers were required to help (and turn off their phones?) Did Nick get into a car accident on his way around the corner? I hoped not. I also worried that he had slipped an envelope of cash into the wrong mail slot, making one of my neighbors very happy. Was this guy’s sense of timing so skewed that he thinks 7 p.m. is in the morning and “within the hour” means over three hours? I decided to stop speculating and called once again.
“Can I bring it by tomorrow morning?” he asked. (Hmm… Where have I heard that before?) He said he’s had a very busy week and hasn’t been home before 7:30 p.m. every night. Even Stephen beat him home today. I guess it makes sense that he’d rather make money than give it away to the stupid American girl who was gullible enough to give it to his bloke in the first place. (Side note: when I asked Ted what the relationship was between Nick and the guy who actually did the plumbing work, he said he’s his bloke. “OK, so I just call Nick and say…” …”his bloke unblocked your sink,” Ted finished my sentence. But I’m pretty sure Americans aren’t allowed to say “bloke.” I settled with “associate.”)
I decided to be nice to him and said tomorrow would be OK — he even told me it’d be around 9:30 a.m. (which in Nick the plumber time probably means 1:30 p.m.) I asked him how much money I was going to get, since I didn’t want to get my hopes up and then see a tenner float through the mail slot. He told me he still had to “sort it out.” Which made me think he had no intention of coming today, and that “I’m just around the corner!” business was a bunch of blarney.
Yes, this is what real life in London is like, kids — hanging around the flat waiting on a bloke to bring you a yet-to-be-determined amount of quid that was actually yours to begin with. It’s not all rides on the Eye and high tea with the queen.