Turn on the water works

Human beings have a remarkable capability to adapt to new surroundings and situations. However, instead of this enabling us to conquer any circumstances and triumph over all adversity, in the case of students it usually seems to mean we can adapt to feeling short-changed by any situation. En suite students in Alcuin will manage to find just as much to complain about as the kitchenless masses in Langwith, because we adjust to what has been provided for us, and then whinge accordingly.

All of which makes it even more of a shock when something that millions of people take for granted goes wrong. Clean, safe, running water may still be a dream for many, but for those of us who’ve never known life without it, plumbing problems are a nightmare. My first real moment of homesickness during my Fresher year came when our hot water abruptly halted. As I boiled the kettle for the third time to wash my hair, the comforts of home had never seemed so distant. Halls, however, are by no means as bad as a ‘real’ house. In halls, just like when you were at home, plumbing problems are inconvenient, but it never falls to you to sort them out.

There’s nothing like a flooded kitchen greeting you in the morning to spurn you into genuine adult decision making. Staying in all day waiting for the plumber still feels like playing ‘house’, not least when his arrival makes you feel like you’re in a bad ‘70s sitcom. And I use ‘his’ here deliberately. I’m sure there are plenty of female plumbers out there, just I’m yet to meet one, and am also yet to meet one that hasn’t thought of me as an especially stupid little girl. This problem is exacerbated by the sheer hilarity of negligence that can be found in some student housing when it comes to the water. One house I had the pleasure of residing in, termed ‘the house that Jack built’ by one jovial plumber, had the remarkable ability to flood whenever the water was turned off at the mains.

Explaining this occurrence to already condescending plumbers became a chore, until I would eventually give up and resort to simply standing in the kitchen with my mop ready and letting them work it out for themselves. Ultimately though, the vast majority of us live in accommodation that is more than sufficient, and of considerably nicer quality than we would have faced a few decades ago. It’s just difficult to remember that sometimes, and extremely easy to moan instead.

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