Just below our bathroom, in the storage closet of the apartment of the second floor, there was a gentle tick, tick, ticking of water dripping into a plastic tub. The neighbor had already visited our apartment to make it clear that this was our problem, not his. (His apartment is owned by a different landlord.)
We were not convinced, especially after talking with a friend with plenty of renovation experience. However, he forewarned us that the plumber would blame the problem on whoever would pay the bill: the foreigners.
My roommate called our landlord who sent us down the street to talk to his friend who came over and buzzed our neighbor. They had a long conversation in high decibels without resolving anything.
We waited for the plumber to arrive at 2:30 as scheduled. At 3:30, we visited the neighbors to tell them that the plumber wasn’t coming today. At 4:00, the plumber arrived, unconcerned that he had largely missed his appointment.
He checked our bathroom, the neighbor’s storage closet, and then predictably told us it was our problem.
“Fine,” we said. “Tell our landlord.” And we handed him the phone.
Several hours later, the neighbor was happy because the problem was fixed, at least temporarily. And the plumber was happy because he walked away with a pocketful of money.
Only my roommate and I were not so pleased because our European and American perspectives groaned at the inefficiency of a warm culture workforce. The gentle tick, tick, ticking had cost us an entire afternoon and evening!