Many people have told me that guinea pigs are not only pets but alarms. Their alarms go off when it’s time to eat or when they are uncomfortable. I’m not sure if Fred and Lamont are unique but other things also set them off. The boys will start to walk around nervously and chitter at the air if a bad storm is nearby. I’ve had them huff at the door when someone was just about to knock. So, when I hear the boys being nervous at night, I always check it out. Quite often, it’s just bad weather of one type or another moving in… but not always…
The other week, the boys started in at three in the morning. I knew the boys were trying to tell me something. They had an urgency to their wheeks. I fought off sleep and got out of bed. The house was a bit chilly and I threw a blanket over my shoulders. Fred wheeked more urgently at the light. “Yeah,” I yawned, “I can turn up the heat a bit… Let me *yawn* check over there first *yawn*…” I walked over to the boy’s area to check their warmth. Their area was fine. In fact, the area under the towel was a bit toasty.
Fred exited his snuggle sack and began to dance around at my feet. “Really?” I sighed, “This is all about food? At three am?” I walked over to the fridge to get some lettuce for my brats. Then I heard it. There was a gentle moan. No, a gentle hiss of some kind. Fred wheeked loudly with it. “Shhhhhhh” I admonished him, and then added, “What the bleep is that?” Of course, Fred didn’t answer. Lamont whined in response to my question. “That doesn’t help…”
I walked towards the source of the noise…the bathroom. I had an inkling of what was making the noises but didn’t want to consciously acknowledge my thoughts. I opened the bathroom door and was greeted with a blast of cold air. “Gwaud,” I gasped at the breeze. My bathroom is on two outside walls. It can get cold in there. The heater had given up. It felt like it was stone cold dead.
I pulled the cover tighter over my shoulders and went into check the heater. It was blasting hot but making no difference in the temperature of the room. Suddenly the whole room seemed to moan. “Oh, no…” I gasped, “That’s the pipes… Poop!” I went over to the sink and turned on both the cold and hot water. It flowed freely. “Huh,” I said and stuck a finger under the flowing water. It was ice cold. I turned off the cold water and the flow stopped. The hot water pipes were frozen. With my realization, the pipes groaned again.
“Fred,” I called from the bathroom, “I found the problem… Tell your brother it’s just the pipes…” No response. I went over to the tub and turned on the water. Again, the cold water was fine but the hot water was frozen. This was not good. The pipes were frozen and making odd noises. There was nothing I could do but call for the maintenance guy. I left a firm and choicely worded message with the service company. MG was good and called me back 15 minutes later:
KA: “My hot water pipes are frozen and making odd noises…”
MG: “Ya, I got the message. Doesn’t surprise me…”
KA: “Why not?”
MG: “Well, it is 2 ºF outside and still dropping…”
KA: “Ya, that’s the other problem. The bathroom heater can’t keep up with it.”
MG: “Ok, well I’m at another unit dealing with burst pipes.”
KA: “Burst pipes? OY!”
MG: “It’s a mess. You’re fourth on the list after this one for frozen pipes.”
MG: “It’s cold.”
KA: “Fourth? Oh, come on…”
KA: “When do you think you will come over?”
MG: “As soon as I can…”
KA: “Fine. But the guinea pigs aren’t happy. They may bite your ankles.”
MG: “I’ll hurry up then; I don’t want them to get mad at me…”
KA: “That’s a good idea… See you…”
The maintenance guy and three of his cronies showed up at my apartment later that evening right when the pipe situation reached critical. Let’s just say their visit involved a lot of cursing, banging, a possible exorcism, a hasty retreat, and a blow torch. But, that’s part two of the story…