The humble water heater – essential and yet unappreciated. I hadn’t really thought much about water heaters before I came to Korea. If I wanted hot water in Canada, I turned on the tap.
My life in Korea has become (sorry Charles Dickens) a Tale of Two Bathrooms. Our hero Summer Bathroom, is airy and pleasant. Water is both hot and plentiful; bathing is a joyous occasion with Summer Bathroom. I’m quite certain I hear a chorus of angels every time I open Summer Bathroom’s door.
Winter Bathroom, our villain is the complete opposite. As the walls and floor are nothing but cement and tiles, the sub-zero temperatures outside make Winter Bathroom cruelly cold. The ventilation fan has been screwed into the window frame, making it impossible to close the window. Winter Bathroom’s temperatures hover between 6-12C. The only chorus I hear when I open Winter Bathroom’s door is the pop-pop-pop of my body exploding in goosebumps.
Enter our villain’s sidekick, the water heater.
As the seasons changed, and the temperatures outside dropped, so did the water temperature. The water in my shower isn’t icy cold, but it certainly isn’t even remotely approaching warm. I investigated all the wires, pipes and hoses coming out of the water heater. Everything seemed to be attached.
I attempted to decipher the control panel.
I called my new landlord. He came, turned on the tap, and out gushed steaming hot water. He left, the water turned cold. I called my co-teacher. She came, and so did the hot water. ARGH! Damn you, Winter Bathroom!
I taped up the window.
And invested in bathroom slippers and a stool.
The slippers keep my feet off the icy floor, and by crouching on the stool, I can get maximum coverage from the chilly stream pouring from my shower head. I think I can set new landspeed records for hair washing.
I realize of course, that this is a first world problem. I am blessed to have not only an unlimited supply of clean water, but a bathroom all to myself to bathe in. Hence the mantra I force out between clenched teeth as I shower:
[Gasp!] At least I have water. At least [shudder] I have …. dear God it’s cold….water.[shiver shiver, chatter chatter] At least….
Once I’m relatively clean, I wrap myself in 180000 towels and lie on my apartment floor. Whatever inadequacies my water heater possesses in the shower department, it is certainly well-endowed in the apartment heating area. My floor heats up to near tropical levels. Pure, unadulterated bliss.
As I lie on the floor defrosting, I dream of spring. I know that as the seasons change, and the temperatures rise, so will the water temperature. And so I wait impatiently for the return of Summer Bathroom. I have aspirations of looking like a boiled lobster.
And so today, as you wash your hands in warm water, or prepare to step into a steaming tub, think of me crouched pitifully on my shower stool, and spare a grateful thought for your fully-functioning water heater. I know I will never again take a hot shower for granted. 😀