Friday, July 17, 2015

I Don't Yet Know the Characters for "Is That Wall Load-Bearing?"

We live in a 14-story building (counting American style). The bottom two floors are cafeteria space and the rest is apartments. This summer while school is not in session, the cafeterias are being remodeled. This means that this past week was jackhammering from 7 AM to 6 PM, and then refuse salvaging until midnight.

Yesterday afternoon I was in our bedroom, talking to my wife as I was getting ready to leave the apartment after having come home for lunch. Crazy Jane came to us and said, "There's a Chinese dude at the door." One of the construction workers had come upstairs and needed us to show him if our gas stove still worked. When all the burners ignited, he showed himself out.

Hmmm.

So the workers thought maybe they had severed the gas line for the building? My wife said, "They wouldn't have come all the way up here [we live on the fifth floor] to check." I said, "Maybe we were the first apartment that had someone home," since our international colleagues all went back to their home countries and our national colleagues were all at work during the day.

Around the same time, the Internet stopped working on all our devices. Now, the Internet is a tricky thing in China, and it can get trickier depending on the news of the day. So the resumption of the stock market collapse and the week-long round-up of civil rights lawyers could have been factors in our Internet going out. But the cable TV was out, too. That seems like a revolution-level step, not just a bad-news-level step. My wife e-mailed our lifestyle coordinator dude and he wrote back that the workers had accidentally severed the Internet and TV connection to the building. There's no word when it will be reconnected.

These guys aren't really inspiring our confidence. I'm pretty sure that, if they collapse the ground floor, we're going to have some serious ramifications up on Floor Five. Not just, like, "Oh, now we're Floor Four," but, like, "Oh, now we're at ground level with nine stories of rubble atop us."

If you read about a Chinese building collapse this summer, maybe you should read a few paragraphs to find out where it was before you assume we're safe.

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