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Plumbing Issues, Hotel Medici

The Medici Hotel, Rome. Traveling through Europe, we arrived late into Rome. Lisa and I had started about two weeks earlier in Barcelona. Right at the beginning in a diner, I left my wallet behind. That meant all the credit cards were lost. No one tried to use them so if I could remember the restaurant, they are probably still holding my wallet. Well we traveled with traveler’s checks and were just about out of money. Don’t believe the saying that American Express will replace your card easily. It wasn’t until the end of the trip in Rome a few days after our fateful stay with the Medici Hotel that I finally found an American Express office. Lisa didn’t drive and she didn’t have a credit card. We were pretty low on cash. I will admit that a late night arrival in a strange city is no way to scout accommodations. In the dark the Hotel Medici was about the right price. We took a room without a bathroom. It had a sink in the room and the shower/tub was down the hall. The next morning as I sat on the bed repacking my camera gear, Lisa was propped up on the sink putting on make-up. I heard a crack and a thump as the sink came away from the wall to land on the carpet. There was no support beneath the sink. Lisa screamed. Water jetted into the room through the hot and cold water pipes. I quickly jumped up and looked for the cutoff valves, which are there beneath every sink in America. Nope, they aren’t there in Italy. Plugging the pipes with a finger on each hand I was mildly surprised to stem the flow immediately. Lisa continued to scream. She was panicked because we had no way to pay for the damage. The carpet was soaked. As I calmly (?) surveyed our situation, I asked her to get my pants and put them on me. Half dressed, I was now ready to seek help. Lisa went into the hall and got the maid. When the maid peeked in and saw me crouched by the fallen sink, she threw up her apron over her head and ran away. You can’t make this stuff up. I next sent Lisa to find a porter. When they returned the porter cast a curious look at me but did not advance into the room until I beckoned with a nod of my head. As he bent down I released my finger and he was splashed in the face with streaming water. Asking for him to turn off the valve, wherever it was, did me no good as his English was poor and my Italian no better. Lisa was in full panic. We would be assessed for the damage and had no money to pay. Jail, ‘guilty till proven innocent’? But, we weren’t innocent! I couldn’t escape from my position holding off the water. A momentary flash of ingenuity occurred. I asked for a bottle of wine. Lisa was incredulous. I don’t drink! Ah, but the cork would be perfect. Procuring a cork I cut it to fit and stuffed each pipe and sealed the water. The porter had still not found the cutoff valve somewhere else in the hotel. Now I could dress fully. Lisa grabbed the two suitcases and marched out the room. I don’t know how I had the presence of mind to photograph the damaged sink. In the lobby, the early morning guests were having continental breakfast. Lisa screamed at the manager that she had been injured when the sink fell. The manager assumed that Lisa was blaming him for the accident and started to respond loudly in Italian. Since I could only understand Lisa, my translation is a bit sketchy. She picked up both bags, which I will say were quite heavy, and she march out the front door. She didn’t put the bags down for two blocks until we reached the car. Afterwards she admitted to speaking loudly to the manager to divert him from calling the authorities. ‘A picture may tell a thousand words’, but I would respond that, ‘if the walls could talk…’

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