Last night while I was washing a load of towels a pipe sprang a leak under or behind the kitchen sink. Soon we had a kitchen floor covered in water. I had planned to make these pre-prepared turkey wrapped in bacon with carrots for dinner and instead went across the street and got two vegetarian pizzas. We tried to mop up a little and called our landlord and left a message. This morning promptly at 8AM looking quite jaunty with a knotted ascot at his neck, the landlord inspected the pipes and said that he would try and get a hold of the plumber this morning if not he does a regular pass on Wednesday morning. So the plumbers are here now fixing the pipe.
We live in a group of seven cities that have joined together for administrative reasons. We live in a large well maintained although no-frills French public housing appartment complex. I would guess there are conservatively 200 appartments. Each building is three stories high with a stairwell that runs up the middle. And than six appartments in each building three on each side fanning off the stairwell. In our building we are the only people with kids. Our neighbors are as follows. The guy across the hall is from Africa I can't remember what country. His house is immaculate and he has the most beautiful white leather couch I have ever seen. He is unemployed and taking some sort of training leaves looking very well dressed. He speaks Spanish having been sent to Cuba at some point and my Spanish is better than my French. We are probally the only African and American talking in Spanish at the bus stop in a Paris suburb.
For a long time a Mercedes with diplomatic lisence plates sat in his underground parking garage and most recently he has a new small non-discript french car, brand new. Way to go. Above us is a nice married couple with grown kids. He is from Africa and his wife is french. He is deaf and has cochlear implants. She is very exacting and their house is very beautiful. I have been over for various things and it is like a palace compared to our which is much more plebian. My son refers to her as Madame. And he runs up the stairs and forcefully knocks and the door wanting to give her a kiss. I try to stop him although I have heard the door creak open when she hears Fred coming.
Across the hall from that couple is a single older woman from Portugal who feeds the cats in the neighborhood and seems kind of spiritual. The top two appartments are occupied by a lady who has right sided weakness due to a stroke and some of her family has moved in to take care of her and across from her is this very thin guy who buys bread at the bakery twice a day like clockwork. He looks seriously ill. So my guess is that several of the people have serious health issues or disabilities.
Than there is us on the bottom floor. Which is cool with a kid and a dog to have a large yard which are called gardens here. It is ringed by eight feet tall bushes which are maintained by the gardners. The grass is nice and we have to cut it ourselves. The only thing I don't like about it is that I feel like everyone watches us out in the yard like lab experiments. As I appear to be a bit of a curiosity to be an American way out in the suburbs in public housing. Our appartment is called One percent paternage. Where any company in France over 100 workers contributes 1 percent of all their earnings into a general federal fund which is used to buy appartments and houses in the vicinity of their company. We waited two years for our place and were given it due to the fact we have a kid.
The benefit is that due to the subsidy the rent is much lower. We only pay 600 a month for a light well maintained two bedroom appartment with a side office that could theoretically be a third bedroom but it is really small. We have a large glass veranda and our kitchen is large enough for a comfortable table that seats four and is closed which is nice. As so much now is open design. If we had to rent it on the open market I would guess it would be about 1000 a month or more. So we feel ourselves fortunate. I think about 30 percent of people in the Paris area live in Public housing or some sort of subsidized housing. Many French do not have the dream of ownership because on a modest wage it might be impossible to buy a place in Paris. As a standard two or three bedroom is 250K euros or about 300K dollars. Also in France you must put 30 percent down payment, plus with fees, which would be close to 100K. Most people can not manage to save this large amount.
The plumbers put a new kitchen faucet and everything seems to be fixed. They are on their way. Incredibly efficient. Both guys from North Africa and brightened up when they saw my Obama poster in my son's bedroom.