Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Please enjoy some random bike photos with this story.
This is the first time I’ve lived in a city apartment in about 20 years and I have to say, I’m really enjoying it. I like not having a car and thus, not paying for gas, insurance, maintenance, registration tabs, etc. It’s fun relying on public transportation, my bike or walking to get around.
Granted, the rental management company (agence immobiliere) seems to be run by a band of chucklehead teens up to no good. We’ll call them up to let them know there’s a problem—“Our half-melted bathroom light fixture is still shooting sparks at us whenever we turn it on; are you going to send someone out to fix it like you told us six weeks ago?—and swear we hear snickering on the other end of the line.
“Oui, oui, Monsieur, someone will get right back to you,” they say, amid barely suppressed giggle fits.
Then nothing. No one ever comes out to fix anything.
I imagine we’re the subjects of some YouTube video in which unsuspecting tenants are shown being repeatedly lied to over the phone by pranking agence immobiliere employees whose goal it is to make the tenants snap.
But other than that, everything’s fine. And I love my new rituals. My morning walks down to the bakery on the corner for croissants and muffins. My thrice-weekly runs through the historic and beautiful Petrusse Valley, which is less than a kilometer away. Our easy jaunts into the city Centre where the pretty people hang out. Also, our son’s school is right across the street from our apartment. It’s all good.

In recent days, however, I’d become intrigued by what I soon termed the Mystery Sound. A sort-of repetitive rhythmic Whoomp-Whoomp-Whoomp, which at first I took to be the upstairs couple in the throes of horizontal passion. But the Whoomping  would go on for hours. And unless the guy was suffering one of the side effects I’ve heard about on the Viagra and Cialis commercials—no, not the sudden vision loss or ringing in the ears—that wasn’t likely.
Whoomp-Whoomp-Whoomp …
And then it would stop for a few hours.
And then start up again.
Whoomp-Whoomp-Whoomp …
After establishing that it wasn’t coming from anywhere inside our apartment, the next time the Whoomping started, I ventured out into the hallway and began listening outside our neighbors’ doorways. Perhaps a fellow tenant was using one of those Nordic Track indoor cross-country ski trainers? And given their multi-hour-long workouts, maybe he or she is a future Olympian. Perhaps one I could befriend and whom with gift me with tickets to next year’s Winter Games in Russia!
But, no, I heard nothing at either neighbor’s doorway.
I climbed the stairs to the floor above and the Whoomping got quieter. Aha! It’s coming from below. Now we’re getting somewhere. I sprinted down to the lobby but as soon as I got there, the Whoomping stopped. I’d have to wait to find the Whoomping source, but that was OK. I was creeping ever closer to discovering the source of the Mystery Sound.
The next day, as soon as the Whoomping started, I flew down to the lobby, where it sounded like two rhinoceroses were taking turns butting their giant horned heads against a wall down below. Opening the door to the dungeon-like basement, the sound was so loud I couldn’t help but wince with each Whoomp!
I soldiered on down the stairs, step-by-step, in a sort-of sideways, slightly crouched defensive position, fists clenched and forearms up should I need to shield my face from an attack. Reaching the bottom of the stairs, I followed the sound to an unmarked door from where the Whoomping sound was definitely emanating.
I was nervous. I was scared. With the loud Whoomping now throbbing in my head, I turned the knob, thrust open the door and leapt inside, grunting threateningly with great menace! But not too great of menace. Just in case there was someone inside the room and I needed my threatening grunt to be interpreted as just a loud cough.
My eyes darted all around the empty room, which appeared to be a catch-all storage, electrical, heating, utility-type space. Over in a corner, I found my great white whale, the source of all Whoomping: a techy-looking green cube stuck to the wall amid a jumble of pipes and wires. A small light flashed with each pulsating Whoomp! It was as if the green cube had come to life and was barking at me.
I ventured a closer look; printing on the cube read: Wasseraufbereitung. I whipped out my smartphone and Google-translated Wasseraufbereitung. I suspected it meant detonator. Or Time bomb. Or possibly C4 Explosive Cube!
Instead, the translator came back with … Water Treatment.
Oh. It’s some sort of water treatment thingy. I know Luxembourg has a funky water issue wherein everything gets coated with calcium or sandstone or something. And that you buy detergent and dishwashing soap with special de-scaling agents; the Wasseraufbereitung must deal with that.  It’s then that I notice a clear hose leading from the cube down to a box on the floor marked ‘Minerals.’ Ah.
But why the Whoomping, and the flashing lights? Common sense would dictate that I check with the agence immobilier. But I know that won’t get me anywhere.
‘Cept onto another YouTube prank video.

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