The party at E's was fantastic, with a nice mix of friends and a buttload of kids. Precious Daughter and Mighty B. had a wonderful time.
The Oracle was stuck working and missed all the fun.
I dragged my reluctant-to-leave children out the door, placating them with one of the radio stations playing 24/7 Christmas music during the ride home. They both crashed and burned into a sound sleep fifteen minutes before we pulled into the driveway.
As much as I love having my kids fall asleep after a long day of frenzied play, they're getting too big to haul from the car to their beds without disturbance. Leaving the engine running, I ran inside, turned down their beds, and went to fetch them in.
Precious Daughter awoke long enough to help me get her out of the car. She helped me lift her up (phew!) and I carried her inside, ditched her coat, jeans and sneakers and covered her up. She was out in seconds.
Mighty B. was total dead weight. He's a beefy kid, and I thought I was going to rupture something during the lift from the booster seat to my hip. I get him inside, and he barely opens his eyes while I get him out of his coat, shoes, and jeans. Zzzzzzzz.
I sort of have the house to myself. The Oracle won't be home for at least another forty minutes, so I park my butt in his recliner and boot up the laptop.
My arms are a little cold, but I think nothing of it until a big shiver runs up my arms. Hmmm... What's that thermostat set on?
I go check, and I see that my house is eight degrees lower than the 68 it should be. Why isn't the heat running? I feel the vents, and they're ice cold. I venture into the basement and check the breakers, and they're okay too. I take the cover off the heater and hit the red "reset" button on the oil burner. It fires right up, thank God.
The Oracle comes in and complains of the cold. I mentioned having to reset the burner, and it was then that I realized the heat had shut off and not come back on. Crap. I call the House Fairy and get a little advice and nothing works. I have to call service from the oil company, unless I want to spend my night punching the reset button to keep the heater turned on.
At 10:45 I call and leave a message with the answering service. The Oracle makes a pot of decaf and we both fall asleep on the couch waiting for the phone to ring.
At 1:30, the temp has dropped another three degrees and I wake up shivering. I go downstairs and punch the reset, wait for it to shut off and punch it two more times. I call service again, and it takes me several tries to get through, because something funky is happening with their telephones. She tells me she delivered my prior message, that she'll call again. I send The Oracle to bed, since there's no point in both of us waiting up, and I'm too aggravated to sleep after a three-hour nap on the sofa. I wrap myself up in a blanket and open my book and I wait.
At 3:30, nobody's called and nobody's going to. I tried calling the answering service again, but they're still suffering that same funky phone problem, and I'm done wasting my time. I make sure the kids are tucked in tight and I crawl into bed, waiting at least another half hour before sleep comes.
I called the service again in the morning, and now the woman tells me that she'd been trying to reach the on-call person "every fifteen minutes" since my last call. I don't really believe her, but I'm wondering why there's only one person to reach. Isn't there some sort of chain of command? Whatever.
At 8:10 a.m., our house is a balmy 50 degrees when the repairman calls and says he'll arrive at our house in forty minutes. We're dressed in layers of sweats and coats and huddled in the kitchen with our fifteen-year-old space heater. Yeah, I could have fired it up last night, but I don't trust the thing anywhere else with the dog hair, not to mention the added risk of two geriatric cats who are desperate for anything warmer than each other.
The guy shows up, and I was tempted to lay into his butt about not answering his page, but I thought his turn at "on call" probably started at 8:00 a.m., and he'll probably have a long list of chilled, grouchy customers. I offered coffee instead. He replaced some little brass part and was gone in fifteen minutes. The best part is that I didn't have to pay him a nickel; the oil company will just tack it onto my bill. (I don't have a service contract, but I guess I should reconsider that since the unit is 17 or 18 years old.)
Our heater ran for over two hours trying to regain 18 degrees.
I'll be calling the oil company in the morning for a chat with the secretary I usually deal with. While I don't want anyone fired for not returning my calls last night, I don't think the guy, whoever it was, should benefit from receiving any pay for his after-hours time on call when he didn't answer his messages.