“Oh no… the doorbell!” Clomp. Clomp. Clomp. Clomp. Clomp. Stumble. Clomp. Thunk. Crash. Stomp. Stomp. Rattle. Screeeeeetch.
That is what it sounds like, every time I have to answer my front door.
I’ve commented before on the unusual architecture of my home. The front door is no exception.
You see, all of the living area in my house is upstairs and facing the garden. The front door is downstairs on the street side. Since I spend most of my day at my computer, a trip to the door can be like running an obstacle course.
When the bell rings, I bolt from my chair and run for the steps. They are bare wood and slippery if I happen to be in sock feet, (I have learned this the hard way).
At the bottom of the steps is a set of glass doors. I think they were intended to keep the cold outside air from getting upstairs. Basically they serve as another obstacle between me and the front door.
If I’ve made it this far, and the bell ringer is still waiting, I have to get through the door locks. Normally, if we are at home, we lock a bolt into the floor which is easy to unlock from the inside.
Inevitably though, if someone is waiting outside, the deadbolt will be locked and it can only be opened by a key. This key is kept safely in my purse … on the other side of the glass doors. You know how easy it is to find a key in a handbag when you are in a hurry…
By the time I actually open the door I am breathless and frazzled.
Often the person has already left, or in the case of a mail delivery, the postman is already writing out the card to explain where to get my package. I’m quite sure my mailman hates me.
It’s gotten to the point that, when the bell rings, I seriously debate whether I should answer it or not.
In addition to having to run the doorbell gauntlet, there is the issue of my clothing choice. I am not one of these women who dress up to sit around the house. If I know I’m going to be home alone all day, I dress for comfort. In fact, I often resemble a bag lady – dressed in faded sweats two sizes too large, big clompy slippers and slightly disheveled hair – my computer and cats don’t mind what I look like.
Besides, there is nothing worse than getting up early and dressing in a presentable manner because the internet installer is supposed to show up sometime between 9am and 5pm. Then you sit around all day, afraid to go to the washroom, because you know as soon as you close the door the bell will ring. He never shows. The following morning while drinking your coffee in your pyjamas, the doorbell rings.
The second problem is there’s no way to know who is at my door until I actually open it. I can’t see the door from the street facing windows and the door itself is made of thick frosted glass that is impossible to see through.
I have been waiting for months for the police to come and confirm that I live here. Even though I spend 80% of my time at home, they always show up just after I have run to the store for five minutes.
I have raced through the obstacle course to the door, throwing it open breathlessly, expecting the police, only to find someone collecting donations.
My neighbour, who lives in an identical house adjoining ours, has solved the problem. She had an intercom installed and can buzz her door open from the living room. It works well, but it is too big an investment for us, as we don’t know how long we will be living here.
Some days it’s these insignificant things that remind you how frustrating the uncertainty of expat life can be.
I won’t get too upset about the inconvenience. I’ll just use the daily obstacle run as an excuse to eat more Belgian chocolate.
Excuse me… I have to get the door.