O ur bedroom roof had a leak.

The previous tenants had warned us about the leak, but the hot summer days of Yerushalayim had combined with our shock at the roofer’s estimate, to persuade us that a little crack in the ceiling wasn’t really such a big deal.

In fact, when we thought about it, it added character to the apartment. Who wants a bedroom exactly like everyone else’s? Besides, deep in the Mediterranean summer, who can imagine a cloud in the sky, let alone the drip of rain into your home?

We signed on the apartment.

We forgot about the leak, until the week after Succos, when I sensed a little damp in the air. Inside the house. But then a broiling heat wave hit, and the summer stretched on until Chanukah. The leak was forgotten, and we managed to stay cozy in our little cocoon of denial.

And then winter hit.

“Why is all the clothing on the top shelf of the closet wet?”

“Oh, I must have put them away while it was still damp.”

“Yeah, but there’s a puddle — a big one! — underneath the closet.”

“Well, maybe they were very damp.”

And so we lived, blissfully ignoring the crack in the ceiling and the occasional puddle on the floor. What’s the worry — we had plenty of shmattehs. But the leak began to spread, and when the drops of water landing on our beds forced us into our guest bedroom, we conceded defeat.

We called the roofer, got an estimate, bargained, and finally decided to use him, figuring that it was worth paying premium price so that we wouldn’t have to fix a roof again the next year.

And then we had to figure out what day the work should start.

We wanted it to happen right away. The contractor made it very clear that this was a dumb idea. “You can’t fix a roof in the rain,” he declared.

“But we don’t need it fixed when it’s sunny. We need it fixed now!”

To no avail. We finally agreed on a date several weeks away — weather permitting.

The long-awaited day finally arrived. My husband arranged to learn at home, just in case the workers had any questions. The workers showed up bright and early, only 15 minutes late. I was thrilled, because I was expecting them to come in May.

The contractor walked in. “Okay, now we need to go upstairs to the neighbors, to get onto their porch to reach your roof.”

We were a little annoyed. “Umm… but our neighbors aren’t home.”

“Mah pitom?! Of course they’re home!”

Except, of course, they’re not.

“You have maybe a ladder I could use? No? How do you expect me to fix your roof without a ladder?!”

Now, I could understand if my plumber came, and if it turned out that our toilet was clogged because of a blockage in the roof, and he asked us for a ladder. But you’d think that a roofer might anticipate ladder usage. Particularly when he’d already come down to assess the job and give us an estimate.

“Call your neighbors and see who has a ladder. I can’t do anything without a ladder.” (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 580)