Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Upstairs, Downstairs

Who among us hasn't banged a nail into the wall with the heel of a shoe? Is the hammer two flights down, in the back of a closet, in a junk drawer, out in the garage, or do you not own a hammer?

Is it rare that you have the things you need, at hand, when you need them?

Living on 3 levels, I have had my share of  ***arghhhh*** moments, and I've since kept the house stocked for myself and for my guests. I doubt it's only me who has crept around my host's house, trying not to wake the dog up late at night, looking for an extra roll of toilet paper, or heaven forbid...a plunger.

The latter episode did happen to me. When I sheepishly told my cousin at breakfast that "I think there's an issue with the bathroom"...he said, "Oh Cuz, I forgot to tell you that we turned off the water to the toilet..."  NOW you tell me??  It's kinda funny in the re-telling, but I was really embarrassed! I'd closed the lid, tiptoed past the sleeping dog (who opened one eye, but did not growl), found some paper and a pen, and had written "Out of Order!"
Living so close to Manhattan, I have had my share of houseguests. Among them were tipsy friends who were better off not driving, or who stayed over because it just got too late.
Some were unexpected (including complete strangers) on the terrible night of Sept 11, 2001 as well as the big Northeast Grid blackout in August 2003.

For your own sanity and the sake of planned and unplanned guests, take a moment, take stock and stock up.

Here are some ideas:

Keep paper towels under the bathroom sink.

Grab a few (free) paper measuring tapes the next time you're at IKEA.

Keep a small sewing kit around--assorted thread, some needles, a seam ripper, small scissors.

Pick up an extra alarm clock and a flashlight or two at the odd lot store.

Extra pillows can be as little as $7 at Target.

It's an indelicate subject, air freshener and a plunger for every bathroom. Plungers come in "decorative" styles, not as unsightly as days of yore!

Purge and update the medicine cabinet(s)--stock pain relievers, cough medicine, hand cream, Q Tips, etc...

For the guest room, or near the the pullout sofa or the that guests don't have to root too deeply through your cabinets, have a small box or a basket filled with toiletries, a bandaid or two, disposable razor, sports sox for chilly feet, an extra toothbrush, and a bottle of water. You can save extras from hotel stays, or buy travel size goodies at Target, a drug store or Bed Bath and Beyond.

Save some recent magazines and give your guests a small stack for late night reading.

Stash an extra hammer, screwdriver and pair of pliers in a desk drawer--they come in handy!

Buy a small box of picture hanging nails, and keep it in your desk drawer.

Put some post-it notes and extra pens near your telephones (if you have landlines!) or near the front door.

Make some extra sets of keys, for a guest, for a trusted neighbor and maybe one to hide case you lock yourself out!

As you would do for a babysitter, have your address and cross streets and a list of phone #'s in a logical place. If you need to call a plumber in an emergency, or a housesitter smells gas or needs a relative's contact info, it's good to have info in one place, at hand. I wrote the plumber's name and number right on the front of my hot water heater.

I'm not saying you need to offer fancy turndown service and a mint on the pillow, but little niceties make your guests comfortable and you can sleep knowing that they are less likely to have to find something themselves or wake you up!

Whether you're an apartment dweller or homeowner, it's handy to have this stuff you don't have to run to an all night deli, or outside to a storage shed in your PJ's, or go down to the basement, or scramble for contact info if your iPhone dies or the computer is fried.

Out of frustrations, come solutions. It must be the Girl Scout in me...but I like to be prepared, and to anticipate what others might need. My ex called me "Two Shoes" which was short for Goody Two Shoes. I liked it, actually.

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