We had the EQC guys come today to check out the damage. One of them, I swear was 7 foot tall, his head skimmed the top of the doorframes and he was built like a football player. He was SO Australian. Blue eyes, sandy hair. “It’s cold today eh?” He said. “Yes. Compared to yesterday!” I replied. “I’m from Brisbane.” He said, and I felt huge pity for him. Brisbane is on the Gold Coast, it is hot there ALL YEAR. I sympathised with him and became his new best friend.
They were here for about two hours. We have a LOT of structural damage to the house. Our remaining chimney – the one we need, is close to falling down. If it does, the only place for it to fall is either into the kitchen, or pretty much right on top of me where I am sitting right now. There are cracks in the ceilings and walls, in our garage, in the foundations under the house. “Oh they can use this concrete filler on the foundations” he said, “it’s much less invasive than having to lift your entire house up off them to fix them for you.”
Anyway, it’s all covered. I was too honest. I can’t help it. He was SO sweet and so helpful. I think he would have believed pretty much anything I said in regards to broken things in the house. Siobhan was frustrated that we didn’t say her camera broke in the earthquake! Anyway. In the two hours they were here, I think I learned this guys life story. I feel sorry for them. They’re working 10 hour days, six days a week and people are treating them like shit. “Why aren’t you working Sundays?” They ask. 60 hours a week isn’t long enough? There are 200 teams here, working six day weeks. There are 170,000 claims that need to be seen. He gets one day off and has been here since the day after the quake. “I booked my flight back home for Christmas two months ago.” He said. “I’d stay, but it’s Christmas, you know? And I don’t have any family here.” He doesn’t get a break when he goes home either. He’ll go back for a week, and work most of the time there, because “my boss is a jerk.”
I don’t know how old he was. Probably late 20’s. I think we might have been some of his youngest claimants, he seemed excited to have someone to talk to, even though when I offered him a drink he asked for water because “talking to people all day is kind of hard work”. I told him I understood, and that I was a teacher, so I knew what he meant when he was talking about difficult people. That totally won him I think, having someone who understood made him very approachable. He was REALLY sweet and talkative and I’m pretty sure he would have liked to have stayed the entire day. He definitely took his time with me while the other guy ran around with Ollie checking the structure of our house. It’s kind of scary to think that there’s far more damage internally than we thought there’d be. They’re recommending we don’t get anything other than the chimney fixed until March next year, which is when the ground should be stable again. Because if it’s fixed, and we get more shakes (they’re still happening every day, but I don’t really notice them anymore), it’s possible we wouldn’t be covered a second time.
I know my nerves are shot because of all of this stuff I’ve had to deal with lately, I keep having strange panic attacks over ridiculous things. It’s hard to describe what it’s like here right now. All that goodwill and love thy neighbour shit died when people realised that they were going to have to wait for their claims to be filled. I felt really sorry for him. He said that he gets shit from people on a daily basis, and he’s like “you know what? There are 200 teams..that’s 400 people working here and we’re just doing residential claims. Over 170,000 claims have been made, and the guy down the road who lost one chimney is complaining we didn’t get to him fast enough when his next door neighbours house is a complete write off.”
People are assholes. There are 400,000 odd people in this city. Over a QUARTER of them have had damage to their properties. I don’t envy him his job at all. He said that with the last quake we had in NZ, the EQC had stopped paying out cash sums for house repairs, because people who’d never had any money in their lives were being given $90k in the hand and taking off to Australia, or on long holidays, and not fixing their homes. Which meant, obviously, that there were truckloads of unsafe houses that couldn’t be lived in and no one cared. So now they pay it to the builder directly. Honestly, people disgust me. They’re so rude, and so selfish. He looked tired and frazzled, so I talked to him about alcohol and duty free and Christmas and fun things and he went away with a smile. I felt like it was the least I could do.