As promised, the installation sub-contractor called at 8 AM Friday to confirm our water heater installation. She said she would call back in about an hour to tell me what time they would come out, but we would probably be one of their first stops.
At 9:15, the telephone rang. "We're having trouble getting the truck started." Could anything else possibly go wrong? She said they would keep trying, and she'd get back to me in an hour. An hour later, she said the truck was being towed, but she promised me that we would be first on Saturday morning.
Like the movie Groundhog Day, the installer called at 8 AM this morning. This time the truck was fine. They arrived at 9:45 and swapped out the bad water heater in less than an hour. This time, much to my relief, the pilot lit. The installer pointed to one of the many copper pipes surrounding my water heater and asked if they had charged me extra on the first installation. Apparently, that pipe serves the furthest reaches of our plumbing system ("my" bathroom -- the one upstairs next to my office). An extra plug has to be removed from the water heater to accommodate that pipe, and usually it's an extra charge. I told him they didn't charge extra, maybe because they felt bad about leaving me with a bum water heater. If those guys had said, "Bad news. Your water heater doesn't work, and by the way, you owe us an extra n bucks for hooking up this little pipe," I might have bludgeoned them with their own pipe wrenches.
So now we have hot water flowing out of our tap for the first time in a week. Words cannot express how relieved I am to have this ridiculously over-complicated project finished. What should have been a minor inconvenience turned into a week of frustrating phone calls and cold showers (hmm, not unlike dating). Tonight I'm tempted to crank up the water heater to 160 degrees and steam myself like a hot dog, just because I can.