On one sunny, hot as the hinges of Hell, day here on the surface of the sun, I was alone on the showroom floor. My cell phone rings. I see it’s ‘home’ so I pick up expecting to hear something like a ‘I’m home from work. See you soon, honey,” kind of thing. Well, not so much.
Instead I hear, “Honey, we have a problem.” The rest of my month would never be the same. It started out relatively upbeat. We were going up to Flagstaff to see the Cardinal’s training camp and to catch a meal with Zano and fambly at the Japanese knife-fling-y place.
She said, “There’s a note from Ozzy our neighbor. He apparently had to shut off the water main to our house as he saw water running out of the garage onto the street from under the garage door. The whole house is wet. Come home NOW!”
Ah, well, uhhh, lets see. First I’ll call the boss and let her know I’m closing early as I am all alone. I’d better put a note on the door. I’ll go lock the side door. As I run to the side door, keys in hand, I see a terrifying sight. Coming towards the door is an elderly couple. Have you ever seen Tim Conway when he does his old man impression? You know, the foot-shuffle at .00003 mph? That was a tad Jeff Gordon compared to these two. Since I wasn’t about to lock the door in their face (which would have been funny, in a Pythonesque sort of way), I let them in. They want new kitchen cabinets. They wanted to “walk” around and look at the displays. Oh gawd. I wanted to pull out our hand truck if it would speed them up.
I call the boss. “Can someone come here quickly?” I got the slowest…what…no? “Oh well, thanks anywho.”
As I stand with the couple, answering questions, I am visualizing terrifying things. Cats doing the backstroke thru the living room. Wet electronics. 113° and No A/C. And, above all, a simultaneously wired and overwhelmed spouse.
After the longest 40-minutes of my life, they bid me goodbye and slowly exited the building. I hit the lights and locked the door the second the last shuffle cleared the door. With my metal knees popping like driving over bubble wrap, I jumped into the Ram, and made it home in 50-seconds. Having power beneath your foot is a welcome thing when you have to be in two places at once, and the Hemi ‘flew’ me home as I watched the fuel gauge drop before my eyes. As I entered the house, I started to make a mental note of the things I saw. Note to self: a mental note isn’t worth the neurons it is written on. I’m old, and there just isn’t any more room on my ‘mental white board’ to write anything else. From now on I must use paper.
My first question to her as I saw my wife standing there in full Def-Con five panic mode was “Are the cats ok?” She seemed bewildered why I would ask that. After all, didn’t I have E.S.P. and already surmised how the problem didn’t affect them? I could, though, tell which areas of the carpet were water-logged just by watching the cats go to the bedroom by way of…like-Wisconsin.
My wife had already called a plumber, and his Buttcrackness was already en-route. I walked into the garage and saw where the water came from. A valve on the back of my water filter/softener had blown, spraying water over the two bags of white tile grout I put beside it. Then said water, milky white by now, slowly roamed throughout my house. Thru the laundry room, the living room, the master bedroom and master closet.
“I have to call the insurance company,” I said. I called them and surprise surprise, I got a hooman. I asked if they had a local water abatement team they worked with. They said they would have them call me. The plumber arrived and told me he can loop around the system and restart my water for the low price of $306.18. “Don’t even fucking ask,” I said, “Start!”
The water in the Azirona area is hard. It’s some of the hardest water on Earth—liquid concrete as it’s known by my neighbors. It’s like taking a shower in sea water, which has only one benefit: when you fill up the tub, turn on the shower, and play ‘submarine incident’, it’s slightly more realistic. Suds are, as of now, a thing of the past. The maker of the water system came a week later and replaced the offending part at no charge, then he fucking CHARGED ME to re-hook-up. “$200.00! You want me to pay you when your machine has caused thousands of dollars in damage to my home?” The straight faced answer was…well…yes (actually “si”).”
The abatement team arrived that first night and life as I knew it was over. They methodically went through the house with Star Trek-like technology, measuring the wetness of everything. Sheetrock had to be removed, base moldings, carpet and padding. Vanity cabinets moved away from walls, toe kick covers trashed. When that was over, in came the fans. Yes, the Fans. Nine green industrial type wind machines capable of reversing the rotation of the planet, along with three de-humidifiers. As they plugged them all in, one by one, I saw the lights dim. I went outside and watched the electric meter as it sped up to near light-speed. Like in Space Balls it eventually “went plaid.”
Making noise like the machine that awakened Frankenstein. I fought back the impulse to shout, “It’s alive!” It was spinning so fast it seemed to get translucent like it was winking in and out of our dimension, like Dr. Who’s Tardis just before it disappears.
I could just see the white-coated nerds at Aridzona Power leaning over the monitors and jerking off like they were watching internet porn as my kilowatt usage went stratospheric. It wasn’t till the team went to leave that I heard the rest of the news. It was Friday night; they said they would be back on Sunday night to retrieve the evil green blo-jobs.
I learned to read lips that weekend while watching TV. The good thing was that one really didn’t need sound to watch the Olympic Women’s Beach Volleyball. I especially studied the hand signals intently. Sleeping was just not gonna happen. I was up for about 72-hours that weekend. I get in such a lovely mood when I’m tired. They named me The Crank on a good day. The phone would ring and I would answer: “WHAT!” Yeah, I was a real peach by Sunday night. I “helped’ them out with the machines. Tossing them like so many trash bags, seeing how good they were at catching them. In point of fact, these kids did an amazingly good job of stopping the damage, treating the wet areas for mold, and drying it all out. It must be a thankless job. So I didn’t thank them.
The cats had to be sequestered in a non-affected bedroom, and were convinced that they had in fact done something hideously wrong and were being punished for it. “Uh, that wet spot is too big to be us, boss.” I joined them from time to time just to keep them company and feed them. Have you ever seen cats beg? It wasn’t nice. Dogs are used to begging. They have made it an art; cats, not so much. You could tell they were new at it. They weren’t very good. Every time I would go in the room, they would try a new position, a new meow. I could just hear the old black female as they huddled before my next entrance: “Listen furbag, you get on the dresser upside down and put your paw out like this, while I look up from the floor and do the big-sad-kitty-eyes thing. That should do the trick.”
While I got used to the constant headache and drone, the bare floors and the clothes being in new-fun-to-find places, my lovely wife was having none of it. It wasn’t pleasant. I, of course, needed to be reminded every 30 minutes for 3 days of what has happened and how awful it all was, lest I just happen to forget. I was a bachelor for many years before marrying my wife. This was still luxury compared to conditions I have lived in before.
I could feel the loss of privacy with strangers going through the house, and the dirt and dust that followed the abatement. It was bad for us both, but after a few days we begrudgingly accepted it as a temporary state. If it wasn’t for an alert neighbor who knew how to shut off the water main, I would be in much worse shape. He saved me, big time. As of now, after meeting with the insurance adjuster, I am in the middle of getting the insurance company to give me a realistic amount of cash for me to make it all right again. It will take time, but it will be even better than before. It has to be-gulp-I promised my wife. It’s my job.
P.S. A note to the local H.O.A (home owners association):
The fact that my cul-de-sac is now the fifth largest lake in Aridzona, I should have been your first clue I had a flood. There was lots of garbage, some things that can not be replaced had to be discarded, mementos and such. I put it all out days before they took it. Get a fucking life please, you fucking control freaks. One of my neighbors uses the curb as the place to store his three pails and has for many years. May I humbly suggest fucking with him? If I see you in that shitty little grey car of yours taking pictures again, my Ram will earn its name and make Long Island-style road-pizza out of you.
All our Luv,
The last soggy house on the left….