Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Late Night Emergencies

My mother and I were talking yesterday afternoon and she said, "Did you know you could rent a husband?"

"What?" (While thinking, I don't need one that badly! )

"Some guy. He was homeless. He started a business called rent-a-husband. He's a millionaire now."

"Oh yeah. I remember seeing something about that. It's like a Mr. Fix-it Business."

Well, I could have made use of a rent-a-husband last night. With all my independence and my willingness and desire to do it myself - there are just certain things where I prefer the male gender to take over. Call me old fashioned if you want.

A couple weeks ago my tire went flat on the way to work. While I know I should know how to change the tire - I'd much prefer to call a male friend.

Last night I experienced one of downfalls of my much-loved single-domestic state. I'm single. Which means there are no males to rouse awake to fix mechanical emergencies at 10 p.m.

My night went something like this . . .

I went into the guest room closet to look for something when all of a sudden: *squish*. I look down - step again - *squish*.

I, being an insightful individual, think, "Carpets ought not to *squish*." I contemplate for a moment or two. There is no evidence of a water stain on the ceiling or walls. Therefore, passing the blame to my upstairs neighbors is out of the question. The water seems to be oozing up from the floor. I don't really know how this is possible. This seems to be a legitimate emergency for the after-hours maintenance people so I go to call the number.

*ring* *ring* *ring* *ring* *ring* *ring* *ring* *ring*

Thinks: "Odd, The answering service usually picks up by now."

*ring* *ring* *ring* *ring* *ring* *ring* *ring* *ring* *high pitched squeal that signifies the phone is done ringing*

Ok, maybe there is a separate emergency number. I call a neighbor/co-worker to see if she knows it. She assures me that it is the same number and an answering machine should pick up.

The eternal optimist that I am, I try the number not once, not twice, but thrice more. Same results.

So, I do what any sensible young lady does. I call my father. Who is in Ohio. (The man has the worst timing with being in other states when I have damsel in distress moments) I describe the oozing water from the floor. He tells me to put down towels. "No, father, oozing and squishing."

I hang up and try the number twice more. Eternal optimist I tell you! It, of course, does not ring me through to anyone but the high pitched squeal. I finally decide to make the best of it and drag everything out from the closet. I decide to check the other side of the wall - in the living room. It, too, is wet, but thankfully does not *squish*. It is while I am removing objects from the floor in this part of the apartment that I hear the faint shhhhhhhhhh sound of rushing water. A sound that would induce feelings of calm were I beside a stream on a spring day. However, I am not and it does not. Rather, there is a moment of panic as I think. "airconditionunitandhotwaterheaterinstor
agecloset!!!!!" I fling open the patio door to race to the rescue of my Christmas ornaments in the storage shed when. . .


I frantically punch in the alarm code and then run to the ringing phone to give the security company my pass code and name. I briefly consider asking the man if he knows anything about exploding water heaters. I do not. Instead I'm thankful that at least something is working right - good to know my security company is on top of things.

Back to the water heater.

I open the shed door and see water pouring out of the water heater and a pool of water on the floor. I am thankful for the "user manual" on the front and snap it off the side of the appliance and then jump quickly back when I read in big bold letters, "CAUTION: DANGER OF ELECTRIC SHOCK." What do I do? Call Daddy! I'm sure I could've figured this out on my own had I wanted to - Daddy was more for support and such you know.

So we get the breaker turned off first. Then, to figure out which of the many knobs before me turns off the water. Hmm. Instruction manual tells me how to install the water heater, the most common places for leaks, and how to change the temperature - - but there is no instruction for turning off the water. Helpful. My father warns me that one of the valves is a pressure valve - don't turn that one! Great.

I know, let's try apartment maintenance one more time!

*ring* *ring* *ring* *ring* *ring* *ring* *ring* *ring* *high pitched squeal that signifies the phone is done ringing*

I actually get in my car and drive around looking to spot the maintenance golf-cart parked in front of an apartment or a courtesy officer on patrol. Nothing. I call friends around the corner to see if I can borrow the maleness of the husband - no answer.

Ok. I can handle this. It's just water. In a pool. Around electrical appliances.

Let's look at the user guide again - carefully. Aha! Somewhere in the middle of some inconsequential diagram about hot and cold water is a knob labeled "shut off valve." Awesome! Now to match picture ot real-life. Ok. I've got it! The water is (mostly) off - there's still a faint shhhhhh sound.

So, I call my father and boast of my proud accomplishment. I rehears the "An after-hours maintenance man doesn't do much good if you can't reach him!!!!!!" speech for management in the morning. I wonder if the little wires near all that water will catch fire . . .

I try the offices of both the police and fire department. No answer. After hours you know. So, I do it. I finally break down and call 911.

"Do you have an emergency?"

"I don't think so....I'm calling to see if you want to send someone out to check something. My hot water heater burst and there is water around it and the air conditioning unit. Could you send someone to check to make sure I don't have a fire hazard in my apartment?"

"I'll send someone."

I wait a few moments (and I clean my living room - I'm having guests after all!)- and then hear sirens. As in plural. More than one. "Surely not for me?" Oh, they're getting closer. The flashing lights come near - I walk out to meet the men and see my neighbors all peering out their windows. My neighbor/coworker calls as she does whenever flashing lights find their way to my end of the complex. Yes, yes I am the one causing all that drama. The men of two fire trucks and the battalion commander come into my little apartment. They check everything out all nice and official. The battalion commander radios out that they can cancel the other responding units. Other. Really. Bored tonight? I should be fair. Had my little drama caused a spark and a fire - i would've been very appreciative of the multiple trucks. They're being safe. So they checked it out and declared me safe and I smiled with endearment as they did their best to bounce the dirt off their big ol' fire-man boots before traipsing back by my pretty taffeta curtains.

I answered questions for not one, but two, reports and they went merrily on their way. Thank you so much gentlemen!

About five minutes later there is another knock on my door. Surely this isn't a straggling fireman. They sent out the abort message! But, no, guess who? Maintenance man and courtesy officer looking mighty confused. Welcome, gentlemen! So they check it out. Maintenance man turns my water completely off as the water was still running. (Somehow I think I'll owe extra money on the water next month....) He yanks up the carpet in the closet and in the living room. He'll come back in the morning to replace it and do the rest of the work.

I imagine a far less dramatic scenario had there been some boy here to immediately know where the water cut-off know was located. But, then, I would be lacking in a story for a blog - so perhaps this way was better. Plus, if the guy were here I bet he'd stay at home to monitor the maintenance men and I would not have such a valid excuse for being at home today rather than at work.

At least I get new carpet out of the deal, right? Think they'll let me pick the color?