Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Water, water every where...

“Water, water everywhere and nor any drop to drink.” This line from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner came to life like a tidal wave of confusion when I went to greet the carpet installers at my daughter, Alicia’s house earlier this week.

Imagine my surprise when I opened the door to Alicia’s place and stepped into a flash flood. I could hear the sound of water spewing forth and gasped in fear as I saw the lake of water inching closer to the beautiful laminate flooring my son-in-law Greg, had just installed.

I’ve lived in a few different houses over the span of my life, and one of the things that I made sure I knew about was how to turn off the main water valve to the house. But this wasn’t my house! I was clueless. However, as I was about to bolt to the outside spigot to see if I could find the shutoff valve, the carpet installer, Pancho, rushed to the kitchen and quickly found the guilty culprit. It was the tubing that supplied the water to the refrigerator. Pancho turned the water off quickly, and even helped with some of the cleanup. What a great guy.

Pancho guessed it had been running for two hours. Apparently, if you do not use the correct tubing for the drinking water, it can easily burst and create an indoor lake. I have found out since this little disaster occurred that using the wrong tubing – and the leaks that ensue - are a common problem. The tubing that is needed is pricier than one would expect – but certainly a bargain compared to dealing with a major leak. My friend, Andrea, who is active on the HOA board of her community said this has happened to her development a few times in the last two years. One resulted in a major repair.

So, my advice for today is to make sure to use proper equipment when installing appliances. If you can’t afford the $80 hose, then just don’t hook up the water filtration system until you CAN afford the right tubing. There is something to be said for doing things the right way, using the best tools for the job, and taking the time to do the job right. Of course this is all very ironic coming from someone who can’t put a child’s puzzle together. I hate reading directions or doing anything that takes even a modicum of mechanical aptitude. I even get confused changing the vacuum cleaner bag. But I’m getting better. After all, if you live long enough and learn from your crummy mistakes, you get to be a pretty sharp cookie.

In spite of my lack of mechanical skills, I AM good in a crisis. Plus I was plenty motivated. My daughter, her husband and my beautiful granddaughters were going to be moving into a bank-owned property only three miles away, and it couldn’t happen soon enough as far as I was concerned. Part of this is my desire to have the family unit close by, and part of it is to relieve the stress of my daughter, who has her hands full with a fearless and inquisitive, 22-month-old, and a slightly demanding, three-month infant who has been nicknamed “Crabby Cakes”.

In the past, my spouse was always the one who performed the more “manly duties” (plumbing, carpentry, tree-trimming, tile work etc). But in my zeal to get my daughter moved into her new home I’ve helped remove carpet and padding, removed tack strips, washed walls and cabinets, and volunteered to babysit to hasten the move-in process. I even made the appointment for the carpet installers to come. Not only that, I put a little pressure on the appointment setters to get a crew out there as soon as possible. This was definitely overstepping the mother/daughter boundaries, but my daughter is very easy-going, and I was afraid the installers would put her off another week. So I just took the first appointment they offered. I also let them know she had wanted to move in the week before, but they needed the carpet to be installed first. This was overstepping the boundary of my duties, but as I said, I wanted this to happen.

The installers had been scheduled to arrive between 8-10 a.m., but they got there early. When they called my daughter and told them they were almost there, Alicia called me and asked if I could let the workmen in the house to begin the project. No problem. By 7:15 a.m., me, my cereal, the newspaper and my coffee, were ready to roll. The installers were waiting for me when I pulled up.

I opened the door, stepped inside, and immediately found myself sloshing through inches of water. Before you could say, “Noah, where’s the ark?” I got towels, a mop and a bucket and started cleaning up the mess. Pancho also pitched in. After calling my daughter and son-in-law, we decided to go ahead and start with the installation on the parts of the house that weren’t flooded. All in all, everything worked out okay.

I have to admit that prior to seeing the flood, I felt a little guilty about pushing my daughter to get moving on the house renovations so they could move in, as well as for the earliest delivery dates for the carpet. It is, after all, her house, her life and her family. But in this case, my nagging paid off. Pancho said that he estimated the leak had been going on for two hours. In another 40 minutes the water would have flooded the laminate my son-in–law had just installed. Two more hours and the whole house would’ve been flooded and the water would have been running out of the house and into the street (the same road that was getting chip sealed – but that’s another story).

So what is the morale of this story (besides the using the right tool and doing a good job?) It is not about being a pushy mother. It’s not about nagging. It’s about following intuition. Something told me to push for this. I actually went against my daughter’s wishes when I made that early appointment. And I do not advocate that we run over the desires of others – quite the contrary. But when there is a strong intuition that something should be done, it is best to follow that instinct – or dam the consequences.

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