Friday, 21 August, would have been my dad’s 93rd birthday. Mom and I marked the occasion by visiting the cemetery, and then, because we always go out to eat on birthdays, we went to Outback Steakhouse. When I got home, it was sneaking up on 9 p.m., but it was going to be a while before I hit the hay, and I wanted to do a blog post about the sad anniversary, and the even sadder one coming next month (the 1-year anniversary of my dad’s passing).
I got as far as the hallway outside the full bath, when I heard dripping noises. I turned on the bathroom light and there was water all over the floor, and the ceiling was dripping over the bath tub, out of the vent, and out of the heater assembly, as well as several other spots over the ceiling. The bath mats were soaked, and had contained as much of the water as they could, but it was beginning to pool beside them. The closet where I keep the old towels for mopping up overflowing toilets and such was opposite the bathroom. I grabbed them and threw one across the door to keep the water from running out into the hall. I ran to the bedroom, grabbed the phone and had to endure the stupid phone tree (Our offices are now closed. If you are interested in finding out more about our community, press 1. If you . . . .) punched option three and recorded my frantic message.
Then I stripped out of the good clothes I’d worn to the restaurant, including hose, no less (It’s the first time I’ve worn hose since the funeral. . . .), and my nice new shoes, and threw on one of my sleep shirts that are “dress” long, that I wear for grubby, and dashed for the mop and mop bucket which were set against the wall by the half bath in my bedroom, — and my bare feet squelched on the carpet! I flipped the light on in the en suite half bath, and there was water on the mats, and the ceiling was dripping — there was so much water it had soaked out into the bedroom carpet all in the doorway and up under my night stand! I dived for the phone again, endured the phone tree yet again, and left another frantic message.
Then a truly horrific thought occurred to me. The second bedroom, which I use as an “office” shared a wall with the full bath and my computer desk and chair is right next to that wall! I ran and turned on the light and — Oh, no! There was water dripping from that ceiling as well — straight onto my computer and my UPS (uninterrupted power supply — a “heavy duty” plug strip that has a surge protector and a battery backup). — and as I went over to pull the cat barrier aside so I could move the computer out from under the drip, my feet squelched on soaked carpet — the carpet was soaked all in front of my bookcases — which are particle board and “pretend wood” veneer. I know from bitter experience that wet particle board swells to twice its volume, and then disintegrates.
However, my first priority was to get the UPS unplugged and the table moved out from under the drip. Fortunately my computer table is on casters and once I got the UPS unplugged I could move it out from under the drip, but I knew that the carpet under the piece of plywood was soaked as well, and plywood warps. And molds
I’m frantically mopping up the half inch of water that’s collected in the doorway of the half bath when the doorbell plongs and here are the maintenance guys — Larry, the office manager, and a new one named Reed, a young man whose arms are “illustrated” with “tribal” style tattoos. While they are assessing the situation, I grab Jaks, my cat, and cram him into his carrier, because I know people are going to be coming in and out and I need to know he is confined and can’t get outside.
Reed comes in to move my night stand off the wet carpet back around to the other side of my bed and puts that one leg of my bed up on my folding table to get the wood off the wet carpet while Larry heads upstairs. Of course, the people upstairs are not home, so water continues to leak while Larry has to go all the way over to the office to get the pass key so he can get into their apartment.
Naturally, I’m remembering that when I had visited the manager’s office earlier in the week, I had mentioned that I could hear water run for several seconds, then turn off for about 30 seconds, then come on again for a couple of seconds, and that this was happening constantly, which suggested to me that one of their toilet tanks was leaking through the flapper valve. They said there was nothing they could do until the people upstairs complained about it. (This had been going on for weeks, mind you, and their water bill must be outrageous this month.)
Well, guess what? The flapper valve on one of their toilets had stuck in the open position, and the toilet had overflowed all over onto the floor, and that was the source of the water that had soaked through to drip from the ceilings of two bathrooms and my second bedroom, dripped all over everything, and soaked the carpets in both my bedrooms. Ironically, only their one bathroom was flooded, and it didn’t even reach their carpets. And the crowning irony was that their damage was nowhere near as serious as mine.
Larry and Reed help me move the recliner I use for a computer chair, and the table with my computer stuff on it out of the bedroom and into the living room. I move the rug with Jaks’ food and water bowls on it into the dining area, sequester that area off with screens, and let him loose in there because he’s crying so about being in the carrier.
While we are waiting for the carpet cleaner guy to come, the apartment manager tells me not to worry about paying rent for September, and then asks if I have renters insurance (No, I don’t. Since my car insurance tripled after I got the new car, and my my budget was already stretched to the bursting point, I can’t afford it.) While I’m totting up how much two new book cases are going to set me back, and worrying what condition my computer was in, here comes the carpet cleaner guy to vacuum up as much of the water as possible, pull up the carpet and cut out the wet pad in both bedrooms — and then he leaves! Both of my bathrooms are a mess, covered with dirt the water has pulled through the sheet rock. The apartment maintenance people put a fan in one bedroom to blow under the carpet, and a fan in the other bedroom to blow under the carpet, and then leave. I mention the fact that my bookcases are made of particle board and are sitting on wet carpet, but Larry assures me that the weight of the bookcases will keep the water from soaking up into them (I’m biting my tongue at this point, because evidently he has never heard of capillary action. . . ) And then they leave!
I had left home at 4:45 Friday and everything was fine, so sometime after that is when it happened, and it would have been going on for at least a couple of hours to put that much water everywhere — and dirty water at that, since it soaked through the space between their floor and my ceiling and brought 43 years of dirt and crud through with it, and now I have an area of dirty, bare concrete foundation exposed in both bedrooms.
Now that everybody has gone off and left me with this disaster in my lap, I take the white screen and put it across my bedroom doorway, and block off the full bath doorway and second bedroom doorway with the cat barrier from my “office” so Jaks can’t get into the mess. I pull up one of my washable throw rugs to put down in the half bathroom floor so I don’t have to walk in the damp dirty floor to get to the cleaner of the two toilets. I wash a load of bath mats and the old towels that are soaked in yucky water, and set them to drying on my drying rack. I strip my bed (unscathed!) and wash all my towels, the bed sheets, the mattress cover, and the bedspread and dry and fold them. I’m exhausted, angry and upset. In order to try to calm down, I read until I can hardly keep my eyes open, and proceed to sleep on the couch. Bad idea. I got maybe four hours sleep total.