July 4th, 2006. Independence Day.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
It was the best of times because I was young, I was thin, and I was about to get married to a fine piece of Spanish man meat. It was the best of times because my sister Cheeks was visiting and she was staying with me for a whole week.
It was the best of times because back then we had no family obligations to prevent us from getting drunk, playing video games, and staying up until Bad Idea o’Clock.
But it was also the worst of times, because right in the middle of my sister’s visit, a quantity of rust-colored water that I could only classify as “OH MY GOD, WHAT THE HELL?” began to pour down the walls of my apartment and Would. Not. Stop.
The water was clearly coming from the apartment of my upstairs neighbor – let’s just call him Drug McDealer – and when I bolted up the stairs to tell him “your home is leaking, and also don’t shoot me,” he did not answer my panicky knock.
In what was probably not my smartest decision, I planted my ear firmly against the door and listened. Nothing. No sounds, no movement, and thankfully no bullet blasting through the door, down my ear canal, and into my brain. Mr. McDealer was not at home, and my ear lived to hear another day.
I ran back down the stairs to my apartment and called the “emergency” maintenance service, but as with my upstairs neighbor, nobody answered. I left a message, but an unacceptable amount of time followed during which I heard not a word from them, so I called again. Still nothing. In the meantime, my bathroom, furnace room, linen closet, and hallway were becoming saturated with water that looked A LOT like piss but thankfully wasn’t.
Needless to say, my sister and I couldn’t just sit around and do nothing while the maintenance people were busy *not* classifying our situation as an emergency, so we jerry-rigged a temporary solution. Notice the water *actively* dripping into the bowls:
Finally, at around 10 P.M., the “emergency” maintenance service called me back and agreed to send someone over. And boy did they. About ten minutes later, a man who could have easily played the role of Schneider in One Day at a Time showed up at the door and introduced himself to us as “Wally.”
Wally came inside and investigated for about .0000001 seconds before wisely determining that the water was “coming from the upstairs apartment.” He left us and went to let himself into La Casa del McDealer. He finally came back down after about an hour and a half and told us: “Don’t worry. It looks like your neighbor went out of town and accidentally left the water running. I turned it off and the leaks should stop soon.”
I nodded, relieved. In fact, I was so happy to have the problem solved that I didn’t ask myself ANY of the following questions:
- Does it really take an hour and a half to turn off a faucet?
- Who leaves their water running while they’re on vacation?
- No, really. Who does that? Like nobody, right? Unless you’re in a television sitcom or something. Am I right?
At last it was time for Wally to take his leave, and after a little while the leaks did stop, just as the goodly maintenance man had promised. Cheeks and I cleaned up the fallout as best as we could – ignoring for the moment the bubbling ceiling plaster and the dirty yellow water stains all over the walls. It was around two in the morning, after all, and we were tired. We headed bedwards.
Imagine our surprise and disgust when we woke up to find that all of the leaks had sprung up again overnight.
I had to go into work that day, so my sister was on “repulsive water duty” until I could get home. In the meantime, I called the property management company and told them:
- That Wally the Maintenance Man was Full of Shit. It was clear to me now that he had discovered a real problem up there, but didn’t want to deal with it at 10 PM, and just slapped a Band-Aid on it that he thought would hold until morning. But didn’t.
- That my apartment walls, vents, and ceiling were obviously now full of water and I didn’t trust the property management company to clean it up thoroughly enough to not cause a mold problem later.
- THAT I WANTED A NEW APARTMENT. LIKE NOW.
Luckily for me there was a vacant townhouse in the complex, and after a stressful rent negotiation, it was allowed that I could move in the very next day. Unfortunately, that meant that Cheeks and I were going to have to spend yet another night in The Land of One Thousand Leaks. But we had to make the best of it, and what better way to make the best of it than a PRETEND TEA PARTY!
The next day I took off work and we spent the entire day moving my stuff in the hot hot heat of a Midwestern July. Well, let me rephrase. My husband, his brother, his father, and my best guy friend spent the entire day moving my stuff in the hot hot heat of a Midwestern July, while my sister and I fucked around doing absolutely nothing.
At one point my sister and I walked from my old apartment to the new apartment carrying literally ONE HAMBURGER BUN. And funny you should ask! I *do* have pictures of it!
After we were done, we were all starving, so we went to a local Greek place and ordered the best, saltiest Greek pizza that ever was. And we ate SO. MUCH. of it. Seriously. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten that much before or since. But it was worth it. Even though Cheeks and I literally woke up in the middle of the night needing to drink all the water that ever was:
All in all, even though the Great Gross Water Disaster of Ought Six was disgusting, inconvenient, and ruinous to many of my personal possessions, it left me with a great story to tell and lots of laughs in retrospect. Including my favorite from Cheeks:
I don’t know, Cheeks. Maybe I’ll ask him. After all, he did leave me his number:
“Schneider”: Television still of Pat Harrington, Jr. as Schneider in One Day at a Time.