A very not advisable way to wake up in the morning

How nice that cell phones come equipped with alarms you can set. So it was that my little LG Rumor phone woke us up at 5:30 so I could take Susanne to the airport. She’s set to teach tonight, after she flies to Denver, changes planes, lands in Spokane, drives 3 hours to Walla Walla and gets to exhale a couple of times before the debate begins.

I turned around at BWI and drove back to the lovely Michael’s house, checked email, and fell back asleep at 7:30. At 11 I groggily got up, walked through the closet and then connected guest bathroom. Turn on the hot and cold taps to the shower. Shuffle in. Stand under the water, fumbling for the shower gel. Then I transferred into “awake” from the semi-dream space of an odd-hour nap. (I call those “poison naps,” but that’s for another story.)

I am practiced at turning off the hot and cold taps together, for I greatly detest having a last spurt of too-hot or too-cold water just before I’m toweling off. Hey, it’s my shower, I get to be as controlling as I want. So, both taps closed. But water was still coming out the top of the shower. My brain was a little slow in computing that something was wrong. I opened and closed the cold water tap. Still flowing. I noticed that the pipe itself was turning, not just the handle. Uh-oh. Before I could really compute how to fix the problem, the faucet blew out of the wall like a torpedo and suddenly a hard jet of water was slamming across the shower and all over the wall, and then it took the 90 degree angle and raced across the bathroom onto the floor. It looked like this:

 

The shower unplugged

The shower unplugged

Okay, I’m exaggerating a little. But it was quite the forceful thick stream of water! I called out to Michael’s roommate, who himself took a moment to realize someone was calling his name, and a little desperately. He gently knocked on the bathroom door. I was in the shower holding the water off with my back, draping the curtain over the front of me, in some stupid attempt to preserve my regular level of modesty. 

“Come in!”

He heard the pounding surf and asked what happened. I held up the faucet and four-inch section of pipe.

“Oh, shit,” he said. My thoughts exactly.

I asked him to find the water cut-off for the condo, since trying to put the pipe back in place didn’t work at all, what with the pound force of pressure working against me. I could hear him looking everywhere for the valve, next to the washer/dryer, the water heater, out on the back deck in the utility room. Nowhere. He thought maybe such a thing didn’t exist, but I’ve watched enough Holmes on Homes to know every house in America has a freaking cut-off valve for just such a water crisis. By this point I was standing outside the shower with my hand over the stream directing the water to the back corner of the shower stall, but the level of water was rising faster than the drain could take it away. Watching my left knee I moved a couple of towels onto the drenched floor to sop up the mess.

Michael’s roommate stuck his head back in the bathroom. “I can’t find it anywhere! He was starting to look a bit panicked. “Call Michael,” I shouted over the din. 

“I called his office three times.”

“Cell phone,” I shouted.

“Oh, right!” he shouted back at me.

At this point, 1.2 miles away, Michael saunters into his office, having a busy but productive morning at work. His assistant tells him his phone has been ringing off the hook. Michael also sees a message on his cell, and as he’s checking it, sees that his roommate has also been calling his desk. So he calls back, saying, “Hey there,” in a merry sing-song tone.

“No,” says the roommate, which at that moment became a shortcut for “stop talking and help me find the water cut off valve.”

For those of you unfamiliar with Michael, let me just say here that the word “nonplussed” came into existence in part because of him. For even when he’s livid, he’ll just tell you quietly that he is currently very angry, and that’s about it. If hothead is one polar extreme, Michael is fairly close to the other end.

He calmly directed his roommate as to the location of the cutoff, and I felt the water ease and then cease, dribbling out and then ending like a grizzly bear succumbing to a massive dose of tranquilizers from a scientist’s dart. 

I suppose this means I have not been a very good houseguest, so the plan now is to make a nice supper of lamb shank, roasted tomatoes and orzo, and a mixed green salad. I’ll need the water back on, of course.

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Categories: visiting

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