Here is a riddle for you, Dear Reader. What do airplanes, parachutes, kites, French silk scarfs, a couple of superheroes, the well-known kid show Airbenders, a flood, and two of the cutest granddaughters ever all have in common? Well, this story, of course. Hang on and keep your feet up so they don’t get wet. You’re not gonna believe this one.
A lifetime ago, I had a friend who was a plumber. A really good plumber. His name was Pete. One day, he told me everything I needed to know about his profession.
After finishing installing a new kitchen sink for us, he gave a toothless smile and said, “Only two things ya need to know to be a plumber. First, payday is Friday. Second, everything runs downhill.” I never forgot what Pete the plumber told me, but now I can add a third thing to his list. But that’s the end of this story. The beginning starts last Christmas when Santa not only brought us all presents, he brought us something else: A new tankless water heater.
A tankless water heater does indeed give you endless hot water, but ours gave us something else – endless problems. So much so the company we bought it from decided to swap it out for a new one last week. That, or they just grew tired of my continually calling to complain. Either way, two plumbers arrived just after lunch, and in no time, we had endless hot water once again. We also had something else, but unfortunately, it wasn’t discovered until about two hours later.
But to give credit, it wasn’t me who discovered the problem. It was the smallest of us, Sweet Caroline, who had been outside with her sister and mom for the afternoon. Caroline came in for a drink of water, then ran back outside shouting something I’ll never forget. In the words of Noah, “There’s water everywhere, and it wasn’t me who done it.”
The plumbers jostled a water line under the kitchen sink loose while they were working. Parts of the kitchen and living room were flooded, and water was dripping down from our basement ceiling. Big Papa here had to cut off the water for the entire house. Now no one is happy … except me.
For the first time in our marriage – that’s twenty-one years come next month – The Wife gave me permission to get mad and yell at folks. Which I did. With one phone call, the plumbing company had the Water Eradication Team (WET) on its way.
An hour later, a colorful van pulled into our driveway. Two guys jumped out wearing red shirts with WET emblazed across the back. In their hands were moisture indicator devices. With just one look, our granddaughters thought they were superheroes.
Leading them to the kitchen, I stated, “Don’t need one of those moisture indicators. I can show you where the water is. It’s all over the kitchen, living room and basement.” As true superheroes, the guys from W.E.T. went right to work ignoring the comment from Captain Obvious here.
As quickly as they arrived, they were gone. Leaving carpet peeled back, cabinet toe kicks removed, plus three giant fans upstairs and two in the basement. Their instructions were few but important to follow, “Leave fans going day and night for five days, and make sure no one steps on the carpet tack strip, especially those two little girls.”
As we waved goodbye to the superheroes from WET, a scream floated out from inside over the roar of the fans located in the kitchen. Someone had already stepped bare-footed on the tac strip.
The Wife and I were met at the door by another proclamation from Sweet Caroline, “It wasn’t me. Mom stepped on it.” With Mom nursing her foot, we thought it best to take the girls to the basement for a while.
That’s when Big Papa here thought it would be fun to throw a parachute army man into the airstream of the giant fans. It was blown up to the ceiling, and on the way down caught in the airstream of the second fan then blew across the room. Paper airplanes were next, then we flew kites. After an hour or so, The Wife brought out the silk scarfs we got in Paris.
That’s when the modeling began. A spoke person from WET called later that evening checking to make sure everything was going okay. There was a long silence on the other end of the phone after I explained what fun everyone was having with the giant fans – then laughter.
The lady said no one had ever done that before. Most folks hate the noisy fans. I told her, “We love them. The girls have been playing Airbenders for hours. Could we keep at least one?” She said no.
So, what is the third thing about plumbing one needs to know? If your house ever gets flooded due to a mishap, just make the best of it. When the team from WET leaves dehumidifiers and fans running for days in your house, grab your scarfs, homemade parachutes, kites, and paper airplanes. Even in this age of quarantine, hours of fun with the kids is just one big flood and five giant fans away.
[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog: storiesbyrick.wordpress.com.]