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Groggy after being up all night with a bad cold, I stagger out of bed to make tea the next morning and notice a huge puddle of standing water pooling up across the entire back of my kitchen. My first thought: Gee, I don’t own a peeing dog any more, but could my cat actually hold that much liquid? Or maybe the mini-flood came in through the exhaust fan? Could a neighbor have watered plants with a hose and some of the stream went astray? Nope. Nevertheless, I run out for some new cat litter, just in case kitty’s expressing his creative impulses.
I mop up the mess. Then I call my plumber.
These days, plumbers are what single or divorced women have instead of husbands or boyfriends. So this is a paean, in part, to my plumber’s perspicacity, because he’s also an electrician, a Quaker, a peace activist, a world traveler, a gardener, a family man, and an all-around terrific guy complete with his own decaying villa in Italy. Nice!
Naturally, I have him on speed-dial.
It’s a Tuesday around noon. I tell him about the leaking water. He’s so busy he can’t come by until that Friday. I beg, I plead, I grovel: What about later today? He’s not sure he can help me. I feel faint. But it’s an emergency, I implore. Keep monitoring the situation, he advises, and let him know what develops. “Your kitchen is under the bathroom, right? Well,” he theorizes, “it could be coming from there.”
Naturally, I expect the worst. Visions of major reconstruction loom in my fevered brain. It’s overwhelming. I envision my house all torn up! Ayieeee! My piggybank’s already just about bare. How will I ever replace those irreplaceable ceramic tiles installed on the kitchen walls and floor? What if I have to gut the kitchen cabinets to get at the plumbing so we can resolve this leak? Then how will I EVER sell my house?
My fears and misgivings multiply exponentially, escalating as I cycle from inconvenience to calamity to catastrophe to total Armageddon!
Not one to twiddle my thumbs waiting helplessly for a repair-person to deign to show up, I decide to become proactive, investigating this one particular kitchen cabinet between the gas stove and the rear wall, right where the water seems to originate before it spreads all over the floor. Hmmm. I notice the bottom of the cabinet appears soaked inside. So I call my plumber back and tell him I may have located the source of the problem, sort of. Now he thinks he can help. Get back to him in an hour, he instructs, and let him know if the water’s spreading.
Then it dawns on me … This was my Y2K closet! Shortly before the start of the New Millennium, I set up this cabinet as my emergency storehouse! Suppose I’m being plagued by malevolent remnants of Y2K? I bet I still have some of the original bottled water left inside the cabinet, from almost a decade ago. What if THAT finally started to leak?
Lo and behold, I find one of those huge three-gallon water containers. Not only is the jug half-empty and dripping, all my other food supplies inside the kitchen cabinet are practically swimming!
I yank the damaged water-container out of that soggy cabinet and haul it outside. It leaves a wet trail in its wake. I dump what’s left of the water on some thirsty plants in my back yard. On the bottom of the jug, I see an expiration date: 2005!
Water expires? Who knew?
In a flash, before further damage to the cabinet, I remove everything inside – all my remaining Y2K supplies, a vaguely yucky array of bottles, cans and boxes – chili, powdered iced tea, instant coffee, black bean soup, apple juice. I throw a thick newspaper down inside the cabinet to soak up the spillage, then redial my plumber.
“This will be one of those stupid-customer stories you’ll undoubtedly tell your grandchildren as you shake your head in amazement,” I begin my confession, feeling slightly foolish. “Actually, it wasn’t a burst pipe. Evidently it was an exploded Y2K water container.”
“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh,” he says, ever the patient sage. Then he suggests, “Why not set up a fan to dry the inside of your cabinet out?”
Amazing! Just think – soon I’ll be able to re-stock my former Y2K cabinet for the next catastrophe that hopefully never comes. How comforting! Happy New Year!
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