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Best Laid Plans

Have you ever made a plan and then watched it go down the drain?

Saturday night I stayed at my uncle’s. I had plans for a bike ride in Westchester the next morning. As ex-roommates, we easily fell back into our old rhythm – dinner, Scrabble, a movie. I fell asleep excited about the next morning.

This is what that morning was supposed to look like: – Wake around eight – Eat a bagel – Put on bike clothes

– Ride 40 miles

This is what my morning actually looked like:

Woke at six to the sound of water dripping. I walked down the dark hallway toward the sound. I stepped into the kitchen and my foot was submerged in liquid. What the? I flipped on the light. Two inches of water covered the floor tiles. I opened the cabinet under the sink and reached to shut off the valve, but the one valve was useless. The rest were only square knobs.

“Mark!” I yelled. “Come here!”

Seconds later Mark stood in the doorway, trapped between his dreams and this nightmare. He called the super. No answer. He raced up to the super’s apartment. I pulled out items from underneath the cabinet. Cleaning supplies, two mini vacuums, a toolbox. I opened the toolbox and water poured out. Grabbing the wrench I tried turning the square knobs. Useless.

Mark returned a minute later, breathless. “He’s not there.”

“Call 911,” I told him, even though it wasn’t a life or death situation. I moved the dining room furniture into the living room, ignoring the twinges in my back. Mark rolled towels up like sandbags and placed them around the edge of the tiles, even though the carpet was already soaked. He found two buckets. I put one under the sink and used a pot to fill the other with water from the floor, which I then poured out the kitchen window. I dumped six full buckets before four firemen in full gear arrived. Though I was immediately put at ease, I continued bailing as I squatted in the wading pool that now occupied the dining room.

The firemen couldn’t stop the water. “It needs a special key,” one said. A few minutes later a fireman entered with the super. Apparently they’ve got a better knocking system. The super glanced under the sink. “I need to get the key,” he said, though he was told the problem before he came down the eleven flights

“Maybe it’s me, but if you’re a super who’s just been told of a leak, wouldn’t you bring the key with you?” I said. The firemen laughed. I thought about my new apartment. Who would I call in a situation like this? I made a mental note to create an emergency number list to tape inside a kitchen cabinet at home.

When the super returned, key in hand, he stopped the waterfall. Silence never sounded so good. The firemen left and Mark thanked them for coming, as though they’d been houseguests. The super left to get a wet vac. Alone in the kitchen, both drenched, Mark and I looked at each other. Then laughed. Not exactly the peaceful Sunday morning we’d planned.

“Come hell or high water,” I said, tossing another bucketful of water out the window. “I’m still going for a bike ride.”

And I did.

P.S. A shout out to firefighters everywhere today. Thanks doesn’t even come close.

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