Then I heard a roar.
At first I thought it was just my heater being extra loud, but then I got up to investigate. The sound was definitely coming from the utility closet. I pressed my ear against the door and was startled to feel a spray of water. I turned the hall light on, opened the door, and BAM.
Geyser in the closet.
I located the source of the geyser right away—a disconnected washer tube. After searching frantically for a lever, switch, or button to make the water stop, I did what I always do in a crisis: call my parents. (Yes, it did occur to me to call the maintenance emergency number, but the last time I tried that the number was disconnected.) The main benefit I got from this phone call was someone to panic with me (not an entirely useless thing to have). Nothing I did was helping, and I was getting wetter and wetter (that water was cold), so I made another desperate phone call to my apartment's general office number, hoping an updated after-hours number would be on the answering machine.
It was. Maintenance Emergency Guy answered the phone almost immediately, and told me where the lever was to turn the water off. Of course, I couldn't find it because it was dark and I didn't have my glasses on and I was already panicked about the lake in my hallway—what if I pulled the wrong lever and blew up my whole apartment?
Maintenance Emergency Guy said he'd be right over, and I used that time to finish getting dressed and find my glasses. And I found that magic lever about 30 seconds before he showed up.
That silence after 10 minutes of roaring was the most beautiful sound.
Then came the aftermath.
Really nice Maintenance Emergency Guy found the lever that turned off the washer so we could turn the water back on, meaning I would in fact get to shower the next morning. He also called somebody to come vacuum up the lake.
I changed into dry clothes, and started mopping up what I could with every towel I could spare.
These pictures really don't do this adventure justice, but I had to do something to satiate my nerves while I waited for Vacuum Guy.
A swimming pool also formed in my washing machine.
The items on my fridge got the worst of the damage. My coupon calendar, sadly, wasn't salvageable.
In hindsight, I wish I had snapped a quick photo of the geyser in the closet, but I was more concerned with other things at the time, like keeping my hair dry.
Vacuum Guy arrived 20 minutes later, so I moved my sodden mass of towels from the wet tile in front of the door to my bathtub.
And I finally found a use for that extra shower curtain I bought four years ago.
While I was ringing and hanging, this nifty little machine was sucking up water.
And when his job was done, Vacuum Guy put this very loud fan next to my bedroom door and told me to leave it on nonstop for two days.
Vacuum Guy left at midnight, and the worst of my crisis was over.
So I celebrated with a midnight comfort-food snack.
I was tired enough to forget that there was no way my body was going to allow sleep after such a disruption to my life of calm, so I spent the night tossing and turning when I could have been doing something fun, like finishing my book. Oddly enough, it wasn't the loud fan or replays of freezing water shooting at me while I tried not to drop my phone that kept my mind whirring. It was all the what-could-have-beens. What if I had been asleep when that tube broke? What if I hadn't been able to get ahold of someone to save the day? What if another pipe broke and I couldn't hear its resulting roar because the fan was so loud?
This whole experience could have been much, much worse. When your only casualty is your coupon calendar, you count yourself very fortunate indeed. (Plus it's great that I haven't made the plunge to home ownership yet, so the apartment managers get the fun task of footing the bill for repairs.)
This isn't something I ever wanted to experience, especially without another adult around to help, but a part of me is grateful it happened. This was one of those crises every adult has to face at some point, and you never know how you'll handle it until it happens. But I made those critical calls, kept my head, and pulled through it with some dignity in tact. It's one more thing I've proved to myself I can handle on my own, and I've got some battle-earned tips to keep in mind for the next crisis.
- You need to own more than four towels, even if you're the only one who uses them.
- The minute you move into a new home, locate as many buttons, switches, and levers as you can—you never know when you'll need them.
- When you get a new phone, take an hour to learn how to use it so you don't waste time figuring out how to dial a number in the middle of an emergency.
I will be considerably less glass-is-half-full about this if I have another sleepless night, though.