Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I Think I'll move to Australia

I've been thinking about that refrain from Judith Viorst's wonderful children's book "Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day."

It's below freezing, and for two days I have had no heat. As I sit here typing, I am wearing three layers, a jacket, hat and scarf.

My children will tell you I'm no wimp when it comes to heat. I usually keep it pretty cool in the house; sometimes they plead, "Can't we have some heat?" and sometimes they just sneak in and turn the thermostat up.

I pay extra for a program called Guardian Care at our company, Columbia Gas. They are supposed to come when you call, at no charge.

I peeked into the basement and saw that there was water on the floor after two days of pouring rain coming down on about a foot of snow on the ground. (I know, I should have looked earlier, but I didn't.)

Yesterday, my friend Dave came and set up the sump pump, and then I called the gas company, where a dispatcher said someone would be over before 8 p.m.

I guess I didn't realize how much water was down there.

I think maybe the gas guy who came was hard of hearing. "How did the water get down there?" he shouted. "Uh, I guess it came in from the outside," I said, not understanding the reason for this question since the answer was obvious, given the conditions.

He stopped on the stairs down to the cellar. "I'm not going down there and neither should you! You have to call the fire department!" The exclamation points are there to denote shouts. "We'll come back when the water is out of there!"

OK! OK! I said.

I called the fire department and before the words were out of my mouth, the officer said, "Let me guess, water in the basement."

The fire department is two doors down. Three men arrived quickly with a truck and an ambulance. I appreciated their concern, but I wondered why they needed the ambulance. Did they think I had called from underwater? I guess it's probably just procedure.

In any case, they were very nice and set up their big pump alongside my smaller one. Turns out I had about five inches of water.

They said all the water should be gone in about an hour, so I called the gas company again and they said someone would be here before midnight. They also said I had to be home. I asked if I could go to a friend's house nearby where they could call me on my cell phone. The answer was, no, the drivers are not equipped with cell phones.

I told them I was not going to sit there and freeze, and they said, OK, we'll have a dispatcher call you. Oy. Deb gave me and Maddie shelter for a few hours. We shared a pizza (and dessert, of course) and watched the dogs play. Around 10, I headed home.

Meanwhile my neighbor called and asked about the ambulance. I told her the situation and she kindly brought over a space heater. Then Katie called from Brandeis and asked if everything was OK; someone locally had sent her a message on Facebook saying there was an ambulance in the driveway. Ah, the wonders of the Internet.

I stayed up until around midnight, and still no gas company. I called again and they said, "So many emergencies...." and told me now it would be in the middle of the night. I piled on quilts and went to bed, and by this morning, still no gas company.

I called again and got the answer, "So many emergencies..." and was told it would be later in the day. This time I got angry. The rep put me on hold to see what he could do. I decided that if I wasn't going to get some action, I was going to pull the "C" card, but in a subtle way, beginning with "let me talk to your supervisor" and then saying, "I've been sick and I'm home recovering and I pay a lot for this service and simply cannot continue to go without heat." The rep came back on and said someone would be over in about an hour. That was 9:30 a.m.

Someone did arrive shortly afterwards. He restarted the burner that heats my kitchen and bedroom, but there was still too much water around the one that heats the rest of the house. The pump has, again, been going all day.

Oh, by the way, the service guy said my water heater is shot. I have made arrangements to get a new one, which should be installed tomorrow.

Did I mention that I have no landline?" Comcast, my provider, said they said someone would be over tomorrow between 11 and noon.

Dave came back around 7:30 p.m. to see if he could sweep enough of the remaining water out so that the gas company could return to work on the boiler. He said the water is still coming up out of the foundation and in through any cracks in the walls. He also noticed that I have a pinhole leak in one of the pipes.

So there may be too much water to get the new hot water heater, fix the boiler, and even keep the "good" boiler running.

Except for possibly moving to Australia, I am not sure of my next step. I would take an Ativan, but then I might not wake up if the house was floating away.


pam said...

Dearest Runni,

what a nightmare! the last posting, i celebrated your ties to the Ocean, -- now water water everywhere, as in Coleridge,
you shall triumph, by land, by sea...by internet, and who on earth would worry Kate like that -- though probably well-meant...


Jonny said...

You could call the Critter Control guy back, say that you think there is now a really big Wallaby in your house that's eating up all your kiwis and if he could just set up a large, I mean VERY large, have-a-heart trap in your house,you could crawl in and demand to be returned to your native wild roots down under.

What about Maddie...hmm...okay, make that one Wallaby and one dingo.

I can hear your teeth chattering, but Spring is coming...I think.

susiegb said...

Well Ronni, you are most welcome to come and rest up in my Australian house! However, you may want to re-read my posts about the recent Brisbane floods (which included the rural area where I live, and must more besides!)

There are positives and negatives about all places ... I'm sure I have been complaining about extreme heat making me ill only a couple of weeks ago ... !!

Anonymous said...

Wow! You've had a couple of crazy days!!!

Meryl said...


OMG!!What a nightmare!! Glad you are a good swimmer, just in case. I think these kinds of incidents are exactly the time you can play the cancer card without guilt - the cancer card has to be good for something! Please call me if you need any more help. Love ya.


Ann said...

Good grief! I hope everything gets resolved quickly so you can get back to normal.

Nelle said...

The heavy rain caused water in my Mom's basement. She couldn't deal with it so Rob and I had to go sweep it towards the French drain and sump pump. Almost gone now. To lose your heat is major. Good luck with all this. It's a lot. It is good that you have heat at least in two rooms looking on the bright side. Stay warm!

Susan C said...

I wonder what you can do to keep the flooding from happening again.

I didn't know the fire dept. was in the pump business.

Hope you're warm and toasty while reading this.

Morgan said...

Hello- My name is Morgan, and I am in Professor Carolyn Robbins-Chipkins' writing class. Your story is very inspiring and unfortunately relevant to my life at this point. My aunt's mother has just been diagnosed with cancer. We have a small family, thus we spend a lot of time together and are very close. It is a very depressing event and we are all supporting her as best we can. This story has been able to uplift my spirit in a way, to see that there is hope and possibilities to overcome this disease. Thank you very much for sharing-I hope my relative can be as strong as you!