We collect them and place credence in them as we go through life, those pithy aphoristic one-liners that remind us that the bird in our hands is far better than the two in that nearby bush and that our longest journeys indeed do begin with our first steps.
Well, on the last weekend in May, the adage that seemed most appropriate to my circumstance came compliments of Longfellow’s poem “The Rainy Day” and, specifically, to the line “Into each life, a little rain must fall.”
Returning from an overnight work-related trip in Columbus on a Friday around the traditional quitting time, I was feeling pretty dog-gone good on the threshold of a weekend when my time would be my own to do with what I pleased. I took my dirty laundry out of my overnight bag and made my way to the basement, the level in which I am most comfortable in my castle, one that has on one side a finished man cave designed for beer drinking and movie-and-sports watching and, through a door, a side for laundry and storage of sundry items that should have been discarded eons ago.
However, as soon as I stepped off the stairway landing onto the carpet on the man-cave side and heard a heart-sinking squishing sound. I sensed that this would be a weekend that, instead of my selecting my own activities, it would be a time when a particular activity would select me.
Several more squishy steps took me through the door to the laundry side where the sump hole is located, of course, the source of the problem. Easily, two inches of water covered most of the cement floor in addition to that wet carpet on the finished side. The sump pumps, as in plural, since there is a primary and a backup, decided for whatever reason not to do their jobs. As many of you probably do, I had a cover over the sump hole, but with the plumbing involved, the cover leaned at about a 45-degree angle.
When I lifted the cover, I heard the back-up pump as well as the primary kick in and started to draw water back down into the hole, at least the nearby water that didn’t soak the carpet remnants I foolishly put on the cement long ago. I’m guessing the cover may have been complicit in wedging the sump bulbs up against the side of the hole, thus preventing their operation.
I suppose after inspecting the entire basement on both sides, if we’re talking about any glass-half-full moment, it was that three-fourths of the wall-to-wall carpet on the finished side was still dry. Adding a bit more welcome water to the optimistic glass, I was only gone one night and was pretty sure the unwelcome water intrusion probably occurred that same Friday during the couple of brief but wipers-couldn’t-keep-up rain squalls through which I drove coming home.
As I would find out, the real reason for my glass being half full was because of the people in my life with whom I’ve been blessed who came to my aid on a weekend where professional help would have been so very costly.
A call to my Montezuma girl, Lady Jane, brought her in old clothes with squeegee and an extra fan within the hour, ready to start mopping and doing whatever she could. A call to my nephew Joey brought our cleaning company’s carpet tech with his truck-mount for water extraction and powerful floor fan to boot.
Another call to my pal and top vote getter for best human being ever, John Sreenan, whose businesses include Northwest Property Maintenance and Northwest Flooring Gallery, brought him within the hour to survey the sump hole and then back again on Saturday, twice, the first time to remove the primary sump pump (despite the fact that it started working again after I removed the cover, it could never be trusted again!) and to install a new primary sump pump.
John also gave me his professional opinion about the man-cave carpet. He said it could probably be saved without any mold issues, since the water had only inundated it hours before I arrived home as long as I kept fans on it for several days.
John then returned later in the day with his dump truck to take the pile of soggy carpet and other water-impacted items that formed a growing pile at the curb. Out went old Christmas decorations, old albums by Zeppelin and the ‘Stones not played since the ‘70s and old toys and games from my daughters that have gone unused since they were little girls.
Another call to my friend of over 40 years, Greg Miller, who I hired over 30 years ago to create the man cave, brought him on his Saturday to look at the drywall and render his expertise on drying the portion that took on some water and what to spray to prevent mold.
After an entire weekend of all-consuming lower-level work moving fans and spraying 50/50 mixtures of Clorox and water and hauling things out and reorganizing the downsized laundry room, by Sunday evening, my life looked a whole lot better. I wasn’t even too shaken by an email notice a week later by AEP that my electric bill was 136 percent higher than it was a year ago at the same time, the result of a week’s worth of running three fans on the carpet.
It’s been said that a man’s wealth can only be measured by those he gathers along the way. Well, if that’s the currency used to measure my net worth, given those I was able to gather so quickly on a weekend when so many are too busy doing their own things to worry much about other people’s unfortunate things, well, my wealth just may be greater than that of Bill Gates’.
John Grindrod is a columnist for The Lima News, a division of AIM Media Midwest.