Snippets of Big Yellow Taxi have been playing over and over in my head all day. Specifically the part where Joni Mitchell sings, “… you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.” There’s a reason for this. In other words, it’s not just some random earwig.
What is it that’s gone? Our hot water. That’s what.
We had it Thursday evening. It ran straight out of the tap, unappreciated. On Friday morning when we woke up, though, it was gone. Our hot water heater went “pfffft”. Yup.
Fang awakened me early on Friday morning to let me know that we had no hot water. I asked him if he had checked the water heater. He just looked at me both quizzically and knowingly, which is difficult to do. I knew what that look meant, though. It meant that he had not gone downstairs to check on anything. (It may also have meant “Water heater? What water heater? I don’t know nothin’ ’bout no water heaters!”)
In fairness to Fang — his lack of water heater knowledge notwithstanding — he does have to be at work a couple of hours before I do. Still, even if he had been off he wouldn’t have done any investigating of water heaters. This is not just because we’re renters, but also because Fang doesn’t know the first thing about water heaters — or almost anything else plumbing-related. Ditto for electrically-related, construction-related, car-related … the list goes on and on. He gets mad when I say these things, but they’re true.
Luckily for Fang I at least know where we keep the water heater. I dragged myself out of bed and went downstairs where I discovered a water heater that was spewing its contents, in a volcano-like fashion, from the top. That’s something you don’t see every day. (Normally they leak from the bottom.) I knew I had to turn the water off. Naturally, the water heater resides in a narrow, closet-like room — a room with a dirt floor.
I tried to think of a way to turn off the water without taking a mud bath — dirt + water = mud! — but soon realized that there was no way around it, I was going to have to get muddy. What I didn’t anticipate was that I wouldn’t fit between the hot water heater and the wall. That I had gotten muddy for no reason at all was slightly irritating.
More irritating, though was that I was dealing with this by myself. Worse, I was dealing with this by myself before I had even had a cup of coffee. Normally, early morning, uncaffeinated me makes very poor decisions. Once in a while, though, I am able to formulate a thought before I’ve had my cup of joe. And formulate a thought I did.
I decided to call in the neighbor. He’s taller and lankier than I am. He was not only available and kind enough to agree to help me, but he also had the forethought to wear boots. I had, I realized after hanging up the phone, forgotten to tell him about the mud. When he showed up wearing them, I breathed a sigh of relief.
With the help of a broomstick he managed to turn off the water. Have I ever mentioned that I really like my neighbor? I do. I really like him. He was not only helpful, but good-natured about the whole thing. Dealing with Fang in this emergency would have been a whole other story. I was actually kind of grateful that he sauntered off to work.
I then had to call in all sorts of favors and rearrange my day to wait for the utility company, which I did. Outside of turning off the gas feed — something I could have done myself (not that I had thought to do it, but if someone had told me to do it I could have) — the utility guy was of no help at all. Wanna know what his opinion was? “That thing’s busted.”
Wow. It’s a good thing we called in an expert. The woman from our management company and I shared a few laughs about that one. He was kind enough to let us know exactly what type of hot water heater we would need to replace the “busted” one. Do I even need to mention that this was also information I could have garnered on my own. Still, he lent some much needed comic relief to the day, so his presence wasn’t totally useless.
After umpteen phone calls and trips back and forth to the basement, very little progress was made. It would have to wait another day, I was told. Okay. No problem. These things happen.
A few minutes ago I received a text from the hard-working lady from our management company. As luck would have it — and, you know we never have any good luck, right? — we won’t have hot water until at least Monday evening.
Okay, so we’ll have to adjust. We have heat, which is a plus because it is cold outside. We also have cold water and cooking gas. I can boil water for a couple of days. We will have to resort to camp showers and paper plates until the new water heater is acquired and installed. It’s an inconvenience, but certainly it’s not the end of the world.
I’ll tell you what I’m going to do when I get my hot water back. Well, first I’ll shower — that should go without saying. Next, though, I’m going to appreciate having hot water flowing from the tap. Yup. That’s exactly what I’m going to do. Why? Because “… you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.” (Ain’t that the truth?)
What have you failed to appreciate today?