Wednesday, October 15, 2008

From the dumper to the dumpster © by adrian Part 1 of 2

It's Sunday night and this has been a very long day in our effort to get the dumper at the cottage cleaned out and properly set up. Linda and I have gone from cleaning the composter pit to me on the roof fixing the vent stack. I am (if you will pardon the thought) wiped.

It's eleven p.m., we're in bed and just starting to drift off to sleep. There will be no sex tonight. Even though, as previously stated (in my story on smells and odors I'll be home soon, don't wash
), I'm a big fan of odor and things of that nature I must confess I have always regarded the fact that the sex organs are also involved with elimination to be a design flaw. This would definitely not have been my choice if I had been consulted. For those of us who like to forage and rut about in the bedchamber, toilets are not held in particularly high regard. There are body fluids, and then there are body fluids. So for me and fortunately for my companion, a day in the dumper does not exactly fan the flames of lust. Tonight it will just be sleepy byes.

Then the phone rings and our lives begin an uncharted course.

A bit of background: the phone at our house in Toronto had been busy for a day and a half, so we thought perhaps it had been left askew by the last person who checked our house while we were away. We phoned the person who has cleaned our house for many years and asked her to please go by and check the phone and house. We thought she would do that in the early afternoon. Seeing as we hadn't heard back from her yet we just assumed she was going to stop by the next morning instead.

I'm a little foggy as I answer the phone and all I can hear from it is hysterical excitement and yelling. As I focus, I realize it's the person who cleans our house but I can't make any sense out of what she's trying to say. I turn on the bedroom light and as I hand the phone to Linda with a shrug I finally get it. Water... there is water running everywhere in our house. Lisa has come in the front door and like all those funny movies we've seen over the years, water has poured out the door as she opened it. Needless to say she is beside herself and after many unsuccessful tries to phone us from her cell phone, she finally gets the taxi driver who brought her there to dial our number for her.

Linda's soothing voice starts to calm Lisa down and then I'm handed the phone again. I slowly begin a series of questions so I can try to decide what to do next. Lisa continues to excitedly explain to me that water is running everywhere (she must be Catholic, because she immediately wonders aloud if it's because of something she did wrong). Water is pouring down the stairs above her and she is standing in about two inches of water at the doorway. Not surprisingly, she doesn't know what to do and we are seven and a half hours away in Montfort, Quebec.

I learn that some lights are still on in the house, so I determine the electricity has not been compromised so it will be ok to move around without many safety issues. I ask Lisa to go downstairs and I will try to describe where the main shut off for the water is. She gets downstairs and immediately sees the shut off valve. It's not easily accessible but she agrees to go through the water and climb over some boxes to try to shut it off, which she does. Unfortunately nothing much changes and water continues to flow down the stairwell and through the ceiling.

I hear another voice in the background. A neighbor from across the street was sitting on his porch and when he heard the commotion he decided to come over and see if he could help. Lisa hands the phone to him and we simply confirm that he also thinks the water is successfully shut off. I ask him who he is and he mentions that our only contact has been that I always wave to him if I see him out having a cigarette. There is much concern on both their parts about whether they should turn the electricity off. I'm convinced it should stay on because among other things I can't imagine standing in two inches of water and touching the main power supply box, so I finally convince them to leave the electricity alone.

I get Lisa back on the phone and after thanking her and my new found friend from across the street I tell her there's not much more can be done and to carefully lock up and we will let her know when we know what happens next.

I now need to convince Linda that the next step should be me getting in the car and heading to Toronto. She can catch up with me later by train once we know more about the extent of the damage. Even though I've had a long day, I love night driving so I don't think the trip will be that challenging. I'm also not a hero, so if I get too tired I will get a motel room or simply sleep at a gas station along the way.

There are many advantages to night driving, it's easy to see oncoming traffic and there are far fewer cars on the road so you can make great time. The only potential disadvantage to night driving is car breakdown, which is a little scary. I drive a 1991 Subaru wagon. What could possibly go wrong in a seven and a half hour non stop drive with a beat up tired eighteen year old car?

My bride realizes that we just can't ignore this and go back to sleep, so it's agreed that I should mount my horse and begin a charge west. I think the electrical system will need constant checking in a house full of water so I quickly throw together a kit of electrical tools. I get to the car and as the clock strikes twelve (do digital clocks strike?) begin my drive into the unknown.

The first two hours of the trip are daunting indeed as I drive through pea soup fog. Visibility is less than fifty feet in some areas. Not an encouraging start. The fog finally breaks about the same time I start to run out of gas at Cornwall. I drive into Cornwall expecting to find a gas station open but apparently at two a.m. this is a foolish belief. I drive around for about ten minutes and don't see any sign of life, not even a raccoon to chat up about how life is always full of surprises.

I remember there is a huge diesel truck stop at the cutoff of Highway 138 and the 401 so I head over to it. I know they don't have regular gas, but maybe I can convince the attendant to look the other way as I siphon gas out of some car parked there. As I approach his counter he looks at me with the steely glare of someone who has already explained twenty-seven times today they don't sell gas. I beat him to it and tell him I know he doesn't, but I must get to my house before it floats away and I want to know if there's any way we can make a deal? He is amused by a tale he's never heard before and tells me that on the other side of the overpass there is a station that even if closed leaves a pump on that I will be able to fill up from if I have a cash card. He rejects the bodily favours I offer him in return for this valuable information and I aim for the overpass. I fill up the tank and continue on my crusade.

I speed along to my destination but not aggressively so. I stay about twenty or so clicks above the speed limit. I reason that if I'm not being reckless even the most jaded cop would let me off with a warning after he hears my sad tale. I stop to rest and gas up occasionally but I'm not fatigued so I just keep going.

Overall I'm a pretty relaxed individual. I'm certainly capable of the odd Italian operatic outburst (Linda sometimes calls me "Sparky") but she envies that I have the blood pressure of an 18 year old. I never fret or worry about the unknown and seeing as I have no idea what's in store for me my mission barely even crosses my mind.

I slide into the mayhem that begins on highway 401 at Port Hope just about 5:30 a.m. I am astonished to discover the 5:30 morning rush hour is just as horrifying as the 5:30 evening rush hour. The only advantage is that the sun is behind me instead of in my line of vision. I finally pull into our driveway at 6:30. I have turned a seven and a half hour drive into six and a half hours. Take that, Andretti!

I brace myself and swing open the door.