Calm in any crisis – except our own.

Wow. This weekend. Where to start?

On Thursday evening I was getting ready to tackle my last day of work. It had been a tough week; I had pulled 14 hour shifts on both Monday and Wednesday and had only taken about five hours of sleep every night for the past three days. I was exhausted and looking forward to a good night of rest.

And then the phone rang.

Long story short, one of my dearest friends in the world was suffering. She was in a very bad place and we ended up spending four hours in an emergency room together. After all was said and done, she ended up coming back to my place to spend the rest of the night (morning). I took Friday off from work to spend the day with her.

Over that entire time I was the rock. Whatever she needed I gave her to the best of my ability. We made it through Friday, and by Friday evening things were going fairly well. We watched a couple of movies, indulged our Sims addictions (my addiction is completely her fault), ate some incredible sushi (delivered to the house by BiteSquad – OMFSM I love that company), had a little whiskey, and got nice and sleepy.

And then The Hubby called from the hallway.

“Can either of you think of any reason why the floor might be wet?” Curious, we both got up and walked over to see what he was talking about. My curiosity turned to dismay as I saw that this wasn’t just a spot on the carpet, but a quickly extending darkness flowing across the carpet toward both bedrooms and the living room. Now… we live in a 700 square foot apartment, which means all of Our Stuff is stored in a very small space, stacked thickly in every nook and cranny. I was frozen, not sure which action to take first, watching with horror as the water crept toward all of Our Stuff.

And then my friend leapt in to action.

She quickly found the leak – a pipe that had been feeding the bathroom sink had burst. She applied pressure to it and barked out orders to Bring ALL the towels! Close the bedroom doors and make dams so the water doesn’t flow through as fast! Go wake up your neighbors to help haul Your Stuff into the hallway! Call the landlord! No answer? Call him again! Find the on-site care taker! Call an emergency plumber! Unplug ALL the things!

And we listened. At the worst point there was two inches of standing water on the floor. We finally managed to drag the caretaker from bed. She opened the utility room so the emergency plumber could shut off the water line that fed the entire building. By that time the carpet was soaked from wall to wall, but we had moved most of Our Stuff – only the heaviest furniture was still on the wet carpet.

Next came the cleaning up as well as possible. We had two shop vacs going for ages. My friend made signs for the neighbors that apologized for the noise (it was about 1am at this point), for Our Stuff being in the hallway, for the water being shut off. We shop vac’d forever.

IMAG1135 (577x1024)

The thing about shop-vac’ing carpet is that it seems to flow right back into the areas you’ve just vacuumed.

The Hubby was able to stay with his parents, but there wasn’t enough room for all of us at their house. My friend and I decided to stay at the apartment and sleep on the bed, which we renamed The Raft, on account of the fact that the carpet was still soaking wet and squished with every step we took. Once we were settled on The Raft we giggled for a long time about our predicament. This was supposed to be a night of relaxing for her. was supposed to be taking care of her. I argued that I had managed to provide an evening’s worth of very engaging distraction, however unintended it might have been.

At some point during our adrenaline-filled, sleepover-style chatting in the dark, we realized that in the span of little over 24 hours our roles had reversed. During the flooding she had taken care of me. She was my rock. We are both what I would describe as being calm in a crisis, but I think a large part of that is being able to detach from the problem, the long-term consequences, the short-term chaos. And so that night spawned the phrase “Calm in any crisis except my own.” Her crisis I could handle. My crisis she could handle. Friends are good people to have.

And the apartment?

The next day the landlord arrived with a five-man cleaning crew. They moved all of our stuff, tore up the ruined carpet and padding, and set out fans and dehumidifiers. I have The World’s Best Landlord™. He sent us to Home Depot to pick out laminate flooring, new carpet-and-while-you’re-there-might-as-well-pick-out-some-new-paint-for-the-walls. He told us he’d reimburse us for any damages to Our Stuff and would pay for a hotel for as long as the apartment was out of commission. He fixed the broken pipe and got the water turned back on for the building. He promised to be back on Monday morning at 8am to begin repairing and replacing things.

IMAG1157 (558x1024)

Sad demolitioned sink is sad.

IMAG1141 (577x1024)

A lot of Our Stuff was crammed in our narrow kitchen space.

IMAG1140 (1024x577)

Carpetless floors, books piled high on the window ledge, furniture shoved into the dining room, and some garland looking down on the scene and festively mocking us.

This was not how I envisioned spring cleaning going.


We managed to save almost all of our possessions – very little was damaged beyond repair or use. We are getting a fresh coat of paint, new laminate flooring for the front room and one of the bedrooms, and new carpeting in the other. I get a story to tell. And my friend and I will always look back on this weekend and smile. This weekend started out for her as a dark night in her life, and ended with the two of us giggling on a raft in my bedroom.

Calm in any crisis – except our own.
OrbitCon: The Orbit's online conference. Attend from anywhere.

9 thoughts on “Calm in any crisis – except our own.

  1. 3

    One person’s crisis is another persons chance to show their strengths. Wouldn’t it be boring if everyone was exactly the same…
    Lucky you have each other as friends!

  2. 4

    Giliell, your comment does not match your ‘nym. I haz a suspicious.

    Apart ftom that, a wonderful outcome to a shitful scenario. Congratulations to your household Brienne and commiserations for the (thankfully few) things bollixed by your flood

  3. 5

    Although I feel terribly that you had such a mess on your hands, I am glad that you had such wonderful things come out of the experience. Glad your friend is feeling better and I am glad she had someone to be there for her. You truly are a wonderful friend.

  4. 6

    That story left me smiling big! Bad things suck, but one of the hallmarks of humanity is how well we can pull together and not only make it through, but make the best of it! Everyone in that story is awesome.

  5. 8

    It is always more difficult to maintain perspective when it is your home and your stuff. Sounds like you did very well.

    Tip from an old plumber: Control valves are not always easy to find, or get to, a considerable percentage are corroded open and require additional time and effort to close. Shutting off the water can take longer than you think. And as the water is rising minutes feel like hours. What do you do in the mean time?

    As you found out trying to staunch the flow is tough. Water pressure is typically 15 to 40psi. Sometimes north of that range. Those pressures aren’t the sort you can stop with materials readily at hand using your fingers.

    One answer, if you can remember it, is to turn on all the water sources you can. Open every faucet in the house or apartment, flush all the toilets and get them to run if possible, open the valves outside the building, get them all flowing wide open. In an apartment get the neighbors to do the same. What you are doing is dropping the pressure on the lines and on the break. At the much reduced pressure the amount of water coming out of the break will decline, and you may have some chance at holding a temporary patch over the break. This buys time for someone to find and work the right valve.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *