I hate worms. Always have. I even have a strong memory from when I was about 4 or 5, where I ran over one on my tricycle. I can’t remember whether I did it on purpose, but I was horrified by how much blood and guts could come out of one worm, and went howling to my mom for rescue. I’m not sure what she was supposed to do about it (bandage it? bury it?), but in moments like that, Mom is the only answer.
My opinion of them hasn’t improved in “recent” years. When I was in high school biology, I excused myself from dissecting one, and just watching almost made me sick (I think I still had to answer questions about it, for a quiz). However, before you label me a complete wuss, I had a great time dissecting a frog, a few weeks later. I think I had more fun with that than some of my lab partners.
Walking to work in the pouring rain was quite an experience, because buckets of worms seemed to have washed into the parking lot and onto the sidewalk. Because of my previous horror of live or squashed worms, I will walk a haphazard pattern, trying to avoid them. Even the trees (which I usually find fascinating, being a tree-climbing fanatic) couldn’t distract me from watching my step. And then, when you’re going uphill, and the water is streaming towards you, loaded with the disgusting things, all you can do is cringe. And occasionally yelp at a particularly long and revolting creature. Before you gardeners get after me, I know they’re good for the earth, but that doesn’t mean I want them out of the ground in front of me. That’s why if I do weed a garden, I wear gloves.
We’ve just surfaced for sunshine, after a week of rain. But before the cats and dogs had quite finished falling, my fellow cashier and I were swapping stories about flooding and rain. That began because Fernow’s ceiling developed a leak, causing them to move her to the register next to me, rather than worry that plaster would fall on her head. Oh, and to keep the rain from dripping on the already-drenched students. They’d had enough of the rain OUTSIDE, much less inside.
My years as a housekeeper in Pennsylvania came to mind, when leaks and floods seemed to spring up whenever we weren’t expecting it, on our campground. So, I began to tell Anita about the various incidents that had occurred over the years. When every building qualifies as old (anywhere from 30-90 years old), but they’ve been fixed and re-fixed at different times, causing some interesting quirks in the buildings.
Every serious rainstorm would send me to our retreat center to check the basement, because for some reason, when it rained really hard, the water went rushing over the roots of a large tree, and found its way into the pipe system of the building. Following the pipes, it would emerge in the basement bathrooms, bringing a lot of silt with it. Over the years, I had to mop up tons of mud and sand from that floor, thankful that the dirt usually stayed on the linoleum, instead of going out onto the carpet. Of course, one year, I let it dry and then the vacuum “backwashed into the air, so we had to wash all the dirt off the walls.
But one year (and one time since I left there) there was a continuous rain for several days, with no reason to go into that building. The rain had stopped, but I knew by then that I would need to do some serious cleanup. It was a guarantee. I hurried down the stairs into the basement, and stopped in my tracks on the last landing. Something was wrong. What was it? And then I realized that the ceiling lights were reflecting off the floor.
Yep, for sure and certain, our TWO sump pumps had jammed, and there was about 3-4 inches of water on that entire floor. It’s a large carpeted basement, used for conferences, and I was extremely grateful that we had picked up the hymn books (which usually end up on the floor) and put them on a cart. We would have lost the whole lot. I called in reinforcements, and we opened the back door, causing a river of water to stream forth. For the next few hours, we used squeegees and plastic brooms to sweep the water towards the door, while our maintenance guy attempted to get the sump pumps running. After that incident, the floor needed a serious carpet cleaning for all the sand that came through, but fortunately, the plaster walls weren’t damaged.
The motel wash room had character of its own, wish two washers that had to be staggered, because of the sink that the dirty water drained out into. If two washers drained at once, it would overflow onto the floor, making me very familiar with the use of the water vac and it also kept the floor relatively clean. I got very good at remembering to stagger the loads, by setting them to different times, but when a visitor wanted to use them, I had to go into long explanations of why staggering was the law of the land.
But there was always one person who forgot, or thought they knew better, or a summer staffer who adjusted a timer when I wasn’t looking. And on one sunny day off, I was invited to dinner with two of my fellow full-time staffers. We were running late, and I was in a hurry, but I had to go get something from the motel. And saw water coming out of the doorway. Tearing into the room, I found a waterfall coming out of the sink, with the rinse cycle only beginning. Ever been running late, and found a crisis on your hands? I went tearing around like a chicken with my head cut off, looking for the long full-time staffer who wasn’t going to dinner. They were technically “on call”, and I had to tell them what happened, a mile a minute, and then run for it. But don’t worry, he was more understanding than on days when a toilet overflowed on my day off. Those were redletter days, knowing that I had “missed out”.
My favorite (or maybe least favorite) memory of water leakage involved my own house in PA, which was a hodge-podge of character that you or I will never meet the like of again. It has since been sold and hopefully fixed up to prevent any more incidents. The builder of my house had made a habit of bringing leftovers home from other projects, and then added them onto his house. So, that’s how I ended up with crystal old-fashioned doorknobs and heavy wooden doors into the bathroom, which I once had to take off the hinges, to get my friend out, when they locked themselves in.
A nice feature was the bay window in front, which had obviously been built on later. There was a flaw in the new and old sections that only showed up when it snowed. No, my sunroom leaked when it rained, but the front had no problem then. But during my first winter there, we had enough snow that it took a week or three to melt it all off. During the day, the snow/ice would melt, and then at night, it would refreeze. The snowmelt would then work its way into my roof, down through my ceiling, and hit the large window sill in front of that window. Originally, I decorated it with Christmas figurines, but that had to go by the wayside, unless I wanted them to drown.
For two weeks, I ran my dryer constantly, taking soaking towels away and replacing them with dry, because the leak was in an awkward spot where a bucket would not balance. Oh, and some of it ran down the windows. I had to borrow towels from the camp, in order to have enough, or I would have been using hand towels to shower with.
Of course, all these stories would pale beside any floods that came accompanied with worms, because then I would have let the guys deal with it. If worms are part of the deal, I’m out of the picture. And no, I would never be able to do Fear Factor, because of this fatal flaw. Sad, but true.
I am betting that every family has a story or two that involves a bad leak or flood from rain, snow, or sewer backups. Wouldn’t you say? Even since I’ve come home, we had a hot water heater “leak” that involved a spray of water hitting the back wall, and covering the floor quickly. I could hear it from the top step of the stairs, on the night before Thanksgiving. Had to wake up my parents, and all my brothers and I were home to soak up the towels and mops.
How about you? While you are hopefully enjoying the sunshine again, somewhere, what are your rainy memories?