This morning, I slept late, lazed about, and then finally brushed my teeth, half-heartedly straightened my hair (you can do it half-heartedly when it’s <2" long), and put on a smudge of makeup. My straightener was still plugged in (electricity, ahoy!) when I dropped my mascara behind the plastic drawers we use as auxiliary storage in our elderly bathroom. I nudged the drawers out of the way, only to be hit with a geyser of frigid water. I couldn't understand what was happening at first–Did I knock over a cup of water I hadn't seen? Did I bump the faucet? And as water saturated my leggings and hoodie and the entire bathroom and floor and walls and towels, I realized that what happened was that something had really, really broken.

I had the wherewithal to remember the magical valve you're supposed to turn off when there's already a half inch of water on the floor, and went for it, only to find that it was dangling below the pipe. See, the valve itself broke off. I did not immediately have the wherewithal to know who to call, so 911 entered my mind at first, and I’m glad I didn’t go with that first instinct. I eventually did call my leasing office and was passed around from extension to extension where people calmly and lackadaisically said, “Hmm, I can’t help you. Hold on.” By the time I got to the guy who could help, all I could muster was, “There’s water gushing all over my bathroom and it’s the valve so I can’t turn it off and I NEED HELP.” He promised to “send someone over,” and I went back to the bathroom to stare at the predicament and gingerly unplug the straightener so that I didn’t have to add electrocution to my concerns.

And I, um, put a mixing bowl under the stream of water, which was horizontal and forceful. This bowl was the kind you make cookies in. And it was full in seconds, overflowing and sloshing all over the floor and sopping wet bath mat. And so, I did what any child of the ’80s would do, and I channeled Full House. This episode, in particular (relevant part starts at 3:09). I dumped out three garbage cans (let’s not talk about that decision) and balanced the largest one so that it caught the water. It filled up in less than a minute, so I had to quickly move it aside, place a smaller wastebasket in its place, heft it up and across the bathroom (it’s a small room) to the tub, dump it in, then replace it before the small container overflowed. It was like a Double Dare physical challenge, but really, really cold and heavy and IN MY APARTMENT. Soon, I realized that one of my smaller containers was cracked and leaked water as it caught it. I was back to two containers plus the ineffectual mixing bowl.

And finally, gallons and gallons of water later (we don’t pay for water, hallelujah), the maintenance man arrived, only to tell me that he was unable to turn off the water at the street because that valve was frozen. And so, I caught and dumped and caught and dumped, taking breaks to be sure the cat was on the couch and not trying to go out the door with the maintenance man. And at last, the water stopped. And the maintenance man (I never caught his name because I was soaking wet and unconcerned with pleasantries) ran to Home Depot or a valve and a pipe and wall plaster stuff and miracle of miracles, fixed the damn thing. I think he was amused at how profusely I thanked him. He was not, however, in possession of a wet vac, which is what I really need now. I ended up leaving the saturated bath mat, flooded floor, damp walls, rearranged bathroom, and piles of garbage in favor of having coffee at good old Dr. Bombay’s because as my co-worker says, “Oh, lord Jesus, Calgon, take me away.”

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