Saturday, February 5, 2011

Flooded Basement, Heart of Gold

Yesterday I wrote about how horrible people can be; today I'll focus on their awesomeness.

Like this guy. I LOVE this guy. I have no idea who his is, but we'll call him "Frank the flooder." He's a gem waiting to be discovered. He really is, and I'll tell you why; I bet his basement flooded and then (like any person I adore) he made the best of things, slapped on some scuba gear and posed for this picture. He's gold--pure gold--and I'm glad his camera wasn't involved in the flood.


What I love most is the plunger. What could he possibly plunge at this point? I hope he found a toilet that still worked and started flushing fast!

My friend's basement flooded the other day. It wasn't as bad as "Frank the flooder's" experience, but still bad. The weather's been so cold that a lot of people are dealing with frozen pipes and indoor swimming pools.

My friend called, and her voice shook as she spoke. "Bring over some buckets quick. Do you have . . . anything?"

I dumped piles of fabric out of a couple containers, before running like the ground was made of smelly laundry--no one wants to stand in stinky clothes for long. When I got to her house, the door waited, open. "Are you home?" I peeked into the hallway.

I listened for someone to answer, but only heard gushing water. I hurried after that, burst through the door and flew down the stairs to where it looked like Water World came to life. I gasped as clear liquid fell from the light fixtures and made a syncopated rhythm I've never heard before. My feet sloshed closer to my friend. "I'm so sorry," I said, nearly dropping the containers in my hands.

I didn't know what to do after that. It seemed like some crazy-traumatic soundtrack should burst through the air, like when Gandalf falls into the pit with the balrog. Then we could hold up our hands and watch in slow motion
as the water descended and distorted the greater mass below. A water ballet, ebbing and flowing without a care, but I guess it wasn't supposed to be beautiful even though some things are beautiful even in their destruction.

I just stood there for a moment, staring at the room. It was a terrible sight; so much sunk in ruin.

My friend is extremely talented. She's a photographer, a crafter; I swear she can make anything better just by looking at it. That's probably why she takes such amazing pictures. She sees the unexpected and amazing side of everything. That only made the whole situation break my heart. The room getting hammered was her craft room.

I snapped out of my sluggishness after that. We grabbed everything we could and hauled it to a dry place: boxes of family pictures, decorative papers, fabric, books. She called the city utilities and they shut the water off. It felt eerie when the water stopped coming through the lights and still left us with the mass around our feet.

Her neighbor, a genuinely nice guy, came and helped us after that. At one point my friend peered around and said, "There's nothing like someone seeing your skeleton."

It hit me how hard that would be. I can't imagine what some people have in their basements--boxed-up sweaters from grandma, black-mail pictures their mom took--it could be horrible.

I tried thinking of something, anything to make the situation better and since I'm the queen of awesomeness I said, "You have a great skeleton."

So, it wasn't the most profound thing to say, but it came out anyway and was much better than saying, "Looks like God gave you that indoor pool you wanted."

She half-snorted. "I have a great skeleton?"

"Yep. As far as skeletons go." What was it? Halloween? I don't know why I say these things, but at least I was trying to be helpful as I stood in my drenched shoes and told her how fantastic her skeleton is. What was I . . . an orthopedic specialist?

Then her neighbor came back into the room and we threw away more of my friend's favorite possessions.
The neighbor grabbed a soggy pen and stuck it through the ceiling. A huge stream of water poured out, like a dairy cow's udder. My eyes glued to the saggy ceiling which looked like an implant gone terribly wrong. And even though I should have continued helping, I felt hypnotized by that stupid stream of water. Do you know how peculiar it looked for someone to poke a hole through a ceiling and then see water magically pouring from it? It was Alice in Wonderland weird--like when she drank the wrong bottle and cried a flood of tears!

We were in a crisis, a real crisis in suburbia and it had clustered us together. Fate is strange and can draw different people who must prevail in good and horrible times. Like when an elevator gets stuck, or a bad car accident happens. Those are profound moments when we can affect each others lives in amazing ways.

There we were in that small room with the implant ceiling and the water-magnified floor. The room practically swam around us and my friend decided to do something that I'll never forget.

As we sloshed around, she kinda chuckled. I cocked my head. "I'm glad to be cleaning this room. I've been wanting to downsize," she said and a huge smile lit her face. I wanted to cry, dance in the puddles, but I didn't want anyone to see what a sap I am. So I turned and hid the tears in my eyes because she's so strong. She knew the water probably ruined her floors. Hell, it even turned her ceiling into an implant and took a ton of her craft supplies to the grave, yet she still had the courage to be happy.

I'm so proud to know people like her, who see what really matters and really counts. I'm glad she showed me how great life is. Even if your light fixtures cry and you suddenly can go swimming in your own craft supplies, there's always a bright side. She showed strength in adversity and I got to be Alice in Wonderland!


  1. Always lookin' on the bright side. I hope your neighbor has a string of good luck coming her way.

  2. Elisa -you are so sweet! Gotta laugh sometimes so we don't cry! Your help was sooooo appreciated!

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  5. Love that pic he must be a real trooper...Thanks for stopping by today following you back~Shari

  6. Love this post, stay positive with humor, and the photo is awesome. You are a sweet friend to drop everything and run to help. Hugs!

  7. Cool story! Most people would be broken-hearted at such a sight, but these guys seem to be taking it in stride. Although that basement flooding is some serious stuff. I think they'll need a pump ready for the next big one.

  8. That is quite a bittersweet story to hear. Though it’s great how she had shown a lot of dignity and grace through all that ordeal. She totally deserves this basement being restored into its former glory. Anyway, thank you for sharing her story with us. I hope she has recovered from that by now, if not doing a lot better. Take care!

    Gregg Hogan @ American Basement Solutions