A Most Unfortunate Catastrophe

My parents have a very large walk-in closet in their room, which they’ve intended to convert into a bathroom for the last 5 to 10 years. They are just getting around to it now. So yesterday my dad and the girls were working on it. Someone (who will remain unnamed) put a dirty paintbrush in the sink (this is in the other upstairs bathroom that we’ve always had), closed the drain, and turned the water on…intending to come back in about 30 seconds to turn it off. And of course, if the person got distracted, there’s always that safety drain at the top of the sink.

I was happily writing away in my room, music cranked up and trying very hard to be oblivious to the noise and commotion outside my door as my dad cut wood, drilled holes to China (or so it seemed) and my sisters tried to be louder than the loudest noise my dad could muster.

When suddenly I heard my dad’s voice, very urgent, “Go get Mom, QUICK!!!”

You can tell what is going on (to some extent) by the tone of someone’s voice. This was my dad’s very rare and extremely serious voice. This was the voice that one would use if someone were having a heart attack or had just been electrocuted. Although I had been trying to ignore their proceedings, I did rather unconsciously know that my dad had just been in the closet-soon-to-be-bathroom and had walked out in the hall when he began shouting. My father also has a slight reputation for exaggerating (…that’s another story for another day…) so my first thought was, “oh, he cut a hole in the wrong wall” or some other sort of construction mistake which, looking back, was a very odd idea because my dad is meticulous about what he does. The old saying goes, “measure twice, cut once”…well, my dad measures about six times, draws three diagrams, measures again, and then cuts. So it would have been extremely unlikely that he would have done something like that. So that all ran through my head in about 5 seconds when I heard his voice again, “Go get Mom, and get some towels!!!!” I have a deep aversion to writing more than one word in all caps, but to be most precise you can imagine that quote to be in all capital letters. It was at this point that I realized something was wrong. Terribly wrong.

I rushed out to the hall, and I don’t even remember if I paused my music. The catastrophe?

The water was still running, the drain was still closed, and the emergency drain at the top edge of the sink didn’t work.

The result?

Water was dripping from the cabinet down to the floor. I thought for one lovely moment that perhaps that was it. “Oh, a little overflow…nothing that a few towels can’t take care of.” And then my dad opened the top drawer of the cabinet and discovered it too was overflowing with water. Bobbie pins, hair brushes and makeup containers were floating on a sea of murky water.

Why murky?

Remember the paintbrush put into the sink at the very beginning? It was full of paint. So the water that leaked from the sink was whitish, disgusting paint water.

It was at this point we started to panic. But then my dad said in a tense panicky voice, “we can’t panic. Don’t panic. Think. Think. What to do now? Don’t panic.” My mom ran downstairs and got a small cooking pan which we used to take some of the water out of the drawer. The situation became more complicated when we realized that the water was full of beads, pins, and all sorts of junk, so we couldn’t really just pour it down the drain. My mom had to try to strain the water with her hands as my dad poured it in the sink.

The biggest concern was that enough water had reached the floor and started to leak through to the ceiling below. We checked it every few minutes and finally concluded that the ceiling was safe. That was good news, for I was beginning to envision the ceiling of our family room crumbling and those of us standing above it falling through the rubble some 10 feet down.

After this the catastrophe just became annoying. We had a huge garbage bag full of soaking wet towels. Everything in that drawer needed to be sorted to determine what was ruined and what survived.

It was a memorable experience, but not so memorable I would want to repeat it.

So that’s how we spent a good part of our Monday afternoon. 🙂

One Comment

  1. Oh no! I know we have had some overflows but never that bad. I guess that’s a good lesson in not leaving a running faucet alone. 🙂

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