Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Age of Aquarius?

I hate water.

Wait, no I don't. I love long showers. I love hot baths. I love water with a slice of cucumber. I love swimming. I love the rain (as long as it's not cold outside and there's no tornado attached). I love the sound of the ocean and the feel of the waves washing over my feet..

I hate unexpected, UNWELCOME water. You know, the kind that flows into my life and bites me in the bum every so often.

If I think about it, I guess it kind of started when I was in high school. My friend Jamie and I almost drowned off the coast of Florida. Long story short, we drifted too far out on floats and ended up in a bad undertow. We obviously didn't drown, but it wasn't without help and not without Jamie losing some hair--it was the only part of her I could hold on to so that she didn't go under while she panicked. The experience didn't deter my love for swimming, but it did give me an entirely new respect for the ocean (I don't go out past my waist now).

But this experience is different from those that followed. I willingly entered the Atlantic. My other bad experiences with water have been inflicted upon me.

Then again, maybe this is some sort of Final Destination thing. The water is determined to get me.

It started in the summer of 2001. John and I were moving our few belongings from Henderson to Memphis...on a flatbed trailer (can I stop here and say this WASN'T my idea and I was COMPLETELY against it?). I just knew someone would hit the trailer and spread our stuff all over I-40. In this regard, I'm lucky. We DID make it to Memphis, but only after a torrential downpour. Seriously, the animals were gathering around in pairs.

Everything was soaked. My kitchen table warped. The drawers in my dresser fell apart. It was a mess. It rained so much that day that the road we lived on flooded (more on that in a second) and part of the roof at a local mall collapsed.

In the end, we laughed it off as a good story we'd have about moving into our first apartment (though I still would rather make 100 trips with my car than use a flatbed trailer)

Now flash forward to the Summer of 2002. John and I went to Boston to visit friends. When we returned to Memphis, I noticed a lot of debris hanging out from the bottom of my car and from the tailpipe. As I walked over to investigate, our kindly neighbor, Mr. Frank, came out and said, "I have some bad news." Our apartment sat almost on top of Walnut Grove Road. Remember when I mentioned flooding earlier? This was the road. Not all of it floods, just where we lived. We still maintain the "person" who developed that area was a drunken chimpanzee. There had been a torrential downpour and the water backed up into our parking lot and turned it into a small pond for a couple of hours. Dumpsters floated away. A car floated away. Children were swimming around in it (sadly, I'm serious about that. Their parents must have been drunken chimpanzees, too).

The good news was that Mr. Frank's grandkids had saved my car from being smashed by a dumpster. The bad news was that my car had been almost completely submerged. This happened about four days prior to our arrival home, so the car sat for DAYS in the hot Tennessee sun with water standing inside.

The car and everything inside was ruined. All my CDs in the floorboard are warped. The entire interior was molded and turned from red to white. The engine wouldn't start. The electrical system was kaput. And the smell, oh Sweet Jeebus, the smell. If I had words to describe it, they wouldn't be appropriate for this blog. The guy who came to tow it away wouldn't even get inside long enough to put it in neutral. He dragged the car onto the tow truck which produced a sound like something small and furry dying.

The car was completely totaled, of course. And not just any car. It was my FIRST car, my Ozzie. Nothing flashy, just a 1995 Thunderbird. But it was mine, my ThunderOSTRICH. Ozzie the ThunderOstrich. *sigh*

John took pictures of me with it before they dragged it away, but I just can't post them. Too painful. Here's Ozzie in happier days.

**Side note: State Farm gave us what the car was worth and more... and then raised our premiums. Never mind that their OFFICE had to evacuated due to the VERY SAME FLOOD. We're with AllState now.

Flash forward to New Years Eve 2003. John and I call it an early night and head back home between 11 and 11:30. And thank goodness we did. I walk into the apartment and head d0wn the hall toward the bathroom. As I enter the hall, water surges from the carpet and COVERS my feet. My hallway is soaked! I run into the guest room. Water is everywhere and is currently gushing onto the bed (which is covered in clean clothes I needed to hang up). The mattress is soaked through to the box springs. The closet and everything in it--clothes, files, the stuffed animal collection John won from the Claw Machine--it's all soaked. As I head back into the hall, I notice water cascading down the wall behind my washer and dryer.

But I'm getting ahead of myself...

See, the apartment above us was a "holding ground" for illegal Mexicans. The guy who rented the apartment (but didn't live there) would house Mexicans until they could find somewhere to stay. The apartment was a revolving door of anywhere from 3 to 5 tenants. They weren't bad neighbors to have, though. They tried to keep a low profile since they didn't want attention drawn to themselves. Every so often, we'd have to ask them to turn their music down because a new guy would crank up his circa-1986 ghetto blaster with some bumping back-home music (I swear to you I'm not making this up--that radio was in a Beastie Boys video). The only other bad experience was when someone puked on our front door during a Cinco de Mayo shindig (it was promptly cleaned up).

This brings us back to New Years. It seems that there was a new group of guys living upstairs. It also seems they weren't familiar with an appliance we call a washing machine. They had the basics down--clothes in, add soap, turn on. But there was a certain finesse missing. When the maintenance guys finally got into the apartment (no one was home) they found the washing machine that appeared to be possessed by Satan. It was so full of clothes, that it had completely kicked out from the wall. The water had continued running for hours--down the wall and into our apartment. I hate to admit it, but I considered calling Immigration.

The apartment management wasn't happy either. Know how much it costs to get a carpet guy out at midnight on New Year's Eve? Um, yeah.

Luckily, we salvaged everything except some files, a few stuffed animals and a couple of shirts. I'm sure the apartment had mold four inches thick in the ceiling and walls, but they weren't about to pay to rip it all out and redo it. It's no wonder I was ALWAYS sick when I lived there.

So I've had to refurbish/replace my furniture, replace my car and half of my CDs, throw away some of my "Claw" babies, and squeeze out a queen sized mattress.

Now it's June of 2005. We are leaving for St. Louis in three days (to live, not to visit). My parking lot--which had not flooded since I lost Ozzie--FLOODS! At this point, I'm driving a Camry, my mom's old car which I darn near coveted. Luckily, I get my car out before it gets too bad, but not before water creeps into my floorboard. To be safe, I take it Abra. They say they'll have to keep it until the claims guy comes from the insurance company. They ended up having it for a MONTH. During that time, I made several trips to Jackson from STL because my car was supposed to be done. I'd get here to find it hadn't even been looked at! They kept saying it would have to be totaled. All it needed was a good cleaning, but because they let it sit, they had to replace the carpet, mats and some wiring. It was a nightmare. And then the insurance company threatened not to pay for my rental (they did--my agent was a maniac who made some very ugly phone calls on my behalf).

What's the count now? Four incidences? Today's number five. It could have been SO much worse, but it just adds to my theory that water not a friend I can trust.

Earlier this evening, I went into our bathroom and heard water gushing, like the sound the tub makes when it's on except INSIDE the wall. The Mr. was running the sprinklers outside. We're not sure what went wrong, but something is jacked up with the faucet on the side of the house. We don't know what the inside of the wall looks like, but my closet had water standing in it. Luckily, we got the carpet up and will only have to replace the pad. Mr. told me they may have to go through the wall to fix it. I almost threw up. Said wall is where my tub sits, my super big wonderful tub that I use all the time. The one place I can go and not fear the reaper water.

I can't win.

By the way, anyone remember when I wanted to move to New Orleans instead of STL? In 2001? Surprised?

1 comment:

Greg said... when was this? geez, thats nuts girl. i hope everything gets taken care of the way......i am thinkin we should never be on a boat together.....just a thought;).