Sunday, April 29, 2007

My Lucky Streak Continues

I'm lucky. Oh, not hit-the-lotto lucky, mind you. Though if I played it, who knows? And I don't mean to imply that life just flows along effortlessly with things just falling in my lap. Hardly! But I'm lucky in the sense that thing just seem to work out well for me. Even bad things seem to turn out ok in the end.

Case in point was my small household disaster this week. On Wednesday, I came home from work to find that my bathroom sink off my bedroom was filled with dirt that was clearly dried from some liquid soaking the whole thing.

Well that's odd, I thought. How on Earth did the sink back up like that? Everything around the sink was dry so there was no harm. But I couldn't figure out how the sink had backed up. What the heck happened? All the other sinks were fine. Oh well. I cleaned up the sink, tossed a nearby washcloth into the laundry just in case and forgot about it.

Thursday morning I woke up in a minor funk. Work has been insanely busy for three months now, and after catching up a bit a few weeks ago my backlog has shot up again. Even the Legislature's spring break didn't help much. Ugh. So I lay there about a minute contemplating just how I might play hooky. Sick? Nope. Ah, crap.

Nothing to do but get up and get on with it. So I showered and forgot about the brief flirtation with a day off. But as I'm brushing my teeth (man, this blogging stuff is fascinating, ain't it?), I glanced up and spotted a split in the seam of the ceiling. With a sudden understanding of what had happened yesterday, I stepped back into my bedroom still looking up. Yep, two big stains were over my desk and filing cabinet with all my important papers in there--from military records to divorce papers and mortgage information. I finished up that teeth-brushing I wrote of before and moved the desk and cabinet out from underneath the pre-waterfall. With rain threatening that day I discarded the thought of just going to work and dealing with the problem the next day. Funny how my first impulse was to go to work rather than deal with the leak problem, when fifteen minutes earlier I was imagining that I'd really like a day off.

But with rain coming that day, I knew that the leak had to be dealt with. And the water spots on the ceiling in my bedroom meant that I wouldn't be as lucky as I was the first time. Imagine, the leak was right over my sink! I don't know how long it leaked, but if it had been over wooden furniture or even the carpet, I would have had quite the damage problem. Plus, since I have a new roof no more than a couple years old, this could be serious. So I called into work and I called the condo management to report the problem.

And then I waited.

I couldn't even blog or read news. I just kept checking the ceiling every half hour or so as I watched the rain start and stop. Finally I called the company again to ask just where on Earth the crew was. Turns out there were actual emergencies. No problem, I said, I understand emergencies take priority. But I'd like to know when they might arrive. I could run errands if I only knew when they'd arrive. Heck, I could have done them all had I known that it would take this long.

By now it was raining quite a bit. And the leak was starting up. It wasn't much of a leak. Just drips--no pouring deluge or anything. Yet the water was splattering all over the place. Just on the counter, mind you, but the spray pattern clearly covered a large area. Luckily it didn't reach my contact lens stuff or electronics (just an electric shaver).

But my tooth brush holder was clearly in the splash zone ... Wonderful.

So I threw my tooth brush out--about two teeth brushings too late, mind you. Ah Crest with Attic Wash Enhancers! It doesn't bear thinking what that splashing water flowed through to get to my sink and tooth brush.

Really, though, my luck in having a leak precisely over my sink amazed me all the more. A leak over the carpet would have wrecked the carpet and done a job on the floor below it, too. Talk about a major insurance claim.

The work crew called and said they were on the way. The man asked if I knew where the attic access is. You bet. He asked if I would clear it so they could get to work when they arrived. No problem, I said.

So I cleared out the closet so he'd have clear access. Two men arrived and they tried to shake the ladder of the water. It was raining, you know. So I offered a towel and the assistant wiped it down. We shook hands all around and I showed them the way. The guy in charge checked out the leak location than headed into the attic. Five minutes later he was back down with pictures on his digital camera that showed the entire path of the water, from my ceiling leak up to the chimney where he could see light coming in. He said he'd have to come back to fix it. And he thanked me for clearing the closet. He said it saved them time and my condo association money. I said I figured they had plenty to do so why waste their time? I got the impression that when he asks people to prepare for his arrival that this request is not often fulfilled. Very odd.

With it raining on and off I was a bit worried that they'd have to come back to fix this problem. I was really eager to get this resolved before my ceiling caved in. As we walked down the stairwell, he pointed to the chimney on the other side. That's where your leak is. We walked outside and looked at my chimney. Well that's the problem, he said, your chimney cap is gone. See that chimney across the way? It is capped. Yours doesn't have a cap.

Come with me, I said, I think I know where we can find one.

Last Sunday, while I was outside playing with Mister and Lamb, I spotted a big metal thing with sharp edges and nails attached, sitting in the little alcove-like area between my place and the adjacent units' entry and stairwell. At the time I was pretty pissed off that somebody had dumped it there. What if Mister or Lamb had fallen on it and cut themselves? I picked it up and almost hauled it off to the dumpster. But then I stopped. What if someone needed it? Could I just really toss it in the trash without knowing why it was there? So I left it propped in the corner where it would not pose a threat to children. And then I forgot about it.

Until I found out about that thing called a chimney cap. Sure enough, that thing was a chimney cap. It must have blown off in the wind storm we had about a week and a half earlier. I wish I'd known it was a chimney cap--my chimney cap! I could have stopped the whole problem in its tracks. But instead, off and on rain worked its way toward the ceiling over my sink during that time.

But hey, now the crew could haul the cap up to the roof and nail it back in place. The damage was at least contained and my ceiling would not cave in after all.

Then I managed to go grocery shopping, buy a slip-and-slide at another store, and then grab a high ceiling cleaning kit that can be used to change high light bulbs. I've been casually looking for one of these for almost six years. My bulbs in my stairwell lights haven't died yet, but without this device I would have been helpless had they burned out. Now the Light Fixture of Damocles inspires no fear in me.

I need to find out if the crew will come back to caulk the chimney or whatever or whether the problem is considered solved. And I want the ceiling to dry before deciding whether I can just paint the bedroom ceiling stain and get the bathroom ceiling patched or whether both areas must have the dry wall replaced. The association should pick this cost up, I should think.

Then I read a bit and washed a sink full of dishes before picking up Mister and Lamb for the evening. And the next day it would be back to work. The pile on my desk could only grow while I was gone and not shrink (and since I checked my work email during the day I confirmed that it grew. Ugh).

So there you go. That was my lucky day. Luck the leak was over a sink that contained the damage to a tooth brush. And luck I hadn't let anger shoot me in the foot by unknowingly throwing away my chimney cap. And I did actually get a day off after all from the frenzy at work. Not that I'm not paying for a missed day of tackling that pile, of course.

Plus my digestive tract seems to have survived whatever it was that I brushed my teeth with.

So my lucky streak continues. Things really do just seem to work out for me.

Yeah, I know, not exactly Ferris Buehler's day off. But I said I'm lucky and make no claims to leading a particularly exciting life. I'll leave the lion taming to others.