Thursday, April 01, 2010

When do I get to sleep in?

People keep asking me "so, now that you're laid off, what are you gonna do?" Instantly my reaction is "Sleep In Late."

Or I go the Homer Simpson route and say "Well first I'm gonna get really drunk...."

I've done neither. Not sure if I am disappointed in myself for not doing either. I've found that I take the kids to school, come back here, get on facebook, and then do some cleaning. And then I pump out the basement. And then I go on facebook. And then I let the dogs out. And then the kids are home. And then. and then and then...

Tomorrow I can sleep in. No one needs to go to school. I don't have getting drunk like Homer on my list of things to do, but all told, a glass of wine would be nice.

One thing that I've been doing a lot of is running the sump pump in our basement. Three weeks ago we had a catastrophic rainstorm. About ten inches of rain in 72 hours. Records were broken, chaos ensued. We left for church on the Sunday morning that the rain was really trucking, and I heard the sump pump running but didn't think anything of it. It was running like a champ, like it has for almost 4 years when we get some rain. We got home and I could hear it. I got some laundry together at about 2pm and went downstairs to discover about 7 inches of water on the floor.

The sump pump was running, but not sucking any water out of the basement. I brought it to Doug's attention, and he decided to go find a new sump pump at the store. I went to an Eagle Court of Honor for our Boy Scout Troop. I got home at 7pm that night and Doug still wasn't back. He had to go to 10 different stores to find a sump pump. He went down to hook it up, and we couldn't hook it into our system so we had to run a hose out the window to pump the water out.

There I was at 11pm, running a hose down to the street to get the water away from our house. Good thing I love my life.

I looked across the street as I was unraveling the hose, and saw my new neighbor throwing a bucket of water out his back door. They had just moved in back in October, and I didn't know them well but knew that they went to the same college I did. We met while their kids were trick-or-treating. Already they'd had a tree fall over on their car in December during the first snow storm and here they are bailing out their basement. I told Doug that I felt that I should go over to help. He opted out, since he spent four hours driving around America looking for a new pump for our basement.... and I can't say as I blame him.

I grabbed a bucket and went across the street. When Ben came out on the side porch I said "need some help?" and held the bucket up. Ben smiled and invited me in. I spent the next 90 minutes helping him and his wife bail out the basement. We took out about an inch of water, and then they decided it just wasn't going to make a difference if we kept going. At least we had a couple laughs, and I got to meet the new neighbors. New ish. Not totally new. But you know what I mean.

The following day, our hot water heater was under water, the pilot out, the gas off. Doug and the kids went to work and school (or maybe the kids had no school, I can't remember at this point). I stayed home, manning the pump and monitoring the situation. At one point I was convinced that the pump wasn't working so I went out to check my hose. Looking across the street, I saw that the fire department was there pumping out the neighbor's basement. And the two houses next to them. So one came across and asked how our basement was and asked to evaluate it.

"You should have called us yesterday, when the water got close to the water heater." They had the basement pumped out in no time. Literally, an hour. Done. I got to hang out in my basement chatting with my town's finest, apologizing for bothering them.

"It's our job, Chris" said Lt. York. "We get paid to do this, and your tax dollars go to us doing this so ... use us. We're not just for when your house is on fire."

I ended up calling the next day again, when the water got to be a few inches away from the hot water heater. We had the plumber come out and flush out the tank and relight the system... and I didn't want it to get wet again. They confirmed that our sump pump was not working. We'd burned through the second one in less than 2 days. Doug bought another one on the way home from work.

Our basement hasn't been water-free since the first storm really. This week we got yet another storm with about six inches of rain. It could be worse, we could be living in Rhode Island where everything is completely trashed.

As for our basement, we have to wait until it is fully dry to install the sump pump exactly right, and until then it has to be plugged in manually. On that note, I'll be right back. About every 2 hours or so I have to plug it in, and it takes about 90 minutes to empty out the basement. Wash rinse repeat.

That's been my life since getting laid off, really. Rather thrilling.

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