It started with a phone call from my mum. I was pooping. I answered with uh–huh’s, yeah’s and hold- on-a-sec. I covered the mouthpiece, flushed and took up the soul destroying, too-much information position by the window.
I loved the view from the 4th floor – it was almost parallel to the roof of the pool. Gravel, dirt and air conditioning bulk. It was always a nice contrast to the bright blue or black, but rarely in-between, Oklamhoma sky. The Radisson on 41st was a home away from home. One week every other week - I spent half a year in that hotel. I knew people at that hotel.
30 minutes later and I’m still saying uh-huh - thinking of the joint comforts of room service and internet porn. Then I notice a twinkle in the hallway. Closer inspection reveals a steady stream of water seeping from underneath the bathroom door and out into the hallway beyond. Oh shit! Literally.
I’m used to working hot issues. It’s what I do for a living. Software issue at a casino? Losing $1200 a minute in fines and lost revenue? No big deal. I’m the best at what I do. I’m the fixer… So I tell my mum that I need to call her back. I pick up the phone next to the bed. I call down to reception only to discover that I’ve lost my composure. And I NEVER lose my composure…
“Uh, yeah, hello… Hello Marcy, how are you?...”
“Good, good. Well I’m uh ok, I guess…”
“I had a long, uh ah, day at the office today…”
“How can you, um, help me? Oh yes, right… see that’s the thing…”
“I’ve flooded my room in poop water!”
I think she hung up. I didn’t know what to do next. I flung open the bathroom door like I meant business. A torrent of water ran between my ankles and instantly soaked my socks. Up to my ankles, I paddled around like a kid in a splash park. How is this possible? Water is flowing so fast that the trash can has been pushed against the door. I can do this, I tell myself. I look for the shut –off, shit-off value turny thingy. This toilet doesn’t have one! Now what? I know. I’ll call my mum…
“Mum, yeah, it’s me again. I think I flooded the room. The toilet won’t stop flushing. There’s poopy water everywhere.”… splash, splash, whimper “… help me… mum?”
Then my mum starts laughing. Big belly laughs. Then she’d stop, breath in, compose herself and start again. Bollocks! I could see she wasn’t going to help. I clicked her away and got back to the business of panicking.
I didn’t know what to try next. Staring at it really hard didn’t seem to do much so I decided to open the room door. I figured the maintenance man would be here any second. Even if he didn’t get the call from reception, he’d likely know there was a problem. In about 10 minutes, he’d be getting a shower down in basement. Isn’t that where all maintenance people live – down in the basement?
I poked my head around the door and saw my lil jobbies floating down the hallway towards the elevator. I closed my eyes and pinched myself. This couldn’t really be happening to me, could it?
Extreme embarrassment coupled with a profound sense of relief. I wanted to cry more at that moment than at any other time in my life. And then my savior arrived! Complete with a tool belt, tool box, builders cleavage and a shop vac. First a stroll in the far off distance. Power walking next. Finally he was sprinting towards me. Then he arrived. His first words were “Oh shit!”. Second were “out-of-way”.
In one fluid motion the maintenance guy had pushed me aside, paddled across the rapids, whipped the back of the toilet off and jammed a wrench somewhere dark and damp. With a gurgle and a grunt from maintenance guy the water slowed to a trickle until it finally stopped.
Maintenance guy called reception. All I heard was
“…unless you want to bring up a canoe, you’ll need to move him to a new room”… I took up residence outside in the hallway – upstream of course – and waited for further instruction.
I sat with my head in my hands. I stared hard at the floor and waited for it open up and swallow me whole. I didn’t have to wait long. My next door, downstream, neighbor opened her door. She shot a look at my door, down the hall and back to me.
“You did this didn’t you?” she said. Her face said the rest “…you dirty little boy!”
She was obviously disgusted, (and rightly so) appalled. I watched a bit of toilet paper glide past her feet. I nodded and started to smile. The smile gave way to a giggle. When I looked up she was still there. Then my giggle turned into full on belly laugh. I just couldn’t stop myself! She slammed the door.
I’m pretty sure that they had to evacuate the whole floor. On my way to my new room, I looked back and said to myself “oh yes, I did that”. I did that.