Yesterday, I became the Lucy with flour on her nose and batter in her hair. Or something, and it all began very early.
About the time I yanked myself into focus with the first cup of very black tea, I heard a knock at the door. I went downstairs, still in my long flannel nightgown, and opened the inside door to a tall man who said, “Are you having any sewer back up?” And I said, “No,” and he said, “Good. Thanks a lot,” and began to leave. And I said, “Could you take those yellow flags with you?” and he said, “Sure,” and pulled them out and went away.
You see, there’s a back story to the above photo which I took through the window this morning although current story began yesterday.
Back Story: ten days ago on a Sunday morning, my husband noticed water pouring out of a hole in front of our house next to the curb; I called the emergency city number and reported it. They came and over the next week, day after day a repair project went on: a big yellow machine like the one you see in the above photo but driven by another man, pounded out the already weak and troubled side walk slabs in front of the house, dug a hole, neatly, men climbed down into it, and over the next several days, a series of events occurred which included repairing the water main leak, replacing a section of sewer pipe next to it, refilling the hole, replacing the sidewalk slabs with new cement, replacing the dug out ground next to the curb, and seeding it all with grass seed. Done. Neatly. And over the succeeding week which I guess was last week but I had a bad head cold and nothing was making sense, people stopped by to see if we had…well, whatevers, and I told them all what good work the city did, and they said thank you and went away until the next round of whoever coming by to check and see if everything was okay. We had three days of quiet with no one checking until yesterday morning. End of Back Story.
So. Yesterday: tall man came, went away and took left over yellow flags with him.
A short time later, I came into the writing desk for something, goodness only knows what at this point, and saw out the window a man planting yellow flags and spraying paint on the grass and street. I went out and said, “They just dug this up and fixed it,” and he said, “I don’t know anything about it I’m just spraying lines.” So he did and checked the gas meter and planted more flags and went away.
About that time, two men showed up with a big Water department truck. I went out and said to the young man standing in front of the house, “They just did this a week ago.” And he said, “I don’t know, he has the order,” and pointed down the street to a man at the corner with another truck. “Oh,” I said. “Okay.”
And then, well, it’s been bedlam. Checking lines, them standing and staring down at the new cement blocks, me telling them that if they were going to dig, to dig up that crumbled bit of sidewalk and replace it and the young man laughed, and then the main man, more serious, called someone and I stood on the step saying what the others had done and the man with the phone relayed the information.
In the meantime, I started cleaning the humidifier because we’d had head colds and it hadn’t been cleaned in probably two weeks and taking it apart and rinsing it with vinegar water etc etc etc, to remove build ups of calcium, and the older man knocked to ask if we’d had any backup and I asked where it would be and he said back into the toilets or into the basement and I said no there hadn’t been and he went away and I went back to cleaning the humidifier.
(By the way, we need to remember to do that each Sunday or it gets too caked on. I had to scrape and scower. How do you spell scrub hard?)
And then they knocked on the door again, both the young man and the old man and had a paper cup with stuff in it and said they wanted me to flush this down a toilet but be careful and don’t get anything on your hands it won’t come off. So I did and they stood in the middle of the block looking down a sewer hole at something, water flow I guess, and I flushed the toilet (and had to scrub it as some of the red stuff splashed) and flushed and flushed and in the meantime another backhoe showed up and there were more phone calls, and the colored stuff never made it down the line so now the street in front of our house is blocked off, and cones out and God only knows what’s going to happen next, but it looks like more digging.
My husband would not be able to come home to his wife with cake batter in her hair.
Or maybe it’s calcium. Who knows. But the humidifier is clean but I didn’t know how to put it back together.
The backhoe or whatever that big yellow machine is called with the bucket on front (I call it a dinosaur), pounded and pounded on the new cement slabs, which were, obviously, well constructed, until the whole house shook (this is a 1924-build house with stucco sides and walls) and I went outside and said, “The whole house is shaking! This is going to crack walls!” But by then the dinosaur was clamping up bits of shattered concrete and re-digging the hole that was dug maybe ten days ago. Much less neatly, by the way.
That was yesterday. They dug the big hole, covered it with plywood and went away. For the night to their families I presume but if I did that job, I’d probably head straight for a bar. My husband did come home although he had to park around the block until they finished yesterday and then he parked in our driveway where the dinosaur was no longer sitting.
Now it’s today. The hole is still there. Four men stand around looking down most of the time. It seems to have befuddled them. Oh! Wait! A new truck has arrived! It has a large spool of what looks like a blue hose and the blue hose or whatever it is seems to be flushing out or rinsing or who-know-what.
I have not gone outside to admonish or ask today. Husband left for work before dinosaur arrived. He said to let it be. I have. Mostly. Closing all doors to the writing room so I didn’t hear the banging or see the standing around and get frustrated.
But now I’m sitting here and writing in front of the window in front of my writing desk.
I think I need to go have some yogurt. And not get it in my hair.
Your friend, Lucy.