Well, I suppose it started the prior evening, so I will start there. Nikki went to lay down and get some rest. Chris was over hanging out with Grace and me. She was a little cranky, but after an hour or two and a diaper change, she fell asleep in my arms at about 10 pm. At 10:15 I laid her down in the bassinet, fully expecting her to wake up within the next 5-30 minutes. I slowly and quietly backed out of the bedroom and rejoined Chris in the living room, where we ended up watching television and talking until midnight rolled around. Realizing that Nikki only wanted to take a nap, I went in to check on the two of them. Nik woke up and joined us for another couple hours of television and talking Her stomach was still bothering her a little and she hoped it would settle down before Chris left and we decided to turn in for good. Before hitting the hay, we woke Grace up for one more feeding, in the hopes that she would fall back asleep and not wake up right after we get into bed, and she did. We ended up going to bed at about 3:30 am.
I remember waking up for another diaper change and feeding in the middle of the night…perhaps around 5 am. Not sure about that time or when I got back to bed, but I know the next time I woke up it was around 8 am. After Grace ate this time, it was apparent that she would not be going back to bed. Nikki was still not feeling well, so I offered to take Grace out in the living room and keep her occupied so Nikki could sleep off her tummy issues. Grace and I watched golf for a couple hours before waking up Mommy for another feeding. This time, I hopped in the shower while she fed, as we had a big day ahead of us. A big day which I have prepared for by getting 4 or 5 hours of sleep. I was going to drop them off at the In-Law’s house as I had to work a full shift this particular Saturday. The plan was for the two of them to hang out with Grandpa (Grandma is out of town) while I worked, and then that night we would all head over to my parent’s house for dinner.
Well, to cut through the treehole, we ended up departing for the greater Streamwood area at 12 noon. We made (what we hoped would be) a quick stop at Starbucks and arrived at about 12:30 pm. The Cubs had already started and I was hoping to have been at work for at least 30 minutes by this point…but all is well. There is still plenty of time, I thought. After getting them situated I took off for work and arrived at 1. I got to work immediately and immediately I forgot how much more work there is to do on Saturday then during my normal shift. If I might compare it to something like the CDC, during the week…I am working on containment. A virus has broken out and my job is to limit the spread. To oversee the entire area and make sure the population is not at risk. Saturday is a different animal, though. Saturday is the post-apocalyptic cleanup day. Everyone is evacuated or dead. I am there to, not only cleanup the infected bodies, but to disinfect every remaining element of daily life. With so much more to do, I had begun to deeply question my decision to leave work early Friday night and save some of the extra things I could have gotten done for Saturday morning.
Two hours elapse and I have almost completed the upstairs office area (1/2 – 1/3 of the entire job) when Nikki calls and asks if I will be done soon. After a quick “Not a chance,” she says she is hungry and was hoping I could bring her some lunch. Not having eaten in quite some time myself, I agree to leave and pick up some food, as I would not be having dinner until 7 pm or later and I knew I would probably be at work until 6 at the rate I was going. I tried the gyros club sandwich at Chiggy’s, and I would rate it 3 out of 5 stars. The taste is delicious and the portion is generous, but it is a bitch to try and eat. After inhaling my food as quickly as possible I headed back to work where I still had a lot left to do. I received a call from Alex asking me what country Prague was in. He said my Dad and he were just getting onto the Elgin O’Hare, coming back from 6 long hours of stripping and waxing floors at the terminal in Lyons. I informed him that I was still at the Schaumburg terminal and that I would see him for dinner. Not too long after that, I had just switched from Rammstein to Gentle Giant on my iPod, when I turned around and saw Alex. “Calvary’s here,” he proclaimed. He and my Dad asked what work I had left and split up to help me finish it. While I thought at the time it was just a nice gesture…I had no idea how much help I would really need.
Alex split off to take care of the line haul driver’s breakroom, while I remained in the lower offices and Dad headed out to the dock offices. This time was approximately 4:30 or 5:00 pm. Alex came running back after only a minute away and said “Come here. We have a situation. A bad one.” We made haste to the lunchroom where, behind the monolithically retarded ice maker, it appeared to be raining from the ceiling. It looked as though there was some sort of microburst directly above the machine and what seemed to be a monsoon-level storm was pouring forth. Meanwhile, the lunchroom was flooded, the electrical room next to the lunchroom was flooded, the office area adjoined to the lunchroom was flooded and the classroom next to that office area was flooding. Assuming a toilet or sink was overflowing upstairs, Alex and I ran up there to investigate. To our surprise…nothing. Everything was kosher up there…but we could hear, in the wall, the definite sound of running…well…gushing water.
I headed back down to take a look at things again while Alex ran after my Dad to get backup. I climbed upon a shelf next to the ice machine and peered up into the gaping hole in the ceiling where two of the the ceiling tiles had collapsed to the floor under the added weight of so much water. The tiles normally hid all sorts of duct work, copper pipes and wires, none of which I knew the purpose or use of. All I knew is that everything up there was wet and dripping. After a little fiddling around and investigation, I realized that the water was not gravity assisted but was, in fact, shooting up into the ceiling from the floor behind the ice machine. About this time, Alex rejoined me and we pulled the machine away from the wall. Sure as shit, the copper tube that connects the ice machine to the main water line and valve at the baseboard of the wall and floor had come off and absolutely frigid, pressurized water was geysering straight up anywhere from 8-10 feet. Like a plumbing version of Red Adair, I dove right down in there, face first into the geyser and began turning the valve shut. 5 or 10 seconds might not sound like a long time, but when you are staring into a fucking fire hose it feels like an eternity. It seemed as though it would take 20 or 30 turns to shut the valve and cut off the water.
Once I did get the thing shut down…I came back out from behind the machine and only the area between my ankles and my waist was not soaked to the bone. I would later find that the water had penetrated under the glass of my wristwatch, which is waterproof down to 30 meters. I stood up, stepped back a little and Alex asked me how I was. I tried to think of something witty. That didn’t work so then I just tried to say that I was fine, but I am not sure that even worked. I am not sure I was able to give him an answer other than the sound of chattering teeth. It took me a minute or so to regain my composure and then we began to survey the damage. By this point, my Dad was back and we were also joined by the Operations Manager on duty, who had been alerted earlier to call a plumber. I told him to cancel that call, which he did, but he also put a call into the fire department, as a few people in what was now Lake Cubicle keep their computers on the floor and they were plugged in, sitting in an inch of water, and he was concerned about electrocution. Personally, I was only concerned with cleaning that shit up, changing into some dry socks and eating that meatloaf I know my Mom had made for dinner.
It cost the three of us an extra hour or more to get all the water cleaned up. They do not have a wet-dry vacuum there, so we had to use pushbrooms and squeegees to herd the water to the drain underneath the ice machine, which had become blocked by the sludge of decaying, wet ceiling tiles.
It was right about this time when I really began questioning my decision to stay up and hang out with Chris instead of kicking him out and getting myself an extra 4 hours of shuteye.
The flow made it all the way into the dock lunchroom, which is separated from ground zero by two or three walls, and the huge quantity of water going down the drain caused some overflow in the office bathroom drains. The lasting ramifications of this incident will not be felt until water-damaged electronic components begin to fail, until floor tiles begin to become unglued and pop up, until the bottoms of their file cabinets rust out, or until they begin to discover mold in the water-logged walls. That is not our concern, though. As for us…we contained the virus and cleaned up the red zone, so to speak. After finishing up all the work we had forgone to attend to the disaster, at approximately 7 pm the three of us sauntered out of there like the opening credits in Reservoir Dogs. Sure, we did not have the suits or sunglasses and we weren’t walking in slo-mo, but there was a certain sense of odd pride and hilarity as we exhaustedly joked about the incident as we headed out to our cars only to meet up again about an hour later for that delicious meatloaf.