Pam vs Shower

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I left from Rhode Island on Sunday in my Vokswagen Jetta, with everything I could fit jammed in the little sedan with me. I was bound for Boulder, Colorado, where I knew exactly two people. I arrived in Boulder on Wednesday evening. I had driven through Kansas that day. This was more boring than watching golf on TV and took longer than the wait time in an emergency room. Finally, I arrived in Colorado and the landscape began to change. Hallelujah! I was even a little ahead of schedule. I imagined I would have some time to bebop around town before heading to my first appointment. I was to see one apartment at 6 p.m. and another at 7:30. I was waylaid however by a nasty snowstorm. About 50 miles from my destination, the traffic grew dense, the roads became slick, and at one point the snow was so blinding I had to pull over and take a break until the visibility improved. Argh. I just wanted to get there already.

I did manage to see both apartments, although I was delayed by about an hour. Finally I concluded the business of finding a home (to be continued the next day) around 9 p.m. My body thought it was 11 p.m. due to the time change. My mind thought it was 3 a.m. due to uprooting my whole life and driving nearly 2,000 miles alone over four days. Well, not totally alone. I had the constant, comforting presence of my GPS.

Exhausted, I arrived at the door of the kind friends who offered me a place to crash while I got settled. I should state that I use the term “friends” loosely. To be accurate, the husband was someone I’d met on my Arizona bike trip this fall and had not stayed in contact with, up until a recent email exchange where I announced I was moving to his town and did he know anyone who needed a tenant or a roommate. I had before never laid eyes on his wife, two daughters, or his two lhasa apsos. The couple welcomed me graciously, showed me to the guest room, gave me a towel, and retired to their bedroom.

I longed to lay my weary head down on one of the half dozen fluffy pillows that adorned the guest bed, but first I needed a shower. The water pressure was superb. The warmth soothed my aching back. But all good things must come to an end. I turned the faucet and began to step out of the shower when I realized the water was still on, but now cold. I turned the other way. Now the water was still on and threatening to scald me. I experimented, turning the knob clockwise … counterclockwise … up, down, right, left, yanking on it with all my might, pressing on it directly, then from a 45 degree angle, to no avail. Anxiously I tried all my clever techniques about ten times, hearing my own judgmental voice in my head, “You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results!”


Ten minutes later, soaking wet and totally panicked I jumped out of the shower, gave myself a cursory pat with a towel, threw on some pj’s and ran upstairs, nearly breaking the dog gate as I crossed the threshold of the staircase, hoping I could alert my hosts of the problem before they were fully asleep. I approached their bedroom, nervous and out of breath. There was the altitude to consider but still, how relaxed can you be as you imagine yourself waking up the lovely people who welcomed you, a virtual stranger (at least to the wife who lets face it is probably the decision maker) into their home to say “Thanks so much for having me. Sorry for waking you up. I just wanted to let you know I broke your shower. Can you wake up and show me how to fix it?” I would rather have attended a Barbara Streisand concert. I seriously considered letting the water run all night as I crept toward their bedroom. I approached the dark hallway off the dining room and I saw doors. Four doors to be exact. One was the bathroom. The other three were mysteries. I knew two were each of their daughters and one was theirs. Which was which? I had no way of knowing. It was like a game show where you try to guess which door is hiding a brand new car, except there was no new car and the consequence of guessing wrong was waking the whole family on a school/work night. I was not in a gambling mood and something told me tonight was not my lucky night. I scampered back down to the basement and did what any healthy normal twenty-nine-year-old woman would do.

I called my mother. She said to turn off the same way I turned it on. Duh. That wasn’t working. She asked me what I thought she was supposed to do over the phone. This was a good question.

“I don’t know! I’m freaking out. I have no idea what to do.”

She suggested I call them from my cell phone. This would surely wake them. I really didn’t want to do this, but it seemed the only option. Neither of their cell phones were on however. Now what!? My heart pounded in my chest as the sound of the rushing water echoed in the background. I entered the water heater closet. I looked around. I considered shutting off the water from there. I realized I did not know how to do this. It was probably not a good idea anyway.

I felt a crushing sense of despair. I saw myself tossing and turning unable to sleep with the sound of the water, dreading the morning when I would have to admit that the water had run all night and I had broken the shower. I could not let this happen. I had to try one last time. If I stripped every thread in that faucet, so be it. I could not live with defeat. I faced the bathroom door and walked in with a purpose. With every fiber of strength I could muster, I leaned into that son of a bitch and turned it clockwise as if my life depended on it. My grunt was met with sweet sound of silence. The mad rush of water ceased. Sweet redemption was mine.

I called my mother back and told her everything was okay. And I knew, as I drifted off into a heavy slumber, parched, unable to fully inhale, in town where I was basically anonymous, that everything would continue to be okay. I had conquered the shower. There was no battle I could not win.


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