August, 2012 – Graham Miln

Drip, Drip, Dripping

Ominous, the sound of dripping above your head onto a suspended ceiling.

There are builders renovating the apartment above ours. Work has been going on for a few months now, often in bursts of a week at a time. I have become familiar with the noise of drills, heavy items being dropped, and builders music playing during the working hours of the day.

The noise is not too bad and the various trades people coming and going have been friendly.

Layers of graffiti on a prohibited sign.

So yesterday morning, having just finished breakfast, I sat down to work. Above me I heard the first tap. Not unusual given the builders above.

The lone tap was followed another and then another. I knew what was happening but dearly wanted it to be something, anything, else.

Within seconds, the hidden drips emerged becoming a pitter-patter of water cascading down from the tiles onto my desk. Water falling just above an array of power cables, sockets, and electrics.

I bolted to the power supply and killed the power to our apartment. The washing machine in mid-cycle coming to a sudden halt. The fridge gurgling its last gurgle. And my computer and work going dark.

I called out to Megan, who was getting ready for work, for a bucket and towels. As she dealt with the water, I slipped into my trainers and ran upstairs. There was no time to do up my laces, I just ran.

Graffiti covered van; did it happen all at once?
Graffiti covered van; did it happen all at once?

The door to the apartment being renovated was closed, I knocked not having time to decode which door buzzer matched this door. A builder answered quickly and then that sudden realisation hit me.

I did my best.

Oddly, Rosetta Stone has taught me enough to be able to cover this situation. I was not articulate, what I said barely had context, but the builder realised something was wrong, it involved water, and the ceiling. That was all I needed.

They invited me in and we headed down the corridor. The apartment had plaster everywhere, paint chips covered the floor, and no-where was yet liveable. These men were not plumbers working on pipes but decorators or plasterers. Why would water be coming through the ceiling? They had not touched the pipe work.

It only took a few steps to catch sight of the flooding, pooling, and growing expanse of water lapping around the bathroom floor. A tap had been left on and it was now filling up the bathroom with single minded dedication.

With the tap turned off, I was surprisingly pleased. The problem was simple, fixed, and limited. The two men threw down materials to soak up the water and thanked me. As I walked away one ran up behind me and apologised; I was just pleased to know the leak was not serious. It could have been worse.

Downstairs Megan had a bucket catching the water and towels covering the immovable electrics. Out of the way, on the bed lay hard drives, a laptop, and power supplies.

The crisis was under control.