Monday, September 10, 2007

Waterworld

Yes, I know that "Waterworld" is the worst of the bad Kevin Costner movies. But then, this post has a pretty bad storyline, too. Read it and weep, Jeff, and know that I envy you your culprit....

Last Wednesday I got my water bill, and it was a whopper. One hundred six dollars--and eighty cents. (It looks so much worse written out like that.) Usually it's not until the dead of winter when I get the gas bill that I shriek and fall onto the porch floor in shock. So after I picked myself up I called the water company and had this conversation:

Me: "Peg? This is Jaynie. I think somethin's wrong with my water bill."
Peg: "Yeah, me and Henry were just talkin' about that. It's about three times what it usually is, and I don't see how you could use 26,000 gallons in a month."
Me: "So, whaddya think?"
Peg: "Henry?! C'mere a minute!"
Henry: "I think you prolly gotta leaky toilet. I knew you were workin' nights, so I din't wanna bother you. Now be a good time to come out?"
God, I love living in a small town!

So Henry came out, shut off the water to the house, and immediately noticed that the meter continued to spin. He also noticed that we've used 8,600 gallons of water in the ten or so days since he last read the meter. Now remember that it's just, me, my son, and our herd of animals living here. We don't have a pool or a water park in the yard, and I'm not taking in laundry for extra money. (Yet, anyway.) Then Henry dumped bright blue dye into both toilets and we waited to see if they leaked. Of course not. (By the way, I really, really, wanted to take pictures of that process, but thought better of it.) Henry shuffled his feet, cleared his throat a couple of times and looked at me with his basset-hound eyes, so I knew it was gonna be really bad news. It was--a leak between the house and the street, which was my cost to fix and which I briefly thought might possibly be covered by the year warranty on the house that the sucky previous owners had given me. Guess what? It's not covered! Of course not. After all, the warranty was provided by the sucky previous owners, who SUCK, so of course anything you might actually need help paying for is not covered by warranty. So Henry gave me the cell phone number of a guy in town who could fix the water line and I called him:

Me: "Rick? This is Jaynie. Henry gave me your number." And I gave him the story and asked if he could fix it.
Rick: "I'm over here by your Aunt Janet's house, hon. Can you wait about 15 minutes?"
God, I love living in a small town!

In less than 15 minutes we were standing in the front yard with my little blind dog while Rick explained how he was going to fix it and his assistant Charlie stood behind me to catch me when I fell over after hearing the estimate. Did you know that copper costs $5 a foot and that I would need nearly a hundred feet of it, and that labor to do something like this costs a LOT?! I did not, and literally staggered. I handed over my New York City trip money, my contact lens money, all of my Carpet Fund, and some of my savings. That hurt only a little less knowing that Charlie and Rick were going to do the work themselves, and they're what we call "easy on the eyes" and it's hot, and they had to take off their shirts at some point during the digging.....Wow. Oh, sorry, what was I saying? Anyway....

The water line's located smack in the middle of the side yard between my house and her sister, built in the same year on the same lot, with only about 12 feet between them, so I went to my neighbors and explained what was going on. They came out to stand in the side yard and shake their heads with me, and I helped Gwen dig up some bushes so they wouldn't get mashed by the trencher. (Gwen's the president of the Garden Club and her yard's gorgeous.) I was hoping that the neighbors wouldn't be cranky about the noise and the mess, when Gwen spoke up:
Gwen: "Where does 800 gallons of water a day go?"
Charlie: (grinning) "Look how nice and green your yard and all your flowers are." This said as he's hand-digging a big hole in my yard.
Gwen: (obviously delighted) "Oh, how nice!"
Floyd: (Gwen's husband) While you're down there, son, can you kill all the moles?"
God, I love living next to these people!

4 comments:

  1. Ye-owch. Do they know what caused the leak? (This isn't going to help my pre-existing tree-root-through-pipes paranoia any.)

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  2. No idea what caused the leak, and strangely, the guys digging the trench didn't find any wet mud, either. It's been really dry here, but still....

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  3. ROTFL! I have tears in my eyes. God I love living in a small town too.

    I feel your pain though. Had the same issue several years ago with another old house.

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  4. OMG!!!
    Well, I feel your pain, too. I bought an old house that needs a lot of work. I had the water turned on three months ago. No water arrived through the pipes, although the meter was spinning round.
    Well, apparently it's not on my property. This house used to be the only thing on five acres, that's been divided up and sold off over the years.
    My meter is on the next street over, at the far corner of the block. Well, we talked to the meter reader today. He said I'm connected via a private line, and it goes under two houses; yep, they built houses over my water pipe. Go figure. Now I have to find out whether an easement document exists. Then I have to get someone to find the leak; we're talking about 200 feet of pipe. Then there's repairing it. If there is an easement and if the neighbors foundation has ruined the pipe, then I think they will be liable for the costs to fix it. I bet I'll have to go to court over this; or maybe they just don't have the money to do it. Wow! Live and learn!

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