Fortuitous Distaster

Until last night, I had never, ever, ever in my entire life lived through an actual parable. Not anymore!

Actually, I’m not so sure it’s technically a parable, since those have sort of religious or moral bents to them. Plus, this is long, and I’m fairly sure parables are supposed to be short. But I’m sticking with parable. It’s a great word, and not often used.

So it’s evening, and I’m washing up a pile of dishes and trying my darndest to get the kitchen shipshape before heading downstairs to teevee and knitting. This is my goal for the year: to try to get my chores done in a sensible manner (as opposed to willy-nilly at the last minute because someone is coming over). Right. So. Shipshape. The crock pot, which is clean but has been sitting on the counter since the holidays, is the last thing to get put away, and (of course) it goes on the top shelf of a way high up cupboard. I don’t know what I was thinking – obviously, thinking was not heavily involved here – by trying to hold a heavy crockpot with its glass lid whilst trying to get the cupboard open and the items on the top shelf shoved aside moved out of the way to accomodate the shelf’s new resident and all while standing on my tippy-toes. Of course, as you probably guessed, the glass lid toppled off and crashed to the floor.

The crash was big. I have never, short of a car accident, seen so much glass everywhere. There were pieces of glass at least 15 feet in either direction. The glass broke into so many little pieces that I bet even the dudes at CSI couldn’t have pieced it back together. Of course, I was quite annoyed with this additional task to handle before I got to open my knitting bag. And, while I had (possibly ironically, possibly ominously) been thinking about a new little chip in the crock bowl itself and wondering if it was still safe to use, I like my crock pot. I didn’t want to have to buy another. Not yet.

Still, my dilemma over whether to continue using my pot had essentially been solved. Crock pots don’t really work without their lids. And crock pots are so inexpensive these days that it is usually cheaper to buy a new one than to replace a bowl or lid once it breaks.

Resigning myself to the task at hand, I first banished the girls to their room so they wouldn’t step on any of the glass. I also had them put shoes on, just in case. Then I swept the glass into two large piles. With the dustpan, I transferred the piles from the floor to the kitchen trash can. All the while, I imagined the letter I would send to the crockpot manufacturer: To Whom It May Concern, your crockpots are frightening and unsafe. I will never purchase another of your crockpots again. I am scarred for life, as are my children. Too emotional. I erased my imaginary letter and tried a more scientific approach, describing the way in which the lid had broken. I imagined diagrams of my house with measurements and illustrations of how and where the glass had shattered. I imagined statistical charts that showed the distribution of debris from the drop point. I imagined getting a phone call from the manufacturer, thanking me for my letter and asking me to provide further detail for the folks at Research and Development. I imagined making PowerPoint presentations to crock pot scientists all over the world. It is amazing what you can dream up while sweeping glass.

As I swept up the glass, I have to admit to cursing my dumb luck. The glass was scattered so far from the crash site that I would have to sweep both the kitchen and dining room floors, and then – since some of the pieces were so fine that they might get missed by the broom – I’d have to mop. I had to take out the trash. I had to do all these extra jobs, just because I had done work. If I had done my usual quickie-clean, which involved shoving “active dishes” (those from the current meal) into the dishwasher and putting the food away, the crock pot would still be sitting on the counter. It would still have its lid. I would already be engrossed in Planet Earth with knitting needles clicking away. But no, I had an extra forty-five minutes worth of kitchen work to do, and all because I had decided to go the extra mile in spiffing up the place.

Once the sweeping was done, I took the bag out to the trash immediately, to avoid additional glass disasters in the kitchen, and proceeded to vacuum up the finer stuff that the broom couldn’t get. But there were still pieces of glass – tiny, almost like dust; and yes, they blended in with the regular dirt on the floor. So it seemed like a good idea to mop. I pulled the mop down and filled a bucket with soapy water. I mopped the kitchen, and the dining room. I even did a hallway, just to be safe.

The last thing that needed done was clean off the throw-rug next to my kitchen counter. It is too small to vacuum, as the sweeper would just think it a large dryer sheet and try to eat it. I could see tiny shards of deadly glass glinting evilly at me as I examined it. I’d have to take it outside and shake it out. Glancing at the clock, which now read 8:55pm (an hour wasted on this ridiculous cleanup!), I sighed and opened the back door.

I stepped out onto the back porch, so the few bits of glass wouldn’t end up back in the house, and shook out the rug. It was a surprisingly warm night for January in Ohio. Not balmy, but not bitter, either. I guess it was about 35 degrees. The air was moist with humidity and I could hear the rain falling as I shook out the rug.

Wait a minute. If I was standing outside, how come I could hear the rain but not feel it?

I walked a little further out onto the porch. Off to the right, somewhere in the dark, I definitely heard water. It was a strange noise, though. It wasn’t a dripping sound, or a running sound. It didn’t sound like rain. It was more like a whooshing sound of water being forced out of something. It sounded a lot like a hose.

A hose! We hadn’t winterized the outside hose!! Visions of our house floating off its foundation and down the street filled my overactive imagination. As fast as I could in the dark, I clambered down the back steps, following the sound. It was definitely the hose. I banged on the back door until my husband came out. He got me a flashlight, and I crawled under the porch. Just as I thought, the hose extension we had put in that summer had burst.

I crawled all the way under the porch’s soggy belly to the main run, and turned it off. The whooshing of water stopped immediately. But now I was wet. My untainted house shoes were muddy. What a crappy turn of events. I was seriously beginning to doubt the wisdom of all this tidy-house foolishness.

Back inside, I took off my house shoes and wiped them down with a towel. There was a piece of glass stuck in the rubber heel of one. I dug it out and muttered some choice obscenities at the crock pot. But then I realized that, if I had not opened the back door that evening to shake out the rug, we probably would not have found out about the hose for a day or two. That would have been a lot more problematic than sweeping up some glass.

Just then, the girls came running in, shouting excitedly. In the process of putting on shoes (clean ones, from their closet, which they don’t normally wear), they found a piece from their favorite game. The piece had been missing for weeks and we hadn’t been able to play.

When I went to empty the vacuum cleaner canister to get rid of the last of the glass, I discovered that I had managed to suck up an ink pen, probably the day before when I swept DH’s office. The pen was lodged near the accessory hose and, had it gone any further, it would probably have ripped the hose or torn the HEPA filter – the single most expensive replacement part on the whole machine. If I had not just filled up the cannister with glass, it wouldn’t normally have been emptied for several days.

When I took the kitchen trash bag full of glass out to the garbage can outside, I saw that the letter I had put under the mailbox lid for the postman to pick up in the morning had fallen back into the box, meaning it wouldn’t have been mailed the next day. It was a time-sensitive bill.

Best of all, the whole incident inspired me to update my sorry neglected little blog. And now I can say I lived a parable (even if that’s not entirely accurate).

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4 thoughts on “Fortuitous Distaster

  1. I hate having to be the voice of reason here – but seems to me this could have all been avoided if you hadn’t installed the hose extension in the first place. If you hadn’t you could have sat on on your hiney watching tv and knitting and maybe eating a chocolate or two. I’m positive the bill fell into the mailbox from the vibrations caused by all that flying glass. And sure, the kids wouldn’t have found the game piece – but it will probably just get lost again. Imagine how disappointed they’ll be! All because you decided to do a little home improvement. Hope this was helpful.

  2. Oh, thank you, Lisa! You have convinced me that it is utterly foolish to undertake any future home improvement projects, let alone do more than the most cursory of housekeeping tasks. I do believe my hiney and my knitting projects are in your debt forever. 😉

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