Tuesday, May 4, 2010
My Life on the Range
Have you ever wondered how you would react in a crisis but could do without all the drama aboard a sinking ship* or the possibility of soiling yourself on a transatlantic flight? Well if you happen to reside in a 30 town radius of Boston (see: everyone and anyone who matters), you got a little taste the past few days, and it wasn't pretty. If you are not privy to this story (you have internet way out there??!), here's a short rundown. Saturday morning, a clamp around a massive pipe in Weston failed, and every town East of this juncture was cut off from the 412 BILLION gallon water source. Scrambling to maintain running water, other smaller reservoirs were routed for these communities, but the water was coming through these taps was virtually unfiltered. This led to a dizzying amount of confusion for city folk**.
Saturday afternoon, the gravity of the situation began to take hold. Strangers were asking if you had heard about the water. Otherwise sane people entered the slow spiral of insanity. I started interrogating people about how old the ice cubes were. The half-empty cup of water on my desk looked like an oasis. The swig that remained in my bike's water bottle needed to be hidden lest it get into the wrong hands. Have you ever tried brushing your teeth without water? It is nearly impossible. So naturally, I used mouthwash to prime the brush. As it was approaching ninety degrees, I tried to avoid boiling water at all costs but it was unavoidable.
After spending 10 minutes convincing myself that a Corona Light was acceptable after-run refreshment***, I realized I needed to "HARDEN THE FUCK UP"**** and get out the cooking pot. I filled said pot, cranked up the range, and waited. Water boils slowly, and if you watch it, it boils even slowlier*****. I know I'm a scientist and all, but recognizing when water is "boiling" is a tricky skill. The chemist in me says that boiling is when vapor pressure of the liquid is equal to atmospheric pressure******, but the lazy 25 year old inside me is telling me that those little bubbles on the side of the pot means it is boiling and I can stop. Do I REALLY have to wait for a rolling boil and count down from 60? That sounds exhausting, but I did it. It took every ounce of my being not to just say "fuck it" and throw in some pasta and make dinner instead, but I did it.
Now you have 3 gallons of scalding water rife with deceased bacterium (hopefully), that you get to siphon into water bottles and cups and Brita filters and smaller pots a la Signs. Of course I could have waited, but in my opinion I had waited long enough and as long as Cholera was no longer a threat, I could risk second degree burns. I ended up spilling most of this water down the sink and likely melting the inside of the Brita filter, but roughly 90 minutes after embarking upon this adventure, I had 2 Nalgenes, a Brita filter, and a Canteen full of water. As it was still 85 degrees in the kitchen, I celebrated with another beer.
With "drinking water" out of the way, my attention turned to more important matters. Namely, bathing. I am a shower master. 5 minutes flat. Lather, shampoo, condition, done. No shower-bath, no bath period. I'm all business. But even a wham-bam shower man like myself has to second guess his technique and consider the merits of a sponge bath in light of a crisis like this. After my roommates bathed without incident/blood-curdling scream, I figured the coast was clear.
Botulism infected laundry? E.coli coated dishes? I didn't need an extra reason not to do those. So those piled up in their respective areas until further notice. It was like OREGON TRAIL but REAL. I hoped for an Indian******* I could pay $5 to help me ford the Mystic River for more water. I wanted to barter my car axle or my first born. The only thing missing was a loved one succumbing to dysentery and the clock was ticking on that one.
And then, as quickly as it began, Deval said shit was cool and Starbucks could make coffee again and I could do dishes again and I was miffed. Why? Because I was just getting used to roughing it and I could feel my character building. That and I had just spent the better part of my evening slaving over a hot stove and receiving no nutritional value. I was transcribing a tall tale for my grandchildren about the drought of 2010 and how their granddad carried 40 gallons of water on his bike up******** Mass Ave to dehydrated school children. Now it just sounds like an inconvenience. At least I'm not this idiot.
*women and children first?! C'MON!
**"Does that mean I should put it through my Brita twice?"
***Does it have electrolytes? How about if I add a lime?
****R'OB's words, not mine.
*****I'm playing that in Bananagrams CMM
******No I did not look it up.
******** both ways, of course