It was cold in Utah with snow falling quietly, quickly mounting up on the ski trails at Snow Bird resort when my cell phone rang. My wife was calling from our home near Boston, saying that the fire department was evacuating our small building. She only had a minute to talk, but I needed more information. It was almost midnight in Boston and, of course, the cell service wasn’t great. But I heard her say “broken water pipe” and knew, as a water damage restoration consultant, it couldn’t be good. Later, she gave me more information. I heard “high pressure sprinkler line,” which was followed by, “Oh no. Oh, this isn’t good. This isn’t good at all.”
I didn’t want to believe that my wife, who has worked by my side in the water damage industry for many years, was traumatized by a few inches of water cascading down the stairs, through the walls and ceilings and under our hardwood floors.
I had just arrived in Utah to speak at the Eagles Conference held by Les Cunningham of Business Networks Inc. My wife asked if I was coming home right away. When I explained to her that I couldn’t come home - I was under contract to speak - let’s just say it was not a shining moment in my 43-year marriage. I’m not exaggerating when I say that she sounded anxious. I have believed for most of my professional adult life that water damage in your own home when you are in the industry is a result of an ancient karmic debt.
From the time I first started traveling for business, I have suffered the indignities of calamities that occur as soon as you are far from home. It has become a way of life for me as no doubt it has for many business travelers. I started up the stairs from the convention center to see if I could get a better signal on my cell phone and hear my wife better when I saw Rich Piltch and Steve Sorkin of Boston’s ARS Restoration Services approaching me. They were there to attend the conference. I told them what happened and it didn’t take them long to dispatch a crew to our home.
Thirty minutes later Rick Perini, an engineer from ARS Services, was onsite with crews to extract and begin the restoration process we all know so well. All was right with the world. Not because they were extracting water, but because Rick, a familiar face to my wife and a professional if ever there was one, was there to get the situation under control, even in the middle of the night. His presence was reassuring.
Early the next morning, still half asleep, shivering in my pajamas, caffeine withdrawal already setting in, I received the details. A high pressure water line had ruptured in the penthouse spewing massive amounts of water from the high pressure 2-inch water pipe. Two stories above our unit, my neighbor later told me he ran for a waste basket to catch water from the broken pipe and then immediately went to Plan B.
I didn’t return home until several days later when my speaking portion of the program was complete. It didn’t matter that it was a few days because the ARS technicians did their job well without my help. Except for the water that was still working its way through concrete, steel, insulation, plaster and other building materials, Rick explained the steps they had taken to prevent further damage. I knew those steps by heart and, fortunately, so did he. The drying went well, all demolition was completed, adjusters agreed on coverage and costs and the reconstruction started. Everything was falling back into place.
The punch line: After I arrived at my next conference, I was awakened by a telephone call from my wife in Boston at 4 a.m. It appeared my ancient karmic debt was not fully paid. I suffered the indignities once again of being far from home and all hell breaking lose when you least expect it. My wife said she fetched the towels to stop the water from coming in on our new hardwood floors and spilling out of the new kitchen cabinets, but the water was already too deep. I called ARS. Rick arrived, things would be better. The plumbing valve that ruptured in the unit above ours - also under construction - ruptured in middle of the night.
The ARS technicians did their job again without my help. All was well, except for the water that was still working its way through concrete, steel, insulation, plaster and other building materials. Rick explained the steps they had taken again. The ones we both know so well. The drying went quickly, all demolition was completed and the reconstruction began one more time.
We love our home. It is here that we can relax and entertain family and friends. It is a peaceful place by the ocean, except when the drying equipment and saws are operating, the drills are whirring and the workers with hammers are hard at work.
Remember what I said at the beginning about this being a karmic debt? I am getting ready to board another plane soon and my wife, who has developed a new fear of water, has asked me not to bring my work home with me.
I really think she means it this time.