Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Trailer Incident

We have the two best restaurants in the world right here in Vancleave, MS. Vancleave is considered "the country" in our area. Bear in mind that I live in Gautier, so I am not sure that we are high-falootin' city folks, but still... I remember when Dave was still living in Italy, I called him and said, "I have found the best hamburger in the world. It is at a place called "Dairy Dream." He thought I was exaggerating until he came back and tasted it for himself. Now, he agrees that a fully-dressed, large, Dairy Dream cheeseburger is so good it is worth the risk of high colesterol. The other restaurant that we only discovered just after the storm is a little Italian joint called "Pappa Roni's". They serve a Foccacia dip that is so fabulous. It is rare that Dave, Danielle, Sarah and I all love the same thing. The girls are hard to please. But, we all dig right in every time we visit this little restaurant that seats only ten people. Also, Dave lived in Italy for a couple of years, so he is somewhat of an Italian food connoisseur. Everything is always exquisite each time we have eaten at this tiny little bistro, and we all leave stuffed. The wait staff doesn't even mind that Danielle brings her own chocolate pudding in which to dip her food.

Fortunately, we had just returned from a fabulous family dinner at Pappa Roni's when we experienced a terrible occurence that nearly threw us all into post traumatic stress disorder. Upon returning home, Dave went into the trailer to start coffee for Saturday morning. (We are currently sleeping in the house, while cooking and eating in the FEMA trailer.) Sarah and I continued on into the house while Dave and Danielle went into the trailer. Sarah and I hadn't yet even managed to unlock the door when we hear panicked cries coming from the trailer, "Turn the water off! Turn the water off!"

Dan ran out of the trailer yelling, "Turn the water off!"

I respond, "What water?"

Dave continues yelling, "Turn the water off! Turn the water off to the trailer. Turn it off!"

I ran into the house and haphazardly made my way out the back sliding glass door to the back porch where the water is hooked up. Buddy, our dog, was so glad to see me that he jumped on me and nearly knocked me over, which seriously impeded my progress. Sarah was fast on my heels asking, "What's wrong?"

I replied hastily, "Sarah, I don't know. I just have to turn the water off."

Sarah and I got the water turned off and ran back through the house, out the garage and into the trailer.

Understand that I knew it couldn't be good. But, I don't think I was prepared for the reality I was about to face. I burst into the trailer to see water spurting from what used to the the cold tap in the kitchen sink. Water covered the kitchen floor and was dripping from the cabinets. Dave was desperately looking for the knob to the tap, which had shot off as soon as he turned it on. Sarah and I stood there dumbfounded. Finally, after a couple of seconds that seemed more like an eternity, I sent Sarah into the house to get towels. Dan had run in to find the mop already.

Water continued to spray up from the faucet and I asked Dave, "Did turning the water off not help?"

He said, "Oh no. It helped some." Still, it hadn't completely stopped the gushing of water all over the kitchen. I opened the taps in the bathroom to try to relieve some of the pressure. This helped a little more. Still some water continued to shoot up like a geiser in rythmic spurts. Sarah arrived with the towels and Dan arrived with the mop. We began trying to clean up the mess.

We ordered the girls into the house, since the trailer is such a small place. That might have also been a post traumatic stress reaction. After the storm, I remember returning home and my sweet Sarah was trying to sweep the disgusting swamp water out of the house. All I could think of at that time was that God help Randy (their dad) get them safely out of this place. Dave and I continued to clean up the water, when I opened the cabinet to have a true, disgusting flashback. The pots and pans in the trailer cabinet had filled with water. I can assure you, this wasn't nearly the same as after the storm, but it reminded me of the experience. In fact, my friend, Cecile and I were just reflecting on Friday about how horrible it was to open a drawer or pull out a pan and hear the familiar sloshing sound of smelly, contaminated flood water spilling out over everything. Dave sounded horrified, as well, when he saw the water in the pans, "Oh, no. How in the world did water get in there?"

I just looked at him and smiled, "Water flows to the place of least resistance." He said that frequently to me after the storm when I would ask the same question.

Dave and I are bonded together forever by our disgusting water cleaning experiences. Pre-storm plumbing problems, Hurricane Katrina, and now what will be forever referred to as "the trailer incident" unite us in a way that is deeper than even marital vows. I'm sure Dave's Aquarian influence is somehow responsible.

As we continued cleaning the water, I noticed a rhythmic hum in coming from the back of the trailer. Dave determined that it had to be the water pump. After flipping all the breakers and unplugging the trailer from the house failed to stop the hum, Dave and I became increasingly concerned that if the pump continued to run without water in it, it would burn up. This led to the decision to call FEMA. I found the number and discussed the situation with the infuriatingly calm gentleman on the other end of the line. He advised us to turn off the black switch on the wall near the sink. Previously, we had no earthly idea the exact purpose of the switch. The men who set up the trailer told me it was a switch for the furnace and that I should just leave it on. Mr. Calm FEMA Maintenance Telephone Operator informed me that he would put in a work order for someone to come out. I inquired as to when someone would come and he his only reply was, "Someone should contact you in a couple of days." Well, I wanted to scream, "This is an EMERGENCY! I just had to clean water out of pots and pans!" I wanted a SWAT team to descend upon the house! I wanted helicopters to come out of the sky! I wanted action! But, instead, I just said, "Thank you. You have been most helpful," and hung up the phone. After all, what is Mr. Calm FEMA Maintenance Telephone Operator going to do? Get in his car and come help me himself? He has to take calls from other people whose knobs have popped off their taps and are frantic.

So, as I reflect upon the situation today, I am calmer. I have faith that someone will come and help. In the meantime, I can wash dishes in the bathtub. Or, I could try to put them in my brand new washing machine because I now have a functional laundry room! I just have all kinds of options. Whenever a problem crops up, I know that there is a solution. I am hooked into a Divine Power than can solve any problem and alleviate any concern. I just need to remember that.

The affirmation I have been working with lately is, "God goes before me to make smooth and perfect my way." I'm coming to understand that means that God's way is smooth and perfect regardless of outer circumstances. My friend, Tammy, recently sent me a video of Hurricane Katrina that was shot from the Beau Rivage. I will try to include the link here for any who are interested. Click to watch: Hurricane Katrina Video. The thing that I most noticed was that the videographer focused in on a pelican sitting calmly atop the waves in the midst of debris as the hurricane swirled around it. After several more frames, the pelican is joined by two other pelicans, so there are three. The video doesn't show how the two other pelicans got there, but all of a sudden, the pelican isn't alone anymore. This is true for my life. If I can just sit calmly even in the midst of wind, water and debris (or even spurting taps in the trailer), God will send help and comfort. I don't have to be alone. If only I can have the faith of the pelican.