My first world problem

Problems don’t get any easier to endure just because they are so-called ‘first world’ problems. But it prevents me from wallowing in self-pity, considering myself brave and heroic, or cursing whatever divine powers were responsible for handing me a raw deal.

It happened in the wee hours about five weeks ago in our guest bathroom at the back of the house. Serves us right, some would think, for even having a guest bathroom. Even more so for having such a big house we didn’t hear anything from our bedroom close to the front door. Anyway, we woke up, stepped out, briefly wondered from where the strange spurting, gurgling noise was coming, and then beheld a continent of saturated carpet in our living room. Bare footed, we squelched in comfortable, non-icy water to the source, a ruptured flexible hot-water hose under the wash basin, then rushed to the garden to find the water main, which took a few minutes to locate. I called a plumber using a phone number on a fridge magnet. And so began our nano version of Operation Overlord.

I know people who relish problems that require making decisions one after the other, coordinating activities, negotiating prices and timelines with others, in short stuff I don’t enjoy but find myself having to do. I’m doing them because the outcome we want will not be achieved if we allow the tradespeople to call the shots. They are all kind, cooperative, helpful, capable people. Even the insurance contacts, believe it or not. But, if allowed, they would undoubtedly choose the simplest path to completion, which in our case would be to replace all the damaged carpeted areas with new carpet. We want hard flooring instead of carpet in the living rooms (a first world indulgence, I suppose), which requires a different arrangement of activities.

Where are we now? Carpenters have begun to replace door jambs and skirting boards. And later today we hope to choose our new flooring. A mountain of work lies ahead, but at least it’s under way.

I am mindful of things to be thankful for. There always are in this privileged life I lead. Less than a fortnight before it happened, we returned from a ten-day road trip to South Australia. It never occurred to us to turn off the water main before we left, no different to every other trip we have done. If the pipe had burst while we were away, I shudder at what might have confronted us on our return. We are also fortunate that our calamity did not occur either as the result of or during a natural disaster that affected many other properties. I am aware that victims of the 2019-2020 bushfires are still waiting for their homes to be rebuilt. Work on my home has begun after only five weeks. It could have been a lot worse.

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