HCMC Dining Guide

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Flood Magnet

About nine months ago, I decided to show a friend visiting from America just how the 'butt guns' that are located in all bathrooms here work. I pulled the little gun out of its handle, only to have it come off in my hand, while the hose it was attached too launched a jet of water into my face. We 'solved' the problem by kinking the hose and sticking it inside a roll of toilet paper; so that the kink didn't come undone.

That solution, however, wasn't perfect. Ever since, a slow trickle of water has flowed out of the pipe where the hose meets the wall. Earlier this week, my landlady saw it, and gave me a rubber plug and a wrench, while explaining in butchered English how to rectify the situation. This evening, I gathered up enough initiative and went to fix the little leak. What a terrible decision that turned out to be.

I unscrewed the hose from the wall, and was immediately met with a horizontal geyser of water that would have put Old Faithful to shame. I tried shoving the plug into the hole, but it didn't fit, and water ended up splattering all over the bathroom. And me.

Bathrooms here have drains built into the floor, but this one could not keep up with the flow of water, so the liquid quickly began to spill out of the room and into the first floor proper. This was getting bad. I tried fitting the hose back over the pipe, but the metal end had shattered, so that was a lost cause. Water was now flowing into our kitchen and living room, while I ran around screaming profanities. With the water spreading rapidly, I desperately rang my landlady.

A bit of background: this woman is certifiably insane. In fact, my housemates and I don't even know her actual name. We just call her Crazy. She picked up the phone:
"Hello?"
"CRAZY!!! Ummm....I mean ma'am. I NEED A PLUMBER AT THE HOUSE NOW!! THE FIRST FLOOR IS FLOODING!!!"
"I live too far from Ho Chi Minh City. I can't come now."
"I DON'T CARE. WE NEED A PLUMBER. NOW!!!!"
Clearly not understanding the urgency that the situation warranted:"Ok, I call the repairman. He comes and fix it."
"GREAT! HE NEEDS TO HURRY!!! THIS IS REALLY BAD!!!"
"You stay at house, he comes."
"I'M NOT GOING TO FREAKIN' LEAVE."

After the phone call, I resorted to holding a rubber glove against the spewing pipe, which basically stopped the jet of water. By now there was standing water covering most of the first floor. Thankfully, we didn't have any carpet, and I had moved anything important from the floor, but it was still a huge mess.

I had been forcing the glove against the pipe for a few minutes when I heard the front door open. I shouted out for my roommates; both of them had happened to arrive at the same time. I could hear them saying "Good god! What happened!"

When they saw me crouched in ankle-deep water, forearms bulging as I fought the water, they broke into hilarious laughter. Thankful they weren't mad, I asked one to call someone and see if there was a way to turn the water off. She immediately saw a green valve just two feet behind me and turned it, cutting any water off from the bathroom. All this time, the solution was almost in front of my face, but I had been too flustered to see it. Dripping wet and feeling like an idiot, I waded out of the bathroom and waited for the plumber. He showed up, only speaking Vietnamese, utterly perplexed by our house-turned-swamp.

With the water shut off, he had the pipe plugged in no time. My roommate Allison then showed up with a big squeegee, and I began to push the water out of the house, as she laughed at my ineptitude. The rooms dried out surprisingly quickly, and already you can barely tell that I created a FEMA-level disaster just a few hours ago. Considering the fact that my house flooded during Katrina, and that this wasn't my first water-related incident at the house here, I should probably warn future housemates of the possibility of floods.
It's kind of hard to see, but this floor was covered in water.


the scene of the levee breach, if you will

soaked

that little hole emitted an astonishing amount of water in just a few minutes

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