Thursday, October 8 appeared to be a normal day at Trinity.
HVAC technicians were working on ductwork, vents, and ceiling tiles on the renovation of the Mastin Room.
Our grounds crew was mowing, edging, and gathering up leaves.
Trinity member, Mike Cross, was going to do some power washing for us. His wife, Teresa, volunteered for a tough assignment— weed patrol in borders along the Stuart Hall Road side of the building.
I was going to work on prepping areas on the front lawn for mulching. If the weather holds, we have some volunteers coming on Saturday morning to help with this project.
It took me a bit of time to get organized, but I eventually started.
The beds under three dogwood trees needed to be edged and weeded before mulch could be spread. From that work, I gathered several loads of turf debris in a wheelbarrow.
As I wheeled those loads by the preschool students on the playground, a few would say: “hi” and some would ask “what are you doing?” Sometimes, when I hear that question, I respond with—“I’m having fun.” I love seeing the puzzled looks on their faces with that answer.
My work continued into the midday Preschool dismissal. I witnessed the precision of this routine. Guided by Preschool staff, the parents and grandparents waited patiently as their precious cargo was handed off to them.
Seems, it was after 12:30 when the tide of the day decided to shift.
I had come into the building to check on a few things. I was walking back into the Preschool wing.
Just as I was on the first floor hallway, I thought I saw our Preschool Director, Katie Swartz, hustling out the exit door in the stairwell. It sounded like she yelled out my name, but I wasn’t sure.
I went to the next stairwell, and walked down into the basement floor of the Preschool. Now, I understood what had actually been the frantic holler of my name.
Lots of water was quickly covering the floor in the girls restroom.
The flush valve on one of the toilets was stuck.
Rushing water was moving at such a force that it was spilling out of the toilet.
Assistant Director for the Preschool, Mary Jones, and another teacher were there. They had taken old towels and constructed a dam. This was an attempt to keep the water out of the carpeted hallway.
To stop this flood, I needed to remove a metal cap. This was normally a simple unscrewing of the cap. I twisted the cap it kept turning and spinning.
I left the restroom, found our building caregiver, Ronnie Johnson, and asked him to get a carpet machine for removing the water.
I made my way to our tools. I grabbed pliers, a rubber headed hammer, and a large flathead screwdriver.
I hustled back to the restroom, the water continued to pour out. There was easily two inches on the floor.
I hit the area of the flush valve with the rubber hammer to see if that might stop the deluge. There was a nano pause, but nothing else.
I kept working on that spinning cover cap. Something told me to pull. I did, and the cap came off.
Now, I had access to the stop valve. I took the flathead screwdriver, inserted it into the head, and turned it clockwise as quick as I could. Thankfully, the water stopped.
Quietness returned as I sloshed through the water. Someone asked me if needed anything, and I said, “Get me a for sale sign for the building.”
Ronnie arrived. He helped me get started, and then he left to finish his cleaning checklist.
It took a while, but eventually all of the water was sucked up. All of that water wasted. I thought some parched farmland or a firefighter out west would have loved that water.
Too bad that old bathroom didn’t have a floor drain. There is a floor drain in the HVAC closet beside the bathroom.
I guess I could have grabbed a sledge hammer and knocked a hole in the base of the wall. But that would have taken more time and created another mess.
After I mopped the floor with a disinfectant, I placed a box fan at the entrance, and started working to put tools and machines away.
For some reason, I am starting to believe that God doesn’t think I was properly baptized. Over the years, I’ve had some interesting encounters with water in this old building.
Maybe, I should fax or e-mail him a copy of my baptism proof from Davis Street Methodist Church in Burlington, North Carolina.
As unexpected and frustrating as this flood was for me, this little outing for ducks was nothing compared to what other people are trying to work through.
I think about the church member who was recently diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. She only has weeks to live.
Then there is the church member who is in the ICU at a local hospital with COVID-19. He is on a ventilator. His current prognosis is the uncertain day to day.
And there is the friend whose many years of marriage has unexpectedly unraveled.
And here is one more heart-tugger, a friend from high school who is quarantined with COVID-19 while her six year old grandson battles a brain tumor.
A misbehaving flush valve dumping water is nothing compared to what those nice, kindhearted people are experiencing.
So, God even though I can prove my baptism, you have made your point.
Thanks for the help you gave me this afternoon, and thanks for the people who helped me.
But, just as your son in a boat with his disciples stilled the waters from a chaotic squall on the Sea of Galilee, I would pray that in some way your presence might touch those friends I referenced here.
They need you more right now than some old grump cussing a flush valve.