I was just trying to have a quiet lunch. OK, it was a package of crackers, but I did go into the break room to relax for my allotted hour. It was not to be, for our security guard came in to tell me I was needed downstairs immediately.
I had seen that look before, and figured it was some normal issue, like with a difficult patron, so I took my time to actually clock out. Little did I know…it was raining in the women’s restroom!
As I walked out of the break room, I saw staff members frantically looking into the women’s restroom and janitor’s closet on the second floor. I left them behind and went downstairs to then see water running out the door of the first-floor restroom. Opening the door, I look up and water rains down on me from above.
I’m the boss, so I’m supposed to know what to do. As I send staff for a ladder, a ceiling tile looks close to exploding. My brain races to remember how to turn off the water.
The funny thing about being in charge is that you don’t just actually know everything, or at least you can’t easily recall everything you’re supposed to know. I did vaguely remember something like this happening in the past eight years, and since we recently had our restrooms remodeled, I had a flash of insight — shut-off valve in the ceiling!
Unfortunately, the first ladder was only tall enough for me to get my head up to the ceiling, and with our guard’s handy flashlight, I desperately searched for a valve. I also saw the trouble — a small water heater. Amazing that such a small container could pour such massive amounts of water.
I declared victory, and called for a taller ladder. It was rushed to my side, but finding myself vertically challenged, I asked for a staff member to come and climb the ladder and pull the valve. Hallelujah! It worked. The rain stopped, and I called for a squeegee and mop. We began a tag-team of clean up, trying to get all the water into the restroom drains, while keeping it from the nearby electrical closet and flowing into the rest of the library.
The ceiling tile fell.
Thankfully, no one was injured in this non-natural disaster.
Plumber called. Water heater is being replaced. Why they have to be in the ceiling is anyone’s guess. At least I can now safely say I’ve replaced both water heaters in the library, so surely, I’ll get to retire before they do this again.
I decided to buy a pair of boots, as this is not the first time I’ve faced flood waters in my building… nor, I’m sure, will it be the last.
Just another day in the library.