Notwithstanding a certain rhythm, the sound of running water is not music to my ears. Not, at least, when and where no water should be running.
Like a dogged douser, I track it to its source: the toilet in the main bathroom is definitely shh-gurgling. As I lift the tank cap—shh—my eyes quickly confirm what my ears have already diagnosed. The tank is emptying as fast as it’s filling.
Trained to show no fear in this sort of emergency, I authoritatively jiggle the flapper to reseat it and wait hopefully for the change in tone that will indicate the tank is filling. I wait in vain.
I squint at the chain affixed to the flapper and see that the doohickey—which should loosely connect the chain to the flapper—is wedged into an unnatural position. I unwedge it, releasing the slight tension it had put on the chain.
With an almost audible sigh of relief the flapper subsides almost imperceptibly, and that beautiful toilet-tank-filling sound fills the room.
Pretty darned pleased with myself, I return to my routine, but I can still hear a funny noise.
Oh, that’s one of those noises in my head.
It’s 1975 and the bathroom fan in my parent’s house is making a hell of a whacket. Uninclined to press my father into ill-advised service, my mother has decided to wait the few weeks until my next visit to town. Well, to wait for my then-husband’s visit, truth be told. After all, the fan is electrical. Who better than an electrical engineer to tackle this problem?
And so it is that he is standing on a stool, unscrewing the cover on the ceiling fan. I’m thinking maybe he should have turned off a breaker. But before I can offer my professional advice, the cover drops a half-inch into his hand, and something else drops with it: a hardened piece of electrician’s tape. The house was built in 1972 and this piece has finally dried up enough to come loose and whack around inside the fan. Problem solved: No electron negotiations required.
My mother is grateful for the cessation of the whacketing, pleased not to have incurred an electrician’s bill for a house call, and a little chagrined at how little there was to it. After all, she could have unscrewed the fan cover and let a piece of electrician’s tape fall into her hand, too. As she heads down the hall with the noise-maker in her hand, she acknowledges ruefully, I guess it helps if you’re not afraid to look.
As it was with the fan and the toilet tank, so it shall be henceforth with all my problems.
Large and small; mechanical and electrical.
Personal, inter-personal, political.
Animal, vegetable, mineral.
I shall, damn it, not be afraid to even look.
What’s that funny noise? you ask.
Oh, that. It’s just the world, playing my song.