Lessons from an Unexpected Urinal Shower

It was a typical Thursday morning — I was in the synagogue basement, having had a cup of coffee and had just made use of the facilities. I went to flush the toilet — a urinal, to be exact, and somehow the entire handle popped right off and water started violently spraying everywhere. I thought I could easily push it back together but I could not have been more wrong. Water was going all over me and I got drenched within seconds.

At this point I want to point out that usually at this point there are very few people in the synagogue but for some reason on this particular day people were lingering in the kitchen. I yelled out for help several times and a few people came downstairs. Once the situation was assessed, someone found where to turn off the water supply for the bathroom and switched it off. By this point I was standing in two inches of water and I was thinking that my shoes were pretty much destroyed. Thanks to an expert job of replacing the soles that I had done with a gentleman named Ruby of Cobbler Express Shoe Repair and Shine, the shoes came out of the ordeal unscathed.

I was completely soaked — my shirt, my pants, my undergarments, and even my socks to some extent. I headed up the stairs from the basement to go home because there was no way that I could go into the office drenched like this. Granted, I probably would have been a bit drier by the time I got there but I just did not want a long wet commute. I passed by several members of the congregation that perhaps had not heard my cries for help and it seemed to me that they could not care less that I was dripping wet in my clothing. It turns out that they were just, as it were, too shocked to speak.

On that day I had hoped to go into the office early and really wanted to skip coffee entirely in the morning and go straight to work — but I decided to stick around for a few minutes. A few minutes turned into quite a few minutes thanks to a broken urinal.

What did I learn from all of this? For one, you can really tell who cares about you to some extent based on who comes to your rescue when you call out for help. I know that if I were in the position of being upstairs and had heard a cry for help, I would not have hesitated. Secondly, just because someone gives you an odd look, it doesn’t mean they are thinking funny thoughts — they just might know what to say under the circumstances.

Lastly — as if I didn’t know this already — it was a good reminder that we can make all the plans in the world, but sometimes a giant monkey-wrench in the form of getting soaked from top to bottom gets thrown into the equation. Though I was extremely irritated that I got soaked in the morning, in retrospect so many things went for me that could have gone wrong. For starters, all of this could have happened with nobody there to rescue me — then what would I have done? It also happened a few blocks away from my apartment — imagine if I had gotten soaked to the core after I had arrived on the upper east side!

To think that it took getting drenched at seven in the morning to remind me how fortunate I am to have a nice set of dry clean clothing at home waiting in the closet and my dresser for me!

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