The Fire Hydrant Leaks

You ever try too hard to be a decent person?

I feel as though the universe actively combats your efforts with unnecessary vigor.

Like you’re too eager, and it doesn’t trust your true intentions.

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that chaos will always prevail. You can either let it flow and mind your business, or you can fight the current and inevitably get swept away, becoming a vessel of the very madness you tried to prevent.

The fire hydrant outside my apartment is leaking.

I saw a small stream of water running down the curb one day.

Hmm…

I looked for a car being washed up the road or something. Saw nothing. Moved on with my day.

I saw the stream of water again another day.

Okay, where is this coming from?

A quick scan and I see the hydrant a few yards away, leaking a little. Mystery solved, and I thought nothing more of it. Moved on with my day.

I think knowing what the source of the water was blinded me to it for a while, but a week or two later, I paid attention again.

That hydrant is still leaking. How long has it been? That’s like…not good, right?

It isn’t good, right? It can’t be. We need that water.. That’s why we have hydrants. To have access to water. What happens if it all leaks out? Don’t I pay for this water? Taxes totally pay for fire hydrants and water and sewage and stuff.

My taxes… 

I am being billed for this leak right now.

Oh hell no.

But what to do? I guess I have to tell the city. Has anybody else cared enough to say something to someone? Has anyone even noticed the leak? Nobody is going to do anything. It’s up to me. I have to be the one. That’s noble, isn’t it? Yeah, man! I’m a good f’n citizen of Philadelphia. I’m reporting a leak! But, who do I notify? Who will fix it?

The Fire Department would be my assumption. At this point, I was on a crusade. There was levels to this. I didn’t just report some leak, like it was something simple. Being good is work. I had to research the number to the fire department, because it’s not like I could just call 911 for a hydrant.

I looked up their number and called.

No answer.

I called a second time.

No answer.

I looked up a different number.

Disconnected line.

So not only am I paying for wasted water, but I’m also paying for the fire department to not have phones that work?

I called 911 for a fire hydrant.

I had to. They made me. There was no other way. Somebody needed to know and fix this leak. Somebody, anybody.

911: 911, what’s your emergency?

Me: Yeah, hi. I don’t really have an emergency, but I don’t know who else to call. So there’s this hydrant leaking outside my apartment…

They asked my address and some questions about the hydrant, thanked me for calling it in, and said they’d send someone out as soon as possible. Felt good, I saved some water. I gave our taxes purpose. The city thanked me. I just did a good thing.

The hydrant outside my apartment is still leaking a month and a half later.

 

It leaks as I speak…

As I speak, it currently leaks…

 

I walk out everyday, and there’s that constant stream, running down my block.

I started seeing traces of my patience and sanity float by along with it, too.

 

Water.

 

Water that my taxes pay for.

Water that a concerned citizen notified the fire department about over a month ago.

Water that the fire department said they would stop from leaking.

Water that they probably heard about and hung up to promptly laugh over my concern…mocking me, having a good ol’ time.

Water that won’t be there for an emergency.

Water that won’t be there for an emergency…

 

Now wouldn’t that be unfortunate, an emergency?

 

What if, say…one of the dilapidated houses on my block just, I don’t know…caught fire…somehow? Like, that could totally happen, yeah? They’re very abandoned. Very…made of flammable material.

A fire on my block…

The fire department would rush to the scene, sirens blaring from the big red fire engine, neighbors running outside for safety, for spectacle.

The firefighters pull out the hose, connect it to the fire hydrant, and oh?

The hose points to the billowing flames, but nothing juts out.

Panic ensues from the growing audience around the block as the flames grow out of control and charred remains of abandoned house start falling, with no water to hose it down.

 

Water.

 

Where’s the water? What’s wrong with the fire hydrant? WHAT HAPPENED TO THE WATER?

 

“Oh, the water? HOW PECULIAR,” a deranged voice screams from the crowd, laughing maniacally, “WHEREVER DID IT ALL GO? OH, I THINK I SEE IT, THAT STREAM BY THE CURB TRICKLING DOWN THE STREET…A LEAK? A LEAK EMPTIED ALL THE WATER? WHAT A SHAME! IF ONLY SOMEONE REPORTED THAT LEAK BEFORE SUCH AN EMERGENCY! DID NO GOOD, CONCERNED CITIZEN NOTIFY YOU OF THIS LEAK? Maybe someone did. Maybe someone called. Where were you then, huh!? Laughing, possibly, on the other end of the line I bet? Now look at what you’ve done! Heh.. heh heh, hahaha…HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA LOOK AT WHAT YOU’VE DONE! WHO’S LAUGHING NOW?”

Yeah, soooo I’m just gonna let the hydrant leak.

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2 comments

  1. ……let’s have more pieces like ‘Growing Up Biege’
    …….I think you have my Memoir Excerpt – Growing Up Absurd”
    … ..,,If you don’t, let me know, I’ll Email to you.

    Thanks
    Akex

    Like

  2. Hi Stormy.
    Hope you are Well! Just finished reading your piece on the water leak. You have to
    remember the old Saw- No good deed goes unpunished. You saw your civic duty and
    you did it. Despite the futile outcome, you did something “good and decent”. According
    to the Buddhist tenets- it’s the process that counts, not the end result.
    Feel good just doing the “right thing”. Your essay brought back early memories of
    the neighborhood fire hydrant being only way to cool off in steamy summers.
    We lowered the water pressure in all homes on a daily basis in July and August.
    No swimming pools in West Philly, then. We did have a wonderful one in
    Fairmount Park- Crystal Pool – was adjacent to Woodside Park. City officials
    closed it rather than integrate it. Typical enlightened and tolerant attitude that
    prevailed in 1949’s.

    Always enjoy your ‘stuff’, though would like to see more memoirist material from you.,
    exploring your experience as a young African-American woman.

    Also, let me know if I can fwd you an article or two I have just written to
    post on your blog, My material always centers on theme of JUSTICE.
    Think you have a great deal to say from a sociological and psychological
    perspective.

    Let me know what you think?

    Fond Regards
    Alex

    Liked by 1 person

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