Last year I noticed a wet spot on the basement floor. My basement is a horror zone, a place zombies go for R&R. The utilities are down there, some shelving, some pallets to keep stuff above the high tide line. It would be damp and moldy if I didn't run a dehumidifier all summer.
Anyway, the wet spot was by the furnace drain line. Did that have a hole in it? I got to the bottom of things, but the drain line looked fine. Then "plop," a drop. I stuck the trouble light into the floor joists. "Plop." A water line was leaking. Where does that go? I get disoriented in the basement. OK, there's the tub drain and hot and cold lines. This must be the line for the toilet. "Plop." I put an ice cream bucket under the leak and came back next day. It was filled a quarter of the way. I can live with that.
The next time I was in the basement I looked at the problem more closely. A copper pipe came down from the toilet and connected to a plastic line that ran to the main water intake line across the basement. The leak was in the fitting where the copper and plasrtic lines joined. I could get a couple of wrenches and try tightening the connection. "You're kidding, right?" said my 11th commandment obeying self. I went away. The next time I came down, the leak had stopped. "You see? Doing nothing is best," said my do-nothing self.
Winter and spring passed. Summer started, and when I was in the basement the other day, the bucket was full to overflowing. I emptied it. The next day it was one third full, an amount I could live with. And then I came upon "Eisenhower's Box." President Eisenhower prioritized all his tasks into one of four "boxes,"
First came important and urgent jobs. Those you did right now, like working on that speech you're giving in Congress tomorrow. Next came important but not urgent things, like exercising. Those things you scheduled to do. Unimportant but urgent things, like scheduling flights, you delegated to an assistant. Unimportant and non-urgent things like watching TV or checking social media, you deleted. Ike didn't win World War II by being a nice guy.
At first I put fixing the leak into the second box. It was important, but not urgent. But was it really not urgent? It was getting worse. What if it broke loose while we were away? That would create a mess even the zombies wouldn't like.
So I moved fixing the leak over to box one and got my wrenches. As I tightened the nut, the dripping increased. Hmmm. I tightened a little more. Now a steady stream shot onto the shelving that held a variety of boxes and bins. "Now you've buggered it, my boy!" I shut off the main water supply, ran upstairs and opened the sink faucets, flushed the toilet, and turned on the garden hose. When I got back to the basement, the leak had quit.
"Here's another fine mess you've gotten us into," a little voice whined. I was now ready to delegate this job to a plumber, but delegating is supposedly for unimportant jobs. Here's where Eisenhower's Box started to break down for me.
I couldn't quit so easily. I rummaged my brain pan. It may surprise you that long ago I was an auto mechanic for a couple of years. I used to put Teflon tape on threaded connections to prevent leaks. Maybe that would work. I searched my toolbox and found the tape. Its plastic container was yellow with age, but the springy tape was pristine. I wrapped a length around the threads then tightened the nut, and turned on the water. No leak! "God job, soldier," I imagined Ike saying.
My next job was taking everything off the shelves so it could air dry. "If it's wet, let it dry," is another of my 11th commandments. I've got a million of 'em.
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