I never thought this kind of honor would come to me, but I must accept it.
It started yesterday with a knock on my door. A big sewer employee had a plastic water bottle filled with a mysterious yellow liquid. He asked me if I could pour down this liquid into my kitchen sink to help with the sewer work in front of my apartment. I asked what was in it and he said just a dyed water and I said sure. He instructed me to keep the sink running for 2 minutes and to flush the toilet so that the water could flush the chemicals. I did that and then signaled to the crew the job was done.
No, dear reader, this is not what made me an honorary member. About eight hours later at night, there was a steady stream of water from the area that had been worked on that day. I examined it carefully in the middle of the road and the water was coming from a crack in the pavement. It didn’t smell like a sewer but it was a result of the work that was done yesterday. This isn’t the reason either. I also noticed behind my apartment that there was another leak from the sewer in the basement that was pouring out into the parking lot. This had been a problem before, so I called the building management and they dispatched an emergency maintenance guy to look at it. At the same time, I called 311 filed a report, and argued with the dispatcher that this wasn’t an EPA problem but a sewer works problem due to the work that had been done that day.
Now both the sewer manager arrived and I spoke with him, and the building maintenance guy arrived at the same time and I spoke with him. I directed them both to each other and at 10 at night more men and trucks started arriving to fix the issue. They started up the loud machinery and worked on it all night and still working on it now.
No one made a report of this problem even though hundreds of people saw there was a problem. Not only did my neighbors see it, but the drivers on this road were driving through large puddles of flowing water which indicated a problem as well. Often in life people don’t report a problem that could minimize the cost to repair, the waste of water and resources, and improve their own lives.
This morning I woke up to an email from the building saying that the hot/cold water would be out along with the sewer. Last week we had the power out, so my time spent camping has prepared me for this. It is incredible but living in a major city has had less reliable utilities than when I used to live in a small town. Oh, when I reported these things to 311 they sent me both an email/text saying that the case was filed and today they emailed me for feedback on the experience.
Now I could have had a good night’s sleep if I hadn’t called them last night. However since I did call, they spent all night outside and hopefully that allowed them to fix this problem sooner/faster. The email said that the water main was broken and gave no timeline for repair.
The sewer department manager I spoke to last night thanked me for calling it in and shook my hand. It’s a small thing but we all have the power to make the world a better place, even if it interrupts our sleep.