July 25, 2024
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July 25, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Expect the Unexpected, Swimming Pool Edition

This past Presidents’ Day, my siblings were out seeing a movie and my parents were also out of the house. I myself, however, was in the study on the computer getting a bit of work done (as the saying goes, the grind never ends!). At one point, I glanced outside of the window—and then I saw a broad stream of water flowing down our driveway. It wasn’t raining (in fact, later that day it snowed instead), so where was that water coming from? I went outside and checked the gutter, but there was nothing coming out of the pipe. Then, a feeling of dread building in my stomach, I noticed that the water was seeping out from the garage door. I ran back inside and went to the inside door to the garage, and flung it open.

Surprise! We were getting a new indoor swimming pool! Or, more accurately, a pipe in the garage had come apart, as my grandfather (who came over to help us figure out what was going on) figured out. (Yes, there is a thin pipe in our garage; no, I didn’t know about that pipe until it broke, and I still am unsure where it goes to.) The pipe had come apart, my grandfather said, because it had been latched to the wall on an old support and two ends of pipe had been connected at an angle, instead of being connected normally one after the other in a straight line.

We had to turn off our house’s water for a little while—which was a shame, as I was hoping to have a Tradition instant noodle soup for lunch (my family is crazy for those)—and my grandfather found a stopgap solution for the pipe, which will hopefully be fully repaired in the spring. Meanwhile, I swept the excess water out of the garage, learning that water is not exactly a medium that is easy to sweep. But we had to get the water out of the garage, unless we wanted to keep the swimming pool—or have it transform into an indoor ice skating rink because of the cold.

All in all, it made for an interesting Presidents’ Day. (I wonder what George Washington would think.) It was a good thing that I had been home, or else who knows how flooded the garage would’ve gotten before we noticed that something was up. Our neighbors did notice and one of them called me as I was talking to my dad about the dilemma, but had we not been at the scene soon enough, perhaps our garage would’ve become more akin to the world’s largest fish tank than a bona fide garage.

It was an unexpected situation, of course. The pipe had been fine for years and years, so fine that I hadn’t even had any reason to know about it beforehand. Fortunately, we were able to deal with it before it was too late, before anything was irrevocably damaged. The whole situation did eat up some of my day, which I’ll admit was annoying, but I’m glad it could be dealt with and I’m grateful to my grandfather for being able to come quickly and help.

I’ve realized that when unexpected situations pop up, the most important thing is how we react. Can we take the situation in stride and cope with it as best as we can? What’s the best way to move forward? To use a metaphor based on the anecdote I shared above, do we let our garages become indoor swimming pools or do we try to sweep away the water?

Initially, it’s easy to react badly when something doesn’t follow the “established script” we expect it to. I was in shock when I saw the rushing water, and then angry that now I had to deal with something that was going to eat into my time to get other things done. But I’ve learned, not only from the garage situation but also from other episodes, that what matters is how we react and act after the initial shock. I decided to call my mom and tell her what was going on, and she was able to get my grandfather to come to help fix the pipe. Then, after a call from a neighbor, I worked on sweeping out the water. It wasn’t exactly the ideal way to spend my Presidents’ Day, but I decided that something had to be done. I couldn’t just let the garage flood! I chose to react in a way that hopefully could help fix the situation.

I just wanted to share this story because—besides the fact that in retrospect it’s a fun story to think about—it speaks to something that I think we all deal with during our lives. Unfortunately, my family is not actually going to be getting an indoor pool.

Oren Oppenheim, 18, is a senior at Ramaz Upper School in Manhattan and lives in Fair Lawn, NJ. He spends his free time writing and reading, and hopes to become a published novelist and a journalist. You can email him at [email protected] and see his photography at Facebook.com/orenphotography.

By Oren Oppenheim

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