Monday, August 13, 2007

There's this carpet. Outstanding carpet. Nice, tight weave.

"There's this carpet. Outstanding carpet. Nice, tight weave." These are the immortal words of Marva (played by Tisha Campbell), one of the stars of the short-lived but well-loved (at least by my family) television movie and then series of 1986-88 entitled Rags to Riches. Simply rewriting these words cannot capture the beauty and hilarity of their delivery. The words themselves cannot capture Marva's genuine enthusiasm for the material comforts available to her in the home of frozen food tycoon Nick Foley--who has adopted her and her friends from an orphanage in a public relations ploy. Marva loves it all, even the carpet. You know where this is headed and, if you don't, you have not watched enough television. Nick never meant for the girls to be a permanent fixture in his life. He never meant to get close to them. He never meant to become a father. And Nick never imagined how often they would break into sing, cleverly rewriting the lyrics to 50s and 60s hits. But he became a father, and they all sang their hearts out. My family taped several episodes of this show, and they were watched almost as often as the original Parent Trap (which means, very often).

But I digress because what I mean to say is that there's this carpet and it's new and it's in my basement. The story of this carpet is more riches to rags than rags to riches.

The short version of the carpet saga is that Chicago experienced a brief period of hurricane-level rains one day in June. Several roads and underpasses flooded, and most basements in my neighborhood filled with various levels of water. In our case, we got just enough water to ruin our basement carpet and cover our bathroom floor. The water was sewer backup, but before you go picturing and smelling the worst, it was what was called "sanitary sewage." We cleaned up, we sanitized, we bought new carpet.

The long version is not particularly exciting, but I feel compelled to record it for posterity. I will attempt to sub-divide my ramblings so as to stay somewhat focused.

1. The day of the sewer backup was a comedy of errors.
As if it was not enough that the sewer backed up in my basement, I was informed of the situation by my youngest brother as he writhed in pain on my family room couch. Two summers ago, a large tree fell on Boo's ankle and pretty much crushed it. He has a high tolerance for pain. Thus, when I called my mom to talk through his symptoms, she felt that if he was in that much pain, we ought to go the hospital in case it was appendicitis.

Now, there was no way I was going to bring the bub to the emergency room with us. I called my husband and asked him to come home early and he was on his way. Then, my friend happens to call (I've never asked why she was calling), and I conscript her into watching the bubby until the hubby gets home.

Due to the flooding, both are delayed in traffic. When my friend arrives, she exits my garage only to slide into a huge mud slick. She enters the house covered in mud all along one side of her body. She has scraped herself and is bleeding as well. "I'm fine. Just go," she says. "All I need is some clothes and some band-aids." I hand over the clothes, but know for a fact that we have no band-aids.

My brother did not have appendicitis, though it took us a good six hours at the hospital to confirm this. Silver lining: we did not have to spend that time shop-vaccing.

2. Our basement carpet could not have been ruined at a worse time.
This summer we had two twenty-one year old boys living with us . . . in our basement. They spent the bulk of the summer trying to avoid the carpet tacks that still lined the perimeter after the carpet was removed and trying to relax on a painted cement floor with obvious dried carpet glue everywhere. They also had the privilege of participating in the carpet removal and sanitizing process (which involved gloves, face masks, and a disinfectant that was a lot stronger than we all bargained for). Silver lining: we now own a large amount of a disinfectant that is strong enough to kill HIV.

3. This new carpet selection process only reaffirmed my decision to NEVER SHOP AT HOME DEPOT again.
I don't know if I could get sued for slander, so I will not go into detail. I will just say that back in April, I vowed to never shop at Home Depot again. I called and canceled my credit card, contacted customer service, and complained to anyone who would listen about the crappy experience I had trying to buy a ceiling fan. Should I as a consumer have to search out someone in an orange vest and then beg him/her to help me spend my money? I violated my own boycott by returning to Home Depot for the carpet because of a previous unobjectionable carpet-buying episode there. I won't rehash the details because my blood is already boiling as I write this. A convergence of inaccurate information, miscommunication, bureaucracy, and rudeness led me to cancel my Home Depot carpet order. I was promised a return on my $35 measuring fee as well, but that did not happen and I am just trying to get over it. Clearly, I'm over it. Silver lining: I now know for a fact that I will never shop at Home Depot again and that knowledge gives me a sense of peace.

4. It took a long time to get new carpet.
Mostly because of point 3. It took a while for me to recover from the HD affair and to re-enter the world of the home services industry. As we waited, our basement dwellers continued to suffer. My bubby could not spend time in the basement for fear he would need a tetanus shot after stepping on a carpet tack and/or that he would fall and crack his head on the hard concrete floor. Silver lining: we decided that since this was all such a time sink, we'd go ahead and re-carpet the steps leading down to the basement at the same time. They look especially awesome!

5. New carpet is not free (thus, the reason this is a riches to rags with the appearance of riches story).
Flood insurance does not cover sewer backup, though I don't think we have flood insurance. Apparently, you can buy sewer backup insurance. From whom? From the city, the same city tasked with making sure the sewers don't back up. Silver lining: this whole experience has influenced me to be a more frugal spender so I'm more ready for surprises like this one. (Okay, I'm fibbing).

But anyway, the carpet is here. It smells like new house. It makes me happy. "There's this carpet. Outstanding carpet. Nice, tight weave." NTB. Silver lining: I promise to never mention it again.


PITA said...

1. I have two words for you ....frozen popcorn.

2. I would also like to say that I am participating in a Home Depot boycott as well. Just a few weeks ago I had a run-in with young Tim, a sales associate. I was attempting to purchase an area rug. The rug was evidently mismarked, and they would not honor the marked price. NTB - but I think I got the last laugh when I said Tim I would just go across street to Loew's and never come back here again. I think taking a stand against these injustices is very important. In 2004, I had a Papa John's pizza boycott for about a year. It was tough. I am also in a Best Buy boycott as well. NTB - but I know my lack of shopping at both stores is really effecting their profits.

Anonymous said...

I have had the pleasure of cleaning raw sewage out of my basement twice. The first time, novice as I was, I encouraged my brother just to throw his new deck shoes away because we'd get even better ones with the insurance money. Needless to say,we too were disappointed when the city and the insurance company both felt that this was an act of God and was not covered. So my brother got to help clean up --- and lost his brand new topsiders! We ended up leaving our very favorite neighborhood ever and the baseball field and backyard basketball court but we have never had to clean raw sewage again. Also, I would like to encourage everyone to hold firm with the boycotts. There's nothing wrong with holding a grudge. Mammy

CJR said...

I think MTP's contributions to the clean-up are underplayed in this post. Recently, my parent's third floor was taken over by bees. The third time my mom brought it up with dad, he said "Suzanne, I can't help you. I have an inordinate fear of bees" and that was it. CJR

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