On an unassuming Friday, Thomas and I were just getting ready to meet up with our co-workers for a relaxing Friday night dinner. As we walked to our door, I spotted something that stole my breath away. A flood, emerging rapidly beneath our door.
Ripping the door open, I found that the hallway outside our apartment was entirely flooded in about a half inch of water. Shouting a battle cry back to Tommy, I took off towards the stairwell from whose door the water was gushing. I wrenched the door open.
“Don’t go!” Tommy shouted back to me. Outside, rain lashed the windows. “Someone probably left a window open.”
“Then we need to shut it!” I declared, my sneakers squelching through the water as it tumbled down the stairs resembling a dirty concrete waterfall.
“You don’t know what’s up there,” Tommy warned me, the stairwell door swinging shut behind me.
As I crept cautiously up the stairs, my mind flashed with visions of a burst water pipe, an overflowing sink or shower. I turned the corner onto the seventeenth floor. The water continued to seep down from the next floor. I stepped past the stream of water up towards the eighteenth floor.
“Ni hao!” I called into the void of darkness and water, anger lacing my heavily accented words.
Abruptly a paper thin maintenance worker peered around the corner at me. His eyes widened in disbelief as I gestured angrily towards the water surrounding my sneakers.
“Zai nali?” I demanded in my poor attempt to ask where the water was coming from, jabbing at the water, then proceeding to stomp in it as I ascended toward him.
He spoke rapidly to someone out of my sight. As I crested the landing, I turned to see a female worker on the nineteenth floor holding a white house. I gaped. It was worse than I could have ever imagined.
There was no busted pipe, there was no overflowing sink. There was only the hose and the stairs. These two people were washing the stairs. Washing the concrete stairs by flooding them. The apparent logic being the water would somehow roll its way down nineteen flights of stairs to the basement.
I waved desperately for the man to follow me. He did. Down the increasingly flood stairs to where all of that water was pouring out directly into our hallway and from there directly under the door of our apartment.
Tommy was earnestly attempting to push the water out with a mop as it soaked into our fake wood floors. The frail maintenance worker looked in shock about him at the thoroughly flooded sixteenth floor. Tommy and I angrily gestured around us at the wrecked hallway and entry way to our apartment.
The fail man disappeared back up the stairs and reappeared shortly after with a broom. He used the broom to push the water from the hallway back into the stairwell. Where it went from there is anyone’s guess.
He did not attempt to help us fix our apartment. Rather, as soon as some of the water was gone from the hallway, he disappeared. And thus, the China Hydro Engineer became our arch nemesis.
To be continued . . .