Hydrostatic Pressure

"Untitled (Low Tide)," by Jim Kazanjian

“Untitled (Low Tide),” by Jim Kazanjian


“Hmm, it looks like what you have here is a leaky shower pan.”

“It looks like what you have here is a leaky basement.”

“Hmm. It looks like there’s a leak somewhere in here.”

“It looks to me like you need a new catalytic converter.”

“I’m afraid the test results are consistent with a cancer diagnosis.”

“At least you spotted it early.”

“The important thing is that you spotted it early.”

“It’s too bad you didn’t spot it early.” 

“We might have been able to do something if you’d called us earlier.”

“Just so long as it doesn’t rain when the ground is frozen.”

“Just so long as we don’t get any more rain while the ground is frozen.”

“The American Cancer Society states that the five-year survival rate after diagnosis for people with stage 4 breast cancer is 22 percent.”

“We do not recommend that you go on websites that provide prognosis and survival information based on your stage of breast cancer.”

“The important thing is to stay positive.”

“The important thing is to get the water out as quickly as possible.”

“Hi, I’m Gil. In this video I’m going to show you how to deal with a basement flood by yourself.”

“Now remember, don’t try to deal with a basement flood yourself.”

“Remember, when you’re trying to stop water damage, you’re in a race against time.”

“Do you have a wet vac? You can get a little one at the corner hardware store, not too expensive.”

“A lot of people buy these little wet vacs at the corner hardware store, no way they are up to a job like this. What you wanna do is, rent one of the big ones at Home Depot.”

“A lot of people waste their time renting one of those big wet vacs from Home Depot, like that’s gonna be any use staying on top of a serious flood.”

“I’m sorry, I just work in housewares.”

“You’re gonna want to call the insurance company right away.”

“The insurance company is just going to fuck you.”

“Tear that carpet right up and get a carpet fan blowing between the carpet and the pad beneath it.”

“You might be able to save the carpet, but that pad is going to soak up water like a sponge.”

“The carpet and pad don’t really matter. The real danger is the drywall. It soaks up water just like a sponge.”

“Where did the water come in?”

“Where do you think the water came in?”

“These old houses, there’s no way of knowing where the water came in.”

“Could be the weeping tiles. Could be a crack in the foundation.”

“Daddy, is Mommy okay?”

“I doubt it’s a crack in the foundation. Probably just hydrostatic pressure.”

“We will be sending a formal letter explaining the denial of coverage for your claim.”

“Now, you have to be careful what you tell your insurance company. Don’t let them think you’ve had water issues before, or they won’t cover it.”

“The truth is, every house has water issues.”

“You gotta love these old houses, though, don’t you?”

“You see that original wood trim?”

“You see that shit bubbling up from the shower drain?”

“That’s what gives them character.”

“The real danger is the mold.”

“The thing about mold is, you can’t see it, you can’t smell it, you don’t know where it is or if you even have it. I could cut a hole in your wall, find nothing at all, but six inches away? Black mold!”

“We don’t typically do a brain CT in these situations, because if we found anything we’d be obliged to operate.”

“Oh, there’s hundreds of different kinds of mold! Now most people worry about the black mold. Because it will kill you. But the brown mold is harmless. It just smells bad and destroys the property value of your house.”

“Mold testing is hugely controversial. Since mold is always present, air-based mold testing is extremely unreliable. Multiple, long-term testing is the only way to determine if your mold content represents a problem.”

“We are going to need to readmit you right away.”

“Mold is like—oh, how to explain it—I’m trying to come up with a good metaphor for it—you know, like some kind of malignant disease? That grows and grows, where you can’t see it, until it’s too late?—Oh, it’s right on the tip of my tongue.”

“The green mold makes your kids hate you when they grow up. Well, they hate you, but they take it out on themselves.”

“What we can do is, we tear out and replace all the drywall in your basement.”

“What we can do is, we dig a trench all around your house.”

“What we can do is, put you on a waiting list for experimental drug trials.”

“Daddy, is Mommy going to be okay?”

“The grey mold corrodes civic life and democratic institutions until you wonder just what kind of world you’re leaving to your children, I mean, my god, what’s going to happen to them, really?”

“Most people worry about mold, but the real danger is that the rising water table will shift the soil and damage the structure of your house’s foundation.”

“The city wants everyone to put in a sump pump, take that strain off the storm sewers. Of course, it’ll turn your backyard into a lake, drown all that landscaping you splurged on right before you found out about your wife’s cancer.”

“It’ll cost more than the window you’ve been meaning to replace, but not as much as all the windows you need to replace.”

“It’ll cost more than the trip to Paris you splurged on last summer, but not as much as the kitchen renovation you splurged on last summer.”

“It’ll cost more than you can afford, but not so much that you can’t lie to yourself for a while.”

“You understand, this is just a ballpark figure. After we tear out all your walls and see what we’re dealing with, the price could go way up.”

“We always say, mold removal is not a glamorous renovation, like the kitchen you guys couldn’t really afford. It’s more invisible, like the cancer treatments your wife will be getting until she dies.”

“Daddy, can we have a big party when Mommy’s cancer is all better?”

“You’ll never actually know if it made any difference, but most of our customers convince themselves it was worth it. Otherwise the cognitive dissonance would be too much to stand.”

“But you can’t worry about money at a time like this, right? You have to focus on what’s really important.”

“The important thing is to be present.”

“The important thing is to leave something for your children.”

“The important thing is you have to grade the soil all around the house.”

“Oh god, nobody pays for this out of pocket!”

“The important thing is that you not forget that one thing the guy told you to do every few years when you first moved in to your house twelve years ago, when your wife was pregnant with your first child. God, do you remember those days? I mean, was anyone ever so beautiful?”

“Daddy, where’s Mommy?”

“I think I see your problem. Looks like you’re too bourgeois to know how to fix anything, but not rich enough to solve your problems with money. If you think about it, it’s like two different ways you’ve failed. You know, as a man?”

“I think I see your problem. Looks like you’re smart enough to see this is all bound up with hangups about masculinity and class and fatherhood, but not smart enough to escape those hangups.”

“You see that shit bubbling up from your shower drain? I know, it seems like a metaphor for cancer, for entropy, for all the shit you’re failing to deal with. But it’s also shit. Like, actual human feces. That you have to clean up.”

“I guess you could just leave it as it is.”

“I don’t know what to tell you.”

“I guess you could just leave it as it is for now. But what you’re gonna want to do is wake up in the middle of every night, like at three or four in the morning, and just lie there worrying about it.”

“Because that shit will keep bubbling back up.”

“The important thing is to really worry about things, you know, until you lose all perspective on them.”

“But it’s your decision.”

“Of course, it’s your call.”

“It’s hard to know.”

“There’s no way to know.”

“You’re gonna want to be careful around your smart, anxious daughter. She’s gonna pick right up on your anxiety. Especially if you try to hide it. So you have to be really honest about everything that’s happening. But, you know, never let her see that you’re afraid.”

“You see that shit bubbling up from the shower drain?”

“The real danger is, she’s going to go looking for reasons to blame herself. Of course, she gets that from you. So if you think about it, it’s really your fault.”

“You see all that shit bubbling up from below?”

“See, but if I were you I’d worry about your sweet, quiet son. He doesn’t let on how he’s feeling. He doesn’t even know how to tell you. What’s going on in his head? What kind of damage is all this doing to him? You can’t see that on an MRI.”

“That’s what gives them character.”

“The important thing is, you’ve got to be strong for your wife. I mean whatever you’re dealing with, it’s nothing next to what she’s going through. And you know she’s got to keep her strength up. She’s got to keep fighting. At the end, it all comes down to keeping positive.”

“Well, OK, at the very end it won’t make any difference. But the part right before the end.”

“You see that water damage there?”

“You see that corrosion there?”

“You hear that gurgling in the pipes there?”

“You see that spot on the MRI there?”

“Those are your failures.”

“You can’t actually see them.”

“So how did you want to pay for this today?”

“How were you going to pay for this?”

“How do you want to pay?”

(Originally published on the Facebook. You can read lots of nice comments there.)