H-2-Uh-Oh, or How a Water Situation Got Me Thinking About Others

YESTERDAY MORNING, with temperatures in the single digits (which I hate), we woke up to diminished water pressure from every faucet. The water was coming out at about 60 percents, so the kitchen sink, bathroom facilities, and showers were still usable. But that’s the kind of thing you don’t mess around with. After I checked the basement pipes to make sure nothing was wrong there, I called a plumber and made an appointment.

Soon enough, the neighborhood social media chain was telling us that the problem wasn’t ours alone. A broken water main had either reduced pressure at or completely cut off service to about a thousand homes. One of our neighbors reported nothing more than a trickle dripping from her faucets.

We would literally die without water, yet we take for granted that we can have as much as we want simply by turning a handle. Our minor inconvenience got me thinking about those around the world for whom water — and food and electricity and shelter and other essentials — requires daily attention.

Fully three months after Hurricane Maria blasted Puerto Rico, parts of the island were still without power and clean drinking water. This is no far-flung, how-do-you-spell-that? country, but a United States territory less than a thousand miles off Florida’s coast. These are Americans, and they remain mired in terrible conditions, and we have just stopped caring.

Yesterday morning I had to stand for a little while longer under the shower head to rinse the shampoo out of my hair. For some of my fellow Americans that wouldn’t have been a pain in the ass but a dream come true. | DL

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