I noticed the smell about a couple of weeks ago. I searched around the apartment, but couldn’t figure out what it was. It was familiar. Yes, it was. But what was it? Each day when I arrived home, nostrils untainted, I sniffed. And I sniffed. What was it? Cardboard? Mold? Wetness. That’s what is was. Wetness. But where?
I was determined to find the source of the smell. I cleaned. I scrubbed. I Cloroxed. I Lysoled. Where was it coming from? The kitchen, yes. But where? The recycling? No. The trash? No. Finally, I found it. The shelves. The knickknack shelves that daddy and I had created from the broom nook. The shelves were pushed out, the back wall buckled from moisture. That’s what the smell was, wet particle board. Yuck.
I called my landlady and she agreed, yes, it was not good. A couple of days later the plumber came. He tried to take out the affected wood and ended up knocking a hole through the wall in between my kitchen and my living room. The plaster just collapsed, weak from the moisture that had seeped through the walls.
She wasn’t comfortable with him. She wanted a second opinion. I returned home the next day to two holes in my ceiling and five messages on my answering machine. As I listened to the messages, all from my landlady, in each one the anxiety building, I laughed. This truly was comic.
Message 1: “Lori, I’m coming over in a few minutes with the new plumber. I just wanted to see if you were home.”
Message 2: “He can’t seem to find anything wrong. He sees the damage, but can’t find the source. We’re going to check the apartments above and below you.”
Message 3: “We’re on our way back to your apartment. There’s only minor damage in the apartments above and below you. Are you there?”
Message 4: “This doesn’t look good. He’s thinking he may need to take out more of the wall to get to the pipes. I’ll keep you updated.”
Message 5: “I don’t know if you’ll get this message first or see the holes in your ceiling first. We had to cut out portions of your ceiling. The plumber can’t fix anything until you physically see water dripping. Let me know if you see anything.”
Of course, I haven’t seen anything since the ceiling was decimated. The smell is still present; the wall (what remains) is still damp. But no water spouting forth from any of the exposed pipes. I wonder how long the waiting game will last?