Last night around 1:30 a.m. I heard the sound of gushing water.
Odd, I thought. It wasn't raining when I checked before. But I kept working since I'm on deadline and when I'm on deadline and behind I work until 2 a.m. I figured I'd check what was going on in a half hour.
Meanwhile the gushing sound was getting louder. My cat was circling around. The last time I heard such a disturbing water-related sound was when I was staying on the fifth floor of a hotel in San Diego with a seven story level artificial waterfall outside my door during an earthquake. I remember waking up and watching my wheelchair roll across the hotel room out of my reach as the room shook and said to my roomie who was watching hers roll around "What do we do now?"
She said "I vote for going back to sleep" and turned over.
But she wasn't here so I rolled over and opened the front door and looked out. The fire hydrant across the street was gushing water in biblical proportions. It made those pictures of kids playing in the stream of fire hydrants in New York city in the summer look lame. This fire hydrant meant business - it was gushing and spewing water up, down and sideways.
A few minutes later two men and two flashlights showed up. I heard banging. The water stopped. Then the gushing started again. I heard muttering, a few choice words, hammering, creaking and two tiny flashlight beams appeared, were blocked, reappeared in the dark night.
Then, suddenly, it was silent. The men left. I opened the door and looked out at the errant fire hydrant. There it was, surrounded by pools of water. I'd never even looked at that fire hydrant before.
But it sure got everyone's attention tonight. It reminded me of the times I've dealt with people who "gush", those who vent and are seen as "overreacting". It is true that sometimes people do behave unreasonably and out of proportion to what's going on. But there are other times when, like the fire hydrant, something really has gone wrong and the "gushing" is a signal for help.
As I went to bed feeling very tired, it somehow renewed my faith that the work I do is important even if I only do the equivalent of silencing one "gush" in one place by offering help.