An Unpleasant Surprise


Life Face First: Negotiating One Calamity at a Time

Happily, I reached for my kayak.

My husband Brian and I were to spend our day paddling on a local lake. Our cooler was packed, we were dressed for the day and the only thing left to do was load our kayaks and enjoy ourselves.

We drove across our apartment complex to the onsite garage that we rent. Not only do we store our kayaks there, but since we moved from a three-bedroom house into a single bedroom apartment, we store much of our furniture there as well.

I touched the top of my kayak and pulled my hand back in confusion.

“Why is my kayak wet?” I asked Brian. We hadn’t paddled in a week.

I looked at a small inexpensive set of shelves stored beside my kayak. The cheap pressboard had expanded with moisture and the finish was peeling away from one corner.

“There’s moisture in the garage,” I told him.

He came over for a closer look.

“Didn’t we store your kayak on its side?” he asked me.

We had. We always do. We never let it sit flat on its bottom as it was sitting then.

I peered around the garage. Furniture was damp. Cardboard boxes were sagging. A steady line marked the bottom of all our belongings.

Slow, horrible realization dawned. The heavy rain four nights ago had flooded our garage with enough water to float my kayak off its side and leave it sitting as though it was floating on a peaceful lake. Most of our belongings were ruined, and instead of spending a day kayaking, we would be spending the day cleaning out our garage.

I quickly scanned the garage to assess the damage. An office desk, our lawn mower, furniture from my childhood and a refrigerator were just a few of the casualties.

Kayaking was out. We reluctantly notified the front office of the disaster, phoned our insurance company and returned to our apartment to change into work clothes.

We kept the cooler. We were going to need cold drinks.

We worked all day in the intense heat. We pulled our treasures from the flood, photographed them for our insurance and piled them in the trash. What was salvageable was moved to another onsite garage high up the hill from our flooded one.

We watched as owners of neighboring garages assessed their own damage. Mattresses soaked, lawn gear trashed, equipment for businesses ruined.

Hours of work in the sun and heat compiled with significant loses made us irritable.

“It would have been more fun to go kayaking,” Brian complained.

“I couldn’t agree with you more,” I said as I threw away a favorite, ruined piece of artwork.

Brian smirked. Then, overcome with some private silly thought, he began laughing.

I stared at him. Anger was usually his mood in such situations. I worried he might have been in the sun too long.

“What?” I asked cautiously while I tried to decide if I should dial 911.

“Our kayaks went kayaking,” he said of the flood. “If only we’d known, we could have paddled in the garage!”


Nora Blithe

Nora Blithe is the author of the syndicated humor column “Life Face First.” Read her blog online at