Isn’t it fascinating when a journalist goes undercover or endures harsh conditions then reports about it? Like a non-veiled woman wearing a veil for a week, or living on the poverty line for a month. They give you an alternative perspective on something you’re not used to so you can be more sympathetic or open-minded. So, let me explain what it’s like to unwillingly have no water for a full 24 hours!
Here in Beirut water isn’t exactly scarce, it’s just allotted poorly. Some people I know never experience water problems while I used to have to refill a giant water tank about every ten days.
Anyways, I had guests over and discovered we’d run out of tap water in the house. Here is a timeline of what it’s like to have no water for 24-hours.
The Night of Discovery
• It’s 8′o clock and the taps sputtered their last drop. I call the water guy and I know I shouldn’t but I learned that I can. I beg him to come by as early as he can tomorrow morning. He gives me a very unconvincing ‘yea yea.’
• After a dinner for six, no one is able to clean the dishes which are left lying in my sink. This kills me. 9/10 slots of the day my sink is spotless.
• I warn everyone and we use the toilet for peeing and just close the lid.
• When I go to bed I take some bottled water to brush my teeth and clean my hands to take my contacts out. In the morning I wake up to do the same.
The Next Morning
• 9:30 am I re-call the water guy. He says he’ll be over in two hours.
• I pace the house, tidy up, and have to bring jugs of water from my neighbors to properly flush the toilet. The water from the neighbors is YELLOW. What is the govt giving to people!?
• From 12-3 the electricity is out, still no sign of my water guy.
• It’s 2 p.m. I can’t really wash my hands much so my moves are calculated. No sign of the H2O man. I’m getting antsy.
• I need to eat, but there aren’t dishes. I meticulously peel an avocado with a knife, fork, and spoon (plastic from the reserves). Must not to get the slimy stuff on my fingers!
• At 5 p.m. I’m exasperated, thinking he’s just not coming. I craft a terse warning text to him.
Evening Brings Bitchiness
• At 6 p.m. I send the fucking message. My building man comes up to collect money for something. I tell him about the water problem. Instead of filling me with hope, he kills all my dreams of having water and tells me the water guy will probably come tomorrow. Also, the government hasn’t filled up water for at least 2 days so don’t count on that.
• It’s completely dark outside. My guests tell me they’re going to have a “strategic drink” at the bar down the street so they can take a shit. They came home shitfaced (bada bing!).
• Matias and Jorgen sense that I am distraught. They tiptoe around me while I’m in such a mood and softly suggest we order pizza, yay pizza!
Victory At Last, But Not Too Fast
• 8 p.m SUCCESS! Against all odds, water guy has arrived! I leap to the roof to pay his boy and point out my tank. Then I run downstairs and open all my taps to maximize the amount of water coming into my house. I dance around like a newly freed fairy.
• But it’s not over yet. Now we must wash 80 dishes and flush all toilets (one). Matias takes the first shift and I finish it off. With a great sigh of relief, my house is working again and my mood soars.
Despite the day of worry and dirt, I’ve come out more conscious of my resource consumption, and for that I am grateful. You can be damn sure you’ll never catch me brushing my teeth with the tap running or let the sink flow while I do other mindless tasks in the kitchen.
When you begin to realize how precious water is in your daily life, you really do gain a new perspective. And I feel so lucky for what I have regardless of the bumps in the road. Except it takes over three hours to heat my water now so fuck it, I’m not taking a shower till I get back to the US (T-3days).