The deluge sprawls across my neighbor’s roof and conspires with gutter currents before careening through the trough hole and hurling itself over my wall. Concrete crevices channel the snaking streams into a monstrous lagoon. Watery vipers slither beneath my garage door and soak boxes of periodically-used possessions. The moat beneath my automobile baits my shoes to swim. I wade to my car door. Frustration from soaked soles burns my last straw in a flame of fury.
It’s not my carport devoid of a drain pipe. It’s not my carport drenching my property. It’s not my carport built on the property line instead of sitting three feet back as the city code requires. But the rain doesn’t care. My neighbor doesn’t care. Only I care.
Amiable attempts at resolution by my valiant better-half erupt in high emotions and no resolution. The rain refuses to stop, and now my husband is ten thousand miles away. The thoughtlessness, laziness, and whatever-ness of my tempestuous neighbor flood my mind. Why won’t he reroute the rain into his own yard? Why is he so averse to attaching a drain pipe to his gutter? I feel indignant, discouraged, and disempowered.
I can’t stop the rain.
Retaliate or Respond
Wait…I am supposed to be a transition person. I know I can’t control how others act but only how I react. Why do I keep dwelling on win-lose thoughts that ultimately lead to a lose-lose situation? How can I take back my power?
Heart burning in my throat, I greet my neighbor. He pretends not to hear. I wave an invisible olive branch, telling him I’m sorry about the other day. He hesitates. I express my desire to resolve this amicably. He grasps the imaginary leaves in his hands.
He tells me it’s a simple solution that costs only fifty cents. I should cover his gutter hole with a cap. He insists I install it because the flooding is not his problem. While my retreating face blazes red, I fume but smother my smoke signals. Annoyed he is still acting in that whatever-ness way to me, I stomp to my sanctuary.
My smoldering self-chatter clears, freshening my focus on the solution. I decide it’s a win for me. I have permission to fix the problem. I drive to the hardware store, smiling.
I can stop the rain.
I search in vain for the cap. I wait for the clerk to finish with three other customers before my turn. The cap is not only elusive but also a figment of my neighbor’s imagination.
How can I stop the rain now?
The next morning, drizzle turns to downpour as I ready for work. Hoping to avoid another lake, I connect a spare drain pipe to the gutter hole, directing the flow entirely into my neighbor’s yard. Satisfied I have stemmed the surge, I drive to work, beaming.
As I pull into my driveway that evening, I notice the drain pipe, discarded, lying on its side. I retrieve it and read the words “jacky tacky looks like shit” indelibly scrawled across its face. Fanned by his whatever-ness, indignant flames spark. Stifling the blaze, I remind myself to concentrate on the solution and not his behavior. I choose my response.
I knock. My neighbor opens his door. I explain that his idea would have been great if such a cap existed. He maintains I should have asked him before attaching the drain pipe. I justify that he was not home when the rain began. He asserts it’s my pavement’s fault this is happening and recommends I rip out and re-pour my 40-year-old concrete to slope differently. Oh, now his non-existent drain pipe and non-compliant carport require a $5,000 solution? A flame licks my ego. I want to spit fire, but I swallow and instead choose my response.
Can I get a little sympathy from him? I explain how I feel when I breach the moat. That helps. He makes another suggestion. I should take a piece of plastic the same size and shape as the gutter opening and seal it with silicone to block the hole. That way, water will be forced to flow to the opposite side’s idle drain spout—away from my property.
Still, he asserts it’s only my problem. Yet, again, I have permission to stop the rain.
Resolution and Reflection
The helpful hardware man explains that plastic and metal don’t bond, and certainly not with silicone when it’s wet and rainy. Sheet metal will work if gooped with roof tar. This is not my first choice of adhesive. At home, I pry open a crusty container and confirm black ooze remains from a roof patching project.
Despite the evening’s dark drizzle, I psych myself into this task. I scoop out layers of decaying leaves and other muck from the trough only to discover screws impeding a flush cover mount. After trying eight sockets, I find the right size and twist them out one by one. I smear a black blob on the metal and squish it into the gutter. Gloves protect my hands from the tar, but I forget that it doesn’t shield the tools and flashlight.
Droplets turn to torrents. Somehow, I brush my arm against a glob of tar. My soaking clothes stick like glue, but the downpour won’t wash away the gloppy mess. My task complete, inside I find cleaner strong enough to remove tar from my arms, hands, and tools. Thirty minutes later, I check my cleaning progress in the mirror. Relief floods that I avoided getting globules in my hair.
Realization seeps through that by redirecting the deluge I did not stop the rain. Yet, my face shines upon reflection. Choosing my response has empowered a different force.
I have quenched the firestorm.
Rain image © Craig Barhorst used under license from Shutterstock.com