On this day of the grand unfurling of the Apple Tablet –which is a pretty cool product — my attention has been diverted back to the majesty of the natural gas hot water heater. This device, a pillar of modern civilization and depicted in all of its newly installed glory here, is every bit of uber-hightech to me, today. Why? Because I lived without it for three days in a house with 10 people, some of who continued their daily roll in the yard with the dogs inspite of a lack of an end-of-day hot shower to restore their bodily atmosphere to a life-sustaining state. Yes, the new tankless heaters are cool and a greener option, and if they weren’t three times the cost of the old-school unit I would have installed one. But for now, this one is, to me, my very own cutting-edge piece of tech. I have looked into the no-hot-water-heater abyss, and believe me when I say that the gray tank over there is an Apple Tablet, thorium-powered nuclear reactor, Bugatti Veyron all wrapped into one.
NOTE: If you live in the Austin area and have hot water issues, these guys installed mine and they were great. They have the tankless too.
Today, our hot water heater passed away. It had been clinging to life support for days, maybe weeks, and I didn’t even know it. My wife discovered the hot water leak. It was flowing out through a breach in the top of the 50-gallon tank, down the sides into the overflow pan, out through the overflow pipe through the outside wall and into our garden. She saw birds having a lovely warm bath and wondered how that was possible. Then we pried open the swollen door to the water heater closet in the garage and witnessed the result of warm moisture allowed to do its thing in a dark enclosed space. I’ll just say some sheetrock is coming out, and we can leave it at that.
But the thing that really scares me is young boys without a bath for 48-plus hours. This is not something that modern suburban life prepares you for. Strange odors multiply rapidly when soap with the stripping power of paint thinner is not applied to a young boy’s body ever 24 hours. And since most pre-10-year-olds seem determined to wear the same clothes at least three days in a row, some clothes our house will soon start walking around on their own without the respite of shower time and a clean body every 86,400 clicks of the second hand. What will I be able to say to the boys tonight when they scream, “Dad, there’s a monster in the corner!” with the knowledge that it is not their imagination. We will both be screaming.
While on the subject of the civilization-sustaining miracle of hot water, what is going on in that shower with the teen girls, and boys, who take 30-minute vacations in there? Maybe the term sabbatical, defined by Wikipedia as “a rest from work, or a hiatus, often lasting from two months to a year,” is derived from the original Greek Sabbathical. Strangely, it is the young atmosphere-altering boys who actually need 30-minute showers with multiple soap and rinse cycles but who would just as soon step in, shoot water around the shower stall for a few minutes, do some hieroglyphics on the glass, and then get out, still wet and dirty, and put their pajamas on inside-out and backwards.
H E L P !