One step further down.
By Sue Langenberg

As the song goes, “…there’s always one step further down you can go…” (“Annie”) It is something we have to remember from time to time because otherwise we think that we are the only one in the world with problems.
I was convinced of that. It all began with a storm (pick a storm, any storm) that fried my computer and modem along with it. As a free lance writer, e-life is not about playing computer games, as I explained to various “service” people (the word “service” is to be taken with a grain of salt), it is about day to day thriving and all the e-trappings that go along with it.
But then Joplin, Missouri, had a bigger problem; they had nothing left to fry. No computer tower, no e-anything, just sticks that churned into the next county and some memories, lucky to be alive.
So after a full week of showing up at the library in my pajamas – well, almost – to check my email and attempt a different keyboard (one wrong move and everything evaporated), I was less than thrilled that the server guy dared be so long to get to me. Then I realized that an entire tower fried in the next county. He said, “…my tower is bigger than your tower.” I agreed that I wouldn’t kill the messenger.
The next storm (pick a storm, any storm) ushered more water in my basement than all of the 27 years dwelling in this house. I saw that an eave near the back porch was clogged and Niagara Falls had swiftly relocated itself to my address in the Midwest and poured directly into the foundation. Naturally, I swore, unclogged the mud beneath the deluge of rain and came back in. I didn’t melt and noted that my basement drain worked just fine. But in the process, saw another area of the basement where water was pouring in dangerously close to my shiny new furnace.
By this time, a bottle of wine was the only solution. I also remembered that there are people in this area who routinely lose appliances with every flooding event to be had. Other people also don’t melt but have to be rescued by boat from their neighborhoods. Okay. I’m still not “one step further down…” But I will likely have to arm myself with a push broom next time and show the excess water where that friendly drain is.
My next perceived trauma was that also for the first time in 27 years, a bat flipped through my first floor. For two nights I awoke screaming. The next three nights, I stayed at a friend’s. I know. What a lightweight, they accuse me. My daughter snickers, but forgets that she has a husband, or better known as a “bat getter.” And yes, I understand that bats are beneficial for our environment, but the whole point to living in houses, in my mind, is that you have peace of mind away from the outside elements.
By the time I paid for computer repair, bat getter assessment and handy-dandy man to tighten the attic and chimney, my checkbook was getting thin. But then, there are people worse off with a lot less. So I kept my mouth shut. The same handy-dandy man cleared my garage of various useless items so I could squeeze my small VW bug into a huge garage. I noticed that he was separating the metal stuff from other stuff. I asked where the metal would go and he said that a homeless man he knows would get $10 for it and be grateful for the day.
I guess there’s always one step further down you can go…

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