IT STARTED OUT as a routine morning.
Usually, cleaning my clubs is a ritual I perform on the back patio. Putting the gear away is a somber moment for me. This is something akin to pulling the boat out, closing up the cabin, or putting away your baseball mitt. Normally, I set up my table, bring out my buckets, one of sudsy water and one of clear rinse water. I start with my cleanest rags, a wire brush for the bottom of my golf shoes and a narrow tool I use to clean out the grooves on the clubfaces. But today was different. It was sprinkling or raining on and off all morning, so I moved the enterprise to the work-side of the basement.
It’s somehow not the same. A couple fluorescent light fixtures and an old incandescent bulb just don’t feel quite the same as the warmth of a fall sun on your skin. And the sound of my wife, on the other side of the wall, running her sewing machine over her quilt binding, lacks the soothing sounds of burnt orange and ruby red leaves softly rustling in the trees. I switched out my usual beer, normally sipped from a cut crystal Detroit Police mug, and was sipping the dregs of a decaf coffee instead. Not being the kind of guy who throws away anything that has any life in it, I was comfortably ensconced in a leather, rolling, chair on wheels, and the duct tape that seals the tears, and bruises no longer sticks to my pants. It’s actually the perfect way to do a job like this. Maybe I’ll bring the chair outside next year.
It wasn’t long before the shafts were spotless, the heads were cleaned and even the club covers had been hand-washed. I emptied out all the pouches, compartments and mesh pockets, organized the contents, tossed what isn’t going back in, and washed down the golf-bag with a clean rag. Before long, I was almost done and found myself already wanting to take these clean old beauties back out onto the course, just to show them off.
I have two different pair of golf shoes. One set is water resistant and they are of some new material like soft plastic, or synthetic leather. They clean up pretty easily with a rag and some soap. But the other shoes are leather. They have been around for years and I take very good care of them. You may know the kind I’m talking about. They’re black with a brown basket-weave, saddle shoe style shoe. They’re waterproof, and man, are they comfortable. I figure that after about twenty years now, they are almost broken in. So the last step of the ritual is to polish the shoes.
I keep a piece of brown butcher paper, wide and long enough to cover my workbench for projects that stain, like black shoe polish. That bad boy is crinkled, and looks like the dickens, but it’s still serviceable. In about fifteen minutes those shoes were shiny enough to wear to church (back in the day when people cleaned up and shined their shoes to go to church.) Speaking of cleaning up, this is the dreaded part of any project, but especially putting up my summer toys.
Before long, I’ve wiped up all the water on the floor, and vacuumed the debris and detritus from another golf season.
Right behind where I’m working is our furnace, and adjacent to it is a nice clean, dry area where I can store my clubs until Spring. I lift them and I’m carefully watching my footing, when I glance off to the side of floor, and notice that the drain-cover for the furnace’s humidifier water run-out is not set properly on the floor.
I set the bag down and go to tap the drain cover with my foot, to re-seat it. That’s when I notice that the little plastic strap that should hold it in place is broken. Odd. But I have another, and soon I’m back in a jiff, kneeling on the basement floor to strap the pipe back to the cover. I lift the cover and have one of those “holy crap” moments!
The drain water in the drain hole is about an inch from running onto the floor! Quickly, I run to the sump pump closet in the finished side of the basement and, kneeling again (why is it that so much emergency stuff is at ground level?), I see that the sump basin is almost full and will soon be emptying onto our basement floor from there too. And since all the drain lines seem to be full already, that’s going to be a lot of water rising soon. It’s at moments like this that you can test your limits of knowing when to say something out loud to your wife, about a pending disaster. Fortunately, even though she knew something was amiss by my hasty run to the sump closet, she was engrossed in her sewing and likely figured I could handle it. Oh, to have that confidence.
I had to reach into some really grungy water to find the sump trigger lever. It was in the down position, meaning it couldn’t activate the pump. I felt around in that dark water, thinking of snakes, and alligators, sharks, beetles, and spiders, or whatever other scary movie creatures inhabit such swampy places. I found the lever, manually lifted it, and thankfully heard that pump start. It ran non-stop for over twenty minutes, alternating between pumping itself empty and rapidly re-filling, over and over and over. Meanwhile the big pipe, leading into the basin, just poured water into that dark hole, like it would never end.
Eventually it cleared and the running water slowed to barely a trickle. I stood, with a smile of accomplishment and thought back to that first moment of discovering the rising water in the drain.
How fortunate that I saw it. But the circumstances in front of that fortuitous moment were nearly miraculous. Club-cleaning is normally a project I’d do outside. I worked inside, right next to that drain, and never bothered to look at it, much less listen for anything out of the ordinary. I was nearly finished with cleaning up and putting things away, when I just happened to glance down at that very moment, at that very spot. Had the pipe strap not been broken, I doubt that I would have lifted the drain cover. Otherwise … I don’t even want to think about otherwise.
Was this series of events just one lucky coincidence after another? Maybe. But I like to think I’m not merely lucky, I’m blessed.