It Started with a Little Leak, or Ode to Long Distance Landlording 

This story is 100% true.  I hadn’t planned to record or share this saga, but it’s just been too insane to forget.  I decided to capture it as a poem to keep the story from rambling on and on forever, and to keep myself from turning into a weeping mess over my keyboard.


It started with a little leak onto the kitchen floor
From an old dishwasher that’d been repaired before.
“It’s no surprise.” “It’s old.” It’s time; let’s just go to the store
And pick a new one out so we will have damp floor no more.”


We picked a model from online and felt we had alliance
With our home town big box store to sell and install the appliance.
“You bet! No problem! On it’s way!” “Great, you have our reliance!”
But then it seemed the install work was outside of compliance.


For weeks went by and all seemed well, but little did we know…
A hidden leak was dripping down and soaking in below
Along the wall, across the floor, invisible and slow
Until the day it got so far, floorboards began to bow.

The renters called and said, “We fear the install was no good.
We fixed the broken piece but now there’s water in the wood
Beneath the kitchen laminate so unfortunately you should
Pull up the damaged pieces, dry, and replace if you could.”


So we called the store to say, “Hey you – that install job was bad!”
They said, “It’s under warranty, and we understand you’re mad.
But give us time to call our boss and we think he’ll be glad
To discount a replacement floor – better than what you had!”


The back and forth went on for days.  For weeks.  For months.  For years?
We settled on a contract price, but not for lack of tears.
They did no wrong, but took their time in what frankly appears
To be the complicated pushing of some giant corporate gears.


While all of this was going on, one day I got a call
Again from our dear renter saying, “You won’t like this at all…
The dishwasher has leaked again, and this time it’s not small.
Now drain water is spraying out – what’s with this guy’s install?!”


I sent the pics straight to my guy and said “It’s not OK!
We can’t install new floor next week with the dishwasher this way!”
He passed me to a plumber who “should call you any day”
But he didn’t – so I bade my time, then I called HIM to say,


“You’re s’posed to fix my dishwasher, but this project makes me tired.
Are the you guy who put it in?” “No, that guy has been fired.
But worry not because the store and I have just conspired
To do WHATEVER it may take to know this thing’s well wired.”


Alas it seemed to all be done.  Floor install date was set.
The flooring guys pulled up the old, but SURPRISE! subfloor was wet…
He called to say, “This needs some time to dry out now.  I bet
Two weeks would do the job just fine.  We’ll finish this thing yet!”


In talking though, I came to learn it was not in the plan
To move the dishwasher from it’s spot. “Oh no, ma’am, I’m your man
To do the floor, but moving that, only a plumber can.”
“But sir, that’s where the problem starts…Please help me understand!”


I plead my case until he saw exactly, surely, why
The epicenter of this mess must have a chance to dry.
So somewhat bending policy his helpers on the sly
Got all the floor from underneath, they gave it their best try.


So they put all the appliances back with all subfloor exposed
Because our newest renters on the next day were supposed
To move in to their new-found lease but couldn’t wash their clothes
For when they got inside they found another leaking hose!


This one from the clothes washer and dripping down the wall
So now we had a new wet spot.  Can you count them all?
This one straight to subfloor and although this one was small,
No amount of tightening would make the leaking stall.

So for two weeks new renters lived on open, ugly floor
To let it finally get aired out from damage months before.
They were out of town the morning that floor man called to implore,
“I’m here to finish up this job, but there’s no key for this door.”


“How can that be?!” I asked nervously to this man who did not care.
“I had a friend hide a key for you since renters were not there!”
Could thieves have seen him? Taken it?  As a joke or as a dare?
I considered how to rekey a house when you are so elsewhere…


It started with a little leak, but now we have a day
Where I’m saying to stranger, “Man, if I only knew a way
To tell you how to break into my house, I’d not delay!”
He said, “I found an open window, if you’re giving the OK…”


I thought, “This job is surely through now…what else could go asunder?”
It seemed as though the thing was cursed. (We’d all begun to wonder.)
But as they left my house they called and said, “It’s no big number…
But you’ll have to have your cabinets raised; your fridge won’t go back under.”


I called a friend and asked, “Could you go by and take a peek
At my poor house?  This job from hell that started with a leak
Will drive me mad if it goes on another wretched week.
I thought it would be done today, and now I’m up a creek.”


My friend, he looked over the floor and said, “It all looks good!
And are you sure this fridge won’t fit? Cuz, sure looks like it should…”
He messed with wheels, and found one stuck, and pushed with all he could.
And even though they said, “It won’t,” it turned out that it would.




So instead of calling cabinet guys, all that’s left is just the saint
Who’ll come over Monday morning to fix the clothes wash hose restraint.
Since this was all so painless and went off without complaint,
The next thing on the docket is some NEW EXTERIOR PAINT!

5 Comment

  1. Jenny Enerth says: Reply

    Oh my!

  2. Eric says: Reply

    Our own Dr. Seuss! So sorry for your stress. What a total and complete mess! Well fear not my friend who’s far away. Upon your return all I have to say. Let’s sit down and talk about NCWLIFE. And share your stories of travel and strife. 🙂

    1. Sarah says: Reply

      Haha! Nice rhyme, Eric! I can’t wait for the chance to do that!

  3. Beth Goodfellow says: Reply

    Ohhhh, woooow! You’ve earned the rental purple heart on this one!

  4. Jenn saugen says: Reply

    Oh my goodness, how awful! What a saga holy moly. You made it sound humorous in your poem but I know it certainly wasn’t funny at all! Good job getting it taken care of.

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