Our water got turned off two nights ago. There's construction in the street in front of our building and a notice on our door saying the water would be off from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. In actuality the water was off starting at 5:30 p.m. There are places all over the world where water is scarce, and there have been many times in recent history, even in places where it is not scarce, that natural disasters have shut down water mains for lots of people for extended amounts of time. And that's not even mentioning the years and years of human history where indoor plumbing wasn't a thing at all, even in cities. So the water-shortage suffering that Mitch and I were enduring was neither extreme or terribly unique, but it was also the worst.
There are a couple things I noticed while the water was off. We couldn't do dishes, couldn't take showers. We brushed our teeth using the little bit of water we had in bottles in the fridge. (Well, I did. Somebody just didn't brush his teeth. I'll leave it up to you to figure out who that was.) More pressingly, we couldn't flush the toilet. Not being able to use the bathroom at will gave me an odd panicked feeling. So we went to Norse for the evening, for their beer and facilities.
Side note: we drove there, even though it's close by, because it's been raining furiously in Chicago. When I got in the driver's seat, I discovered that the electric mechanism to move the seat forward had gone out. So I drove to the bar while barely reaching the peddles and feeling like a small child as well as my own version of refugee lite.
Norse was great. I used the bathroom several times.
After we came back home, I kept forgetting that the water was off and casually trying to use different faucets. It's like it skipped my mind that if the faucet in the bathroom wasn't working then neither was the one in the kitchen. I looked at the bottle and a half of water in the fridge reverently. Women in African countries often have to walk miles, unattended, with a high risk of being raped, every day just to get water. I heard an interview on Women's Hour with one of these women; when she was asked what her dream was - if she could have any circumstance what it would be - she said she'd want to work in an office somewhere where her safety wasn't threatened. I, if you remember, have been writhing with anxiety over the possibility of being stuck in a job like that.
That night I had a dream that Mitch pooped in the shower. He yelled at me from the bathroom, "Oh no! The water's not on in the shower, either."
Our water still wasn't on the next morning. I went to work unshowered and without coffee. Mitch drove me to the el stop so I could get rained on less. The whole time I was at work - using the restroom, washing my hands, getting water from the cooler, washing my dishes in the sink - turning on the faucets (with a small movement of my wrist) and having water come out felt wondrous. Concealed metal piping carried bright and clean water unknown (to me) distances to burst out of little spigots - ones that are practically everywhere - on demand.
The novelty of it will soon wear off; it's already started to. But I've come to see some value in our convenience; some value, that is, as long as our water problem stays fixed.