Remember hearing about the disastrous Jan. 24 water-pipe incident at Johnson and Hardwick residence halls? That happened in my dorm room.
Some residents might have freaked out and froze. Others might’ve screamed at the top of their lungs. I simply continue to sip on my Capri Sun and cuss.
Throughout the whole ordeal, even now, that’s the attitude I continue to carry, in spite of the little help given to me by the university.
At approximately 11:47 a.m. on that day, I was about to go to my sociology class when suddenly and inexplicably, the hot water pipe in my room exploded and emitted hot water and steam throughout the room, ruining my roommate’s – freshman psychology major Zach Marcin – and my belongings.
Realizing the raging water wasn’t stopping anytime soon, I rushed down to the Johnson and Hardwick residence hall management desk to tell them about my emergency. By the time I ran back up to my second floor room, the water had poured out of my abode, down the hall and into the next room.
I immediately came to the conclusion I didn’t care in the slightest and stood in the puddle that used to be a hallway for a few minutes more. I then cautiously opened the door to assess the disaster.
Moments later, enough steam billowed out to set off the fire alarm. I fought through the haze to grab my laptop and almost tripped because of the amount of water I was kicking up.
I decided I wasn’t going to leave the building, and waited until some very friendly and helpful maintenance workers came up. And there were a lot of them – Main Campus police, Philadelphia police and regular maintenance guys. Everyone except firefighters.
By this point, I had called my roommate out of class and we were taken to Resident Director Megan Connelly’s office.
After an hour or so, management shut off the hot water and allowed us to go back into the room to move our dripping belongings to the lounge area. That was when the bleak glee turned into utter sadness.
To put it positively, everything in the room was well-hydrated. Posters stuck to the wall; cords on the floor had short-circuited. I walked over to my beloved 10-year-old Nintendo 64, pulled out the “Super Smash Bros.” game and watched in horror as water dripped from it.
My eyes wandered to my guitar, an instrument I played roughly two hours a day: steamed clean for sure but internally screwed. It was nothing compared to my roommate’s chest of rare hardcore punk vinyl albums, most of which were claimed by the water and humidity.
A curious thing happened that kept me in high spirits – almost every maintenance worker pulled us aside and roughly said the same thing: “You gotta get that money, son. I was cleaning up in there, and I saw that you had three iPads. And I know your boy had at least five Xboxes, no less.”
Their unintended sense of humor allowed me to regain some of mine, as we moved everything out of the room until it looked as if no one had ever lived there, save for a stick of deodorant and an official Charlie Brown Christmas tree, which we had planned to keep up all year.
Over a stretch of two weeks, I have learned the meaning of the clichéd phrase “a rollercoaster of emotions.” If the heat had been turned on at all, then the water pipe would not have frozen and subsequently exploded two feet away from me.
While every individual along the way has offered their hands to help, the university itself has not done a thing, especially in light of the fact that pipes have exploded in residence halls multiple times across Main Campus in the past couple of years, my former residence director said.
The only thing that was given to my roommate or myself was a form for us to fill and send to the company that deals with Temple’s insurance, but compensation is not guaranteed. It takes two to four weeks to hear back on whether or not we’ll get even half of the worth of the stuff we lost.
The two of us are currently holed up in the 1940 residence hall. I can’t check to see if my N64 games work because of a lack of a working TV and system, and who knows if the vinyl records still work.
Constantly telling and re-telling the story has softened me to the phrase, “Dude, that sucks!” considerably. I offer this warning when living in residence halls: always expect the unexpected.
Kevin Stairiker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.