The other day my cleaning lady came and told me that the water was going to be turned off for the day on Saturday. She said they were replacing a huge piece of water pipe, and were turning off the water for a several block radius. Her neighborhood was also included. She spent some time that morning helping me fill up buckets of water to use. She reminded me to fill up the bathtub before going to bed Friday night. The water was to be turned off at 4:00 a.m., and turned back on at 9:00 p.m.
True to their word, they turned off the water as planned, but thankfully, we were prepared, and had more than enough water stored. But it still was awkward having to use buckets of water to flush the toilet, and having to dip water from the bathtub to wash our hands. I think the thing I missed the most was being able to wash my hands without any effort. I am a hand washer. I can't stand to have dirty hands, and I also may be just a little bit germ-phobic. Whenever I come home, the first thing I have to do is wash my hands. So having to take a little more effort to do so really made me more grateful when the water was finally turned back on.
I may be just a little paranoid, but there were some moments when I doubted Chinese construction, and wondered if they would indeed be able to turn the water on when planned. I wondered if we would be able to shower for church Sunday morning. We have other people come to our home for church services, and I wondered how we would manage flushing the toilets and washing hands with so many people. I have to admit that I was praying for help to make sure the water was turned on as promised.
My nephew reminded me that my own grandmother didn't have running water in her home for much of her life. In those days, they would take a barrel down to the river and fill it up, then bring it back up home by horse and wagon. Because it was such an effort, my grandmother was very careful to conserve water. My mother often tells about their "Saturday night baths". Grandma would fill up the #3 aluminum tub and start washing the kids that were the cleanest. By the time the last kid was bathed, the water was pretty dirty. I have heard that this type of situation is where the phrase, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water" came from, because the water was so dirty that the baby could get lost! Next my grandmother would take the water and use it to wash down the table and chairs. She would also mop the floor. Then last of all, she would throw the rest of the water out on to the garden. In later years, she ran a line from her washer to the garden so that the water would automatically drain on to the garden. She knew the precious value of water.
So tonight I am especially thankful for running water. It's not potable, but it can be boiled to drink. But I live in a city that is surrounded by water, so water is not scarce. I'm so thankful I don't have to haul my water, and that I can keep myself and my home clean easily with running water.