Apr 9, 2012

The Curse of the Traveling Hubby

by Kristin Baker Przybyla

We have a little joke about what happens when my husband goes out of town. Something always breaks, but it's not the usual little things that are easy to deal with, like a plate or a toe. It's always some kind of emergency I can rarely handle on my own.

A few things that have gone wrong while the hubby's been off in faraway lands:
  • The dishwasher gasped its last (and is still broken, now being used as a big bread box).
  • The washing machine pooped out, then locked its door and refused to give me access to the soaking clothes within.
  • A close family member unexpectedly passed away.
  • My laptop and my husband's desk PC both fried on the same day.
  • The heater broke in the dead of winter.
  • My vacuum blew up, literally: pieces of plastic and hardware flew across the room and hit the wall hard enough to leave dents.
  • The car broke down.
  • Either a kid or a pet needed emergency medical treatment.
  • Our bank account always gets locked by either a hotel or a car rental company, making it impossible for me to buy anything. This time it's the car rental. I don't know when I'll be able to go to the store and I'm furious.
So when my husband and 13-year-old daughter left on Saturday for a week-long karate event in Texas, it was with no small amount of trepidation that I waved goodbye, wondering what was next on the list of Things to Kick the Bucket When the Husband's Not There to Keep an Eye on Stuff. I said a little prayer for the safety of my traveling family members, and also for the continued operational status of our material possessions.

I had a nice, if rather lonely, Easter, with the rest of the kids yesterday, and by nightfall I decided to stop neglecting the dishes and laundry. I started up the washing machine, then turned on the faucet to rinse some grease out of a pan. A minute later, I noticed it was just cold water coming out of the tap. I asked my 11-year-old to run the bath and see if that got any hot water. Nope. With a sinking feeling in my stomach, I went out into the garage to have a peek at the water heater.

A small waterfall was pouring from the bottom of the heater and making its way down the messy garage floor through our boxes of stuff. Not having a clue what the difference was between the gas line and the water pipes, I ran back inside and left a few panicky pleas for help on Facebook, then texted and called my husband and daughter about 50 times. No answer.

If Rule #1 when my husband goes out of town is Something Big Always Breaks, Rule #2 is You Can't Get Ahold of the Hubby to Save Your Life. I did, however, get lots of good advice from Facebook friends which I'm very grateful for, and my awesome local friends Kim and Andrew sped right over to help me turn off the water heater and drain it. (Sorry for my messy house and garage, guys!)

Eventually my daughter did text me back: She'd tell Daddy about the water heater after he got out of the shower. I grumbled something about hot showers being a luxury he'd better appreciate while he still could. Now I'm boiling water for the dishes, and trying to calculate how many pots I'll have to boil in order to partially fill up a lukewarm bath. It'll be a week before he gets back, and after that I'm not sure how long until we'll be able to afford a new water heater! But I'm handling this in stride; we're living like the pioneers (pioneers with an electric stove to boil water in, knock on wood), and it could still be worse. Knock on wood again.

Besides, I can rest happy knowing this is the last time something huge ever breaks while I'm on my own, because as soon as my husband gets home, I'm chaining him to the house and never letting him go out of town again!


  1. OH Kristin, how I feel your pain! I'm so sorry. Not having hot water is soooo annoying. It is one of the few modern conveniences I would be extremely reluctant to do without. (been there, btw.)

    Our family seems to have a lot in common. Every time my hubby leaves town, someone gets hurt/breaks bones/needs stitches, etc. And...the car breaks down or birds fly out of the fireplace, or....

    hang in there!

  2. You had birds flying out your fireplace?? What on earth is this, it's like when the hubbies leave it triggers the apocalypse. LOL

  3. I had surgery on my foot while my husband was out of town. I didn't think this would be a big deal. I had it scheduled for a month and his trip came up suddenly. I had my, then, almost teenaged son with me for support. What could go wrong?

    While my foot still numb, I stopped by the bank on my way home from the doctor's office (he did the surgery in his special in-office surgical suite) and told my son to stay in the car. I kept the car running so he'd have the necessary air conditioning to ward away the 100+ degree heat of southern Arizona. Before I could come back outside, my dear son came inside to see what was taking me so long.

    I gasped out, "What are you doing in here?"

    Adam said, "Don't worry, I locked the car doors."

    He'd left the car running--and we were locked out--and the only other person with the keys was my husband--and the numbness in my foot was giving way to the pain.

    Yeah, things like that happen when my husband goes out of town, too.

  4. Ok your story beats my story hands down. Nothing that bad has ever even happened to me. But hey now I know where to go to get answers.

  5. Ow, Debra. As a frequent sufferer of foot injuries (and one who often locks her keys in the car), I can totally relate!

    Day 3 with no water heater: I'm starting to lose it! We're still figuring out how to wash ourselves - boiling water for a bath, taking super-fast cold showers, etc. And I found out yesterday that my washing machine won't work without being able to draw water out of the heater. So the washing machine might as well be broken too! We're been hand-washing our clothes. :(

  6. "We're been." LOL Obviously I need to go to bed!


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