7 things the water crisis taught me
Now that we’re safely sipping from the tap, it’s time to look back at our water apocalypse. A crisis can teach a person a lot, about limits, and about a will to survive. Here’s what I learned.
We have plenty of water so don’t know what it’s like to conserve it. I remember adapting to 1minute showers when I lived in drout prone California, where watering your lawn could be a legal offense.
In a nutshell, we are water spoiled.
Despite raw nerves, we never became Mad Max, thundering across the desert in search of water and fuel. Yes, the boil order was inconvenient, but it was not debilitating.
Besides, it’s our own fault. 5o years ago, we could drink right out of the rivers on a camping trip. Things are turning around. Yes, the once toxic Charles River is getting cleaner every year, but it’s a long road back. And we have no one to blame but ourselves.
I watched one woman triumphantly unload $150 worth of bottled water, as if her family’s survival was now ensured. She had gathered her troops and directed them to retrieve bottled water in a stunning display of speed, strategy and power. They were eyed with envy and disgust and I began to worry about their safety.
Meanwhile, a nervous person asked me if she should buy bottled water for her dog. I reminded her of the joy she gets watching her dog jump into the lake each summer to play fetch. I told her that I jump into lakes to play fetch. I’ve had abundant lake water up my nose and down my throat thanks to some spectacular water skiing fails. I’m ok. The dog is ok. We’re all ok.
At 5 p.m., the shop closed its doors, when management decided it was too costly to pay a staff not churning out coffee hits. As we wrapped up our coffee-less chat, outsiders pressed their noses against the glass, knocking forlornly. Others banged on the door more emphatically, like Benjamin in the wedding scene from “The Graduate.’’ They would get a firm no, and a shake of the head that would send them away dejected.
People crossed the Charles River to retrieve coffee from Cambridge.
They walked across the bridges with their spoils. Some raged against The Republic, as if it had somehow stolen Boston’s resources and should be invaded in retaliation. Suddenly, I viewed Cambridge as an unfortunate Baltic Republic with an angry, hungry Boston, bearing down like old Russia in a relentless push for a warm water port. Yes, history can repeat itself.
At least those people walked. I heard of others who got in their cars and aimlessly drove and drove until they found a safe Dunkin’s.
People tried other fixes. The staff at one restaurant hopped themselves up on Red Bull. Others went for full-caffeine soda. I saw one man, in an act of self-loathing, buying six-packs of Fanta, when nothing else was available. He figured the sugar would give him a jolt.
Janet Wu is a reporter with 7News.