We stood next to each other. The water poured into the tarp with a soft rainfall patter that could lull a tired mind into a sound sleep. I looked at the remnants of the snow trickling out of the ceiling. It would have been beautiful, if it weren’t such a stressful situation.
I spoke quietly concerned about how long he had been there.
“How you holding up?” I asked.
“It was rough. I don’t want to be here now.”
“How many hours you going on?”
“I’ve been clocked in for fourteen.”
I sighed sympathetically and nodded. I hadn’t been in the store when the water first came through. “Like a waterfall,” some of the associates told me. Then again, anything even slightly interesting in the store became a fish tale meant only to become larger and larger as the days went by.
“Did it get upstairs too?” I asked anxiously.
“Yes, but not by the posters. All your posters are fine.”
“Oh good. Thank you.”
I turned and made a B line for the stairs anyway. Pushing through the swing doors to the back stock room where the “magic” happened. I practically was sprinting up the steps to make sure more leaks weren’t up there by our paper collateral. I could hardly get a missing item sent to me as it was through our system. If I had to get EVERYTHING replaced I had no idea what I was going to do. I held my breath, and tried not to let any tears of disappointment come before I knew what the situation was.
I saw no other leaks. I looked for about an hour so I was pretty sure. I went down stairs, becoming ever more aware of the scent of mold in the air. “Mildew.” I said aloud as I entered the office. I could feel it in my breathing and considered carrying my inhaler around for the day, just in case. My manager nodded absentmindedly at my word, but I’m not sure she recognized what I had even said. She was exhausted. In all night trying to make sure the buckets didn’t overflow with our maintenance guy and my other manager.
It wasn’t until about 10am that I heard the roofers on the roof. Banging and sealing. Sawing and stomping around. Customers looked up every moment the patter of pounding would stop. Then they would make their way to the back of the Men’s department to take a look at the damage. We kept the lights out over the men’s dress-wear. The last thing we needed was a fire as well as a leak. So there was very little the customers could see. Not that there were many customers to begin with.
When the roofers were finished inspecting the management was made aware of the situation. Apparently there was a seam in the roof that had so much snow melt that it no longer held the weight of what was draining into the storm drain from above. So the incline seam ripped open, and poured all over our floor. None of the merchandise was damaged. Things were fine other than a few ceiling tiles would need replacing and we needed to keep an eye on things while the roofers finished up.
Things were pretty much back to normal by the time I left at 3pm. I was just glad everything was over. I was glad that nothing was damaged. I began to wonder how much longer we were going to stick around in that failing mall. The place was a mess. People hadn’t paid rent for their stores in ages. It was outdated. Poorly managed. The only two stores in the mall that were sticking around and paying were us and an appliance store that had been going strong for a little while, but was suddenly going bankrupt because of how little traffic that side of town was getting. The place was ghostly. It wasn’t going to stick around for much longer. I couldn’t imagine it would.
On the drive home I noticed my check engine light was on. I sighed. It was going to be one of those weeks. At least I had friends coming on the weekend. For that I was thankful. I had something to look forward to.