I’ve been hearing things.
I was on the couch watching an old film and a sound like an oncoming train rumbled through the walls of my home. It was a vibrating sound, and it seemed to come from everywhere at once. It sent Blinker streaking to her safe space beneath the bed.
I reluctantly turned off Bette Davis and went into the basement. By this time, the noise had stopped, but I examined the furnace, the water heater, and the main water lines. There was nothing out of the ordinary to my inexpert eye.
I went back upstairs and finished the film.
Over the next few weeks, I heard the sound again and again. It wasn’t always the same—sometimes it was the vibrating, other times it was a hiss and click, and other times it sounded like water rushing through the walls.
Each time I’d run around trying to figure out exactly where it was coming from to no avail. It didn’t always seem to emanate from the same spot—sometimes I would swear it was coming from under the sink, other times from a heating vent.
I could find no pattern in when the noise would begin—it happened with the furnace on and off, the air conditioner on and off. It happened when I’d recently flushed the toilet, or in the middle of the night when I hadn’t used the water for hours.
I wasn’t sure if it originated with the heating, cooling, or plumbing.
I had no idea what to do.
So, I did nothing.
Weeks stretched into months. The sound would come and go as it pleased, and became so regular that Blinker would barely even lift her head from her nap when it began.
Who to call? A plumber? Heating and cooling?
I just kept ignoring the problem and waiting for it to resolve itself.
And then, an unexpected plot twist.
(If you’re thinking a pipe exploded and I woke up to a basement full of water, you’re wrong. That would be completely expected after ignoring an obvious problem for months.)
Instead, like my very own Greek tragedy, a deux ex machine arrived in the nick of time.
I got a letter. Snail mail.
It was my local municipal authority, telling me the meter man had visited. It seems that since the last outdoor meter reading, the meter had not moved at all. Either I had not used a drop of water in three months, or there was a problem with the meter. The letter instructed me to call and schedule a time for the meter man to examine the meter inside the house.
A week later the meter man arrived.
“Definitely broken. Needs completely changed,” he said.
“Could a broken meter make noise?”
“Like a train rumbling through?”
He was obviously the strong silent type, so I left him alone to replace the inside and outside meter.
It took him less than an hour and there was no charge to me.
I haven’t heard the noise in twenty-four hours. Could it really be the simple?
The lesson I’m taking away from this experience is that when you have a problem you don’t know how to solve, you should ignore it until some unforeseen outside force presents the solution.
Can it really be this simple?