I stood there, in the near blackness of the cave, in three inches of water. The sump pump was next to my boots with the electric cord visible through the murky water. I had only been in the cave once before and had not yet become of fan of them. The standing water was caused by a heavy July rainstorm just the night before. I had no idea we’d find this much on the ground. But, just in case I had asked our land manager where I would find the sump pump. He thought it would be by the door. Instead, here it was already submerged in the water on the ground.
“Is it plugged in?” I shouted to my companions, two elderly gentlemen, I had just met.
They were at the top of the staircase, at the entrance to the cave where the electric box and outlet was attached to the wall just inside the door.
“Yes!” one of them shouted back.
“Well, I’m not sure I should touch it,” I said, tentatively, referring to the sump pump.
I was weighing my odds of getting an electric shock against my duty to drain the cave of any standing water. We had come to inspect the cave and start getting it ready for summer tours, two tours of our own from the Conservancy and two for the Natural Resources Foundation, led by DNR bat biologists and researchers. We couldn’t do anything with water laying across the path. The surrounding darkness impeded me from seeing anything further down the path in the cave. Who knew how much more water we would encounter? But we were there to find out, so we had to do something!
“Should I try to turn it on? Where would the switch be? I don’t want to get shocked!” I said out loud, but not really to my volunteers.
Not waiting for answers, I shouted, “Can you unplug it at the top? I’ll look for the switch after you do that.”
Since I wasn’t at the top of the stairs myself, I had to trust them to unplug the pump. I found the switch, which wasn’t labelled of course, and flipped it.
“Okay, plug it back in.” I shouted up the staircase into the darkness.
“We did,” they said in unison.
Ugh! Nothing happened! I was starting to feel this was more than I bargained for when I took the job of Outreach and Education Program Manager at the Conservancy! I know plants and pollinators not the possibility of getting shocked in a subterranean bat hibernation habitat. Still, I can be stubborn and tenacious when needed. After all, we had driven over an hour into the rolling hills of Southwestern Wisconsin to reach the cave, a fairly new acquisition by the Conservancy. If we left, we’d only have to come back at some point in the near future. I didn’t really have time to goof around with this.
In all honesty, I don’t remember asking them to unplug the pump again, but I do remember flipping the switch the other way and having the pump start.
No shock, no sparks, no electric voltage running through my body as I stood in several inches of murky water. The pump was running. I picked it up by the handle and repositioned it.
Now, we just had to let the pump do its job of removing the water.
Now, we had to wait.
That was okay. I was still alive. I can wait as long as I need to now!
Today is day 17/31 for the Slice of Life Story Challenge. This daily writing challenge is hosted by TwoWritingTeachers.org. Thanks go to them for creating such a supportive writing community and hosting this challenge each year.