Sunday, June 10, 2007

55 Gallons of Water per Minute

I am happy to report that my dad did not commit suicide. I suppose I should be more concerned that he has been charged with felony criminal damage, but he is alive, and he is under 24 hour supervision.

I finally got through to my brother Eric while on my lunch hour today. He'd checked on my dad: no one there; the cat spooked; wet floor; the place in chaos. He didn't need to wait long to learn, my dad made the headlines.

Sheboygan man accused of setting off fire sprinkler
Appleton Post Crescent, June 9, 2007

Man arrested for allegedly dismantling fire sprinkler
Sheboygan Press, June 8, 2007

Charges Filed in Apartment Flooding
Sheboygan Press, June 9, 2007

A 65-year-old Sheboygan man was charged Friday for allegedly dismantling a fire sprinkler head in his apartment Thursday night, releasing more than 1,000 gallons of water and causing thousands of dollars in damage to an apartment complex at 916 Huron Ave.

W**** H******, 9** H**** Ave., was charged in Sheboygan County Circuit Court with felony criminal damage to property and a misdemeanor charge of interference with firefighting equipment.

According to the criminal complaint:

Shortly after 10:30 p.m., Sheboygan police received a 911 call from J*** R******, another apartment resident, who said the fire pump next to her apartment was going off.

Six apartments, two storage rooms, a boiler room and a fire pump room on the first three floors were damaged by the
sprinkler system, which releases 55 gallons of water per minute. It took police and fire personnel about 20 minutes to determine where the water was coming from and to turn it off.

Officer Trisha Miller said H****** told her, "I set the sprinkler off. I wanted to have some fun."

H****** used a screwdriver to tamper with the fire sprinkler.

If convicted, he faces up to 27 months in prison.

My brother thinks Dad will be put in the psych ward at the hospital. The police won't let Eric see my dad probably at least a week, "due to his mental state." Actually when I spoke to him my dad did let slip something about breaking the head of the sprinkler, but I didn't know what he was talking about. He was saying something about things they did when they were in the service, that they did things like that.

Thinking back, I think perhaps this episode was triggered by bureaucracy. A while back Dad's brother gave him some money, $5,000 I think he said. He was worried about what he should do with it. He thought about getting his teeth fixed. The money was more of a burden than not having it, he told me. You see, someone on social security disability is not allowed to have more than $2,000. What the hell is $2,000? People on disability are not allowed to have an emergency fund. I told a friend that I thought this could have triggered the psychotic downturn, and she related a similar problem for someone in her life. A grandparent gave the person a CD, the family wasn't aware of the money, and the person on disability lost the funds for 5 months. This friend told me they are advised to spend gift money. Buy a car, buy anything, do anything to get rid of the money. Poor man's version of Brewster's Millions.

Eric told me he'd gotten harsh with Dad about the money, and he feels bad about that now. He'd asked, "What about your daughter, your son?" Eric pays $1,000 every 3 months to cover medical insurance for his family. He said Dad said something about not being able to give it away. Hey, let's make sure sick people can't get money that helps them survive! Let's make the rules byzantine and scary, and don't allow them to save money! What a recipe for chaos. Money worries make normal people sick. How many mentally ill people like my dad are tipped over into a bad state of mind thanks to well-meant gifts?

So here he was, meds changed back in December, money that felt like a monkey on his back, money that triggered a loss of welfare, facing bills and the tasks of getting back on disability, what could he do? I begin to realize somewhere in his schizophrenic-addled brain he found the thing that could solve his problems. He was afraid to go outside. Arrest would take the choice out of his hands. The pressure of reinstating his disability payments would also be taken out of his hands, once in custody. He would also have a place to stay. The burden of stuff would be swept away in a flood and a release. The burden of keeping himself alive would be in someone else's hands. I hope opening the release valve helped in some way. Perhaps his biggest worry was his cat Henry. My brother will be checking on the cat every other day.

At one point in my conversation with him on Thursday, my dad said, "I'm thinking about having some fun."
I shot back, "Why not?"
He let loose a wicked little chortle.
Er. "As long as you don't harm others."
He said, "Well that's the thing. There's a possibility it could."
I think that's when I reminded him to take care of his cat. Take care of himself. We love him. I like the cards he sends me. (Sometimes so bad they're good.)

I wish I could talk to him now. Of course that probably would be harder to make happen than my brother getting in to see him before next Saturday. I'm thinking about poor ginger cat Henry in that wet apartment. No lap to sleep on, plenty of places to hide but no reason to purr. I'm willing to bet Dad is worried about his Henry right now.

henry the cat

3 comments:

JeannieGrrl said...

Thank god he's OK but wow, what a spitfire old man. The govt. f**cks many of us an some nasty ways. I've been there, am now mostly.

JeannieGrrl said...

I came today to tell you that Jizo is beautiful. Thank you.

Adrienne Parker said...

Heidi, I'm glad you dad is alive. I have a schizophrenic son and I know this stuff can be stressful. Blessings.