By Hannah Reich Berman
There are some things I just can’t figure out. At one time or another, everyone has questions he would like an answer to—sometimes referred to as the mysteries of life. Children are not the only ones with questions; adults have them as well, and the subject matter can be about everything and anything. I’m as inquisitive as the next guy, but most of the time I have zero interest in the next guy’s questions or the answers to them.
Some people want to know how many species live on or in the human body. Does beheading hurt? Why are pineapples spiny? Why does lemon juice stop apples from turning brown? Does wearing black really make one’s backside appear smaller? Whoa! Stop! I wouldn’t mind learning the answer to that last one!
But right now I have a bigger question. I would love to know why my car was of more value than the contents of my home. Apparently it is. As a result of the flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy, I lost my gas burner, which was all of six months old. Also gone were my water heater, washing machine, dryer, freezer, circuit-breaker panel, and central air conditioning something or other—I can’t recall whether it was called a circulator or a blower. What I do recall very clearly is the electrician telling me that the cost of replacing it is high. Come March or April, I will be shelling out $5,400 for a new one.
There is no point in enumerating the smaller items that were also lost in the four feet, four inches of floodwater that burst into my basement and blew off the door along with the doorframe. The list of what was once usable and then became garbage is a long one, and there is no way that I can remember everything that was down there. I paid a crew to toss everything out, since I didn’t want to keep anything that had been sitting in that much salt water. With the passage of time, I am discovering what is missing.
Just last week I made two such discoveries. When I went downstairs to search for the rolls of Chanukah wrapping paper that were stored there, I remembered that they were no more! The very next day, after promising to give a Mah-Jongg set to someone, an extra set that I had acquired as a gift, I went down to get it. I opened the basement door, walked down seven steps, and stopped dead in my tracks. A quick glance reminded me once again about my small losses. That lovely new, unused set is history. Everything that had been in that basement is history. Even the basement itself is history, because now that the paneling, sheetrock, studs behind the paneling, and floor tiles have been removed, it is no longer a basement. From force of habit, I still refer to it as such, but in reality it is now a cement cellar.
I’m just stating the facts but not complaining, because others lost so much more. Friends of mine, people I genuinely care about, are suffering because their living space was flooded and their furnishings destroyed. It hurts me just to think about it. And, from what I can tell, it appears that the complaint department is closed.
A complaint it is not, but a surprise it is! Like thousands of others, I lost my car. The night that it happened I heard horns beeping, so I looked out the window and what I saw made me think I was in a science-fiction movie. My car, along with several others that were parked in the street, took on a life of its own. (Hubby would have said a life of her own, since he always referred to cars in the female gender.) Not only were the car horns beeping, the inside car lights were flashing on and off, and (get this) trunks were opening and shutting and hoods too were going up and down. It continued for several minutes. I am not making this up. I could not make it up. Please understand that there were no occupants in any of these cars! At one point, I wasn’t sure if I was more afraid of the rising water and the eels and snakes that were in it, or of the bizarre behavior of the vehicles!
But none of the above, not the flooding itself nor the weird activity of the cars, is what mystifies me; what does mystify me is why I received more compensation for my nine-year-old automobile than I did for the losses in my home. Both my homeowner’s policy and my automobile policy are with the same insurance company. The way I see it, the company stiffed me on one and gave me a gift on the other! I was even compensated for money that I never got to spend on a car rental. I didn’t spend it because there were no cars to be had by the time I got to the rental agency. The adjuster decided that I was entitled to get that money too. So I didn’t have flood insurance! So what? That doesn’t answer the question for me. How is it that the contents of my basement, many of which were necessities of life such as heat, hot water, and electricity, were not covered because I didn’t have flood insurance but the car is? Did I have flood insurance on my car? Not that I knew of!
From my perspective, this is not a question that needs to be answered. I don’t care what the reason is that I got so little for one and so much more than I expected for the other. If Hubby were here he would have tried patiently to explain it to me and then, sensing by the look on my face that he wasn’t getting through to me, he would have said, “Forget about it, Hannah.” Apparently there are some things I am not meant to understand. While it isn’t an especially earth-shattering matter, it is a conundrum—one that, for me, will simply remain just another of life’s mysteries! That’s the way it is. v
Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and is a licensed real-estate broker associated with Marjorie Hausman Realty. She can be reached at Savtahannah@aol.com or 516-902-3733.