Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Well, of all the things you might wish for from jolly old St. Nick, a sewage back up probably wasn't one of them.
I went to visit my daughter and her family for the holidays. The live in the country and have a septic tank rather than being connected to city water and sewer. I have never fully understood how septic tanks work. I know the basics, things that go down the drains in your house wind up in the septic tank and somehow they work themselves out from there. It is one of those mysterious things in houses that, when working, require no thought and when not, require panic on my part.
While we were in the midst of enjoying all the usual pre-Christmas preparations including planning our Christmas Eve dinner, my daughter decided to do a load of laundry. Upon entering the basement, she noticed a lot of water on the floor. Unfortunately, it wasn't just water. There were, um, other things floating around in the water. Ugh. She came upstairs to announce to her husband that there was a problem in the basement and he proceeded to take a look and try to fix it. I have to say that his value in doing this went up quite a bit in my book. I would have taken one look and called for an air strike. He tried to clean up the mess and determine the cause of the problem and decided he needed to clear the line to the septic tank. Not having a plumbing snake, he went to borrow one from family nearby. Upon his return, snaking of the line commenced, but the problem remained. In the meantime, we were all told under NO circumstances to use the toilets or to run ANY water whatsoever in the house. I began to have thoughts of a worse Christmas than when the Grinch visited Whoville.
About 3:00 PM, it was decided that professional help was needed and we made numerous calls to local plumbing contractors. As you might imagine, these companies were all closed for the holidays. While emergency plumbing service might be readily available in a big city, local plumbers in a rural area apparently don't work on holidays.
I was beginning to think that we would have to find hotel rooms for the long weekend and have Chinese food for dinner a la "A Christmas Story". I had visions of Chinese waiters singing FA RA RA RA RA to us while we ate roast duck. I dashed off a quick note to Santa requesting a plumber for Christmas and included a provision that if he could supply one, I'd forgo all other gifts.
Time was dragging on as only it can when it is Christmas eve and you have a basement full of raw sewage. Repeated calls to plumbers were becoming fruitless when a true Christmas miracle occurred. One of the plumbers called us back to say he would come out. I was ready to sing the Hallelujah Chorus about this time and at 7:00 PM our savior appeared to clear the drain. We proceeded to cook dinner knowing that we would be able to wash up afterwards and joyfully danced around celebrating the vision of a crap-free future.
It took about an hour and half, but finally the wonderful plumber ascended from the basement announcing that he was finished and all was well in septic tank world. We would have idolized him and gazed fondly on him pronouncing him a true man among men, but some how his countenance, covered with suspicious brown speckles all over, was a bit tarnished. My son in law, ever grateful that someone else handled the problem, gladly paid the double time rate charged and in his appreciation gave the plumber a box of chocolates for his troubles on a holiday eve.
Now instead of visions of sugar plums, I had visions of that plumber driving home raiding that box of candy with those brown speckled hands. Ewwww. But he did save Christmas for us and I sent up a little thank you the man upstairs and also the one who drives the sleigh with eight tiny reindeer.
I hope your holiday was truly wonderful and did not involve plumbing disasters of any kind.