It never fails. Whenever you’re the most vulnerable, fate somehow finds a way to kick you in the pants. As the saying goes, if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. Consider:
It was a dark and stormy Friday night. Well, not so much stormy as cold. Temps were in the mid-twenties as a gusty north wind blew across the plain. The young grandson was here. Good kid, great kid, but he has this maddening tendency to overload the commode with excessive toilet paper. When I heard an ominous gurgle from the bathtub drain, I knew it had happened again. A near overflow from the stool confirmed it. No dish washing, no flushing, and no showers. The forecast was for severe cold and snow. Plumbers charge more for Saturday calls than six months worth of Social Security checks. It was time for action.
With one arm in a sling from shoulder surgery, I was among the handicapped. (Yet, not one medical person had offered me a blue mirror tag for the best parking spots.) Under normal conditions (for a two-armed guy) the solution is to open a clean-out vent just outside the house, stick a hose down in it, apply water, problem solved. Not this time.
With the Missus holding the flashlight, I shoved the hose in even further than usual, the thinking being I could push the blockage on out and into the tank. Wrong! I encountered zero resistance (uh oh), but when I went to retrieve the hose, it hung up. No amount of tugging would work it loose. I could visualize the knot in the far end, tangled and jammed against the discharge pipe, covered in you know what.
Luckily I had marked the access opening to the septic tank with a stick and the dirt was easy to dig. At least that’s what the Missus was saying as she laid the shovel to it. She said some other things as well but they will not be repeated here.
I had some disposable hospital gloves and I put them on to work with the tangle. The sights and smells were as nasty as nasty gets but the kink was quickly taken care of and removal was a snap from that point. There was just one problem; the clog was toward the house, not the tank. I was still unflushable. I had a plunger, one with a small pipe size opening and a bellows, and I used my one good arm and slightly overweight body to deliver some pressure per square inch to the plumbing. With a great whoosh, the pipe cleared while I did the quick step to avoid the overflow.
As I looked at the aftermath; a pile of dirt, the stained hose, my obscenely gross gloves, I suddenly had this insanely wicked idea. I would walk directly to the bedroom where young grandson was languidly watching Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory ( I swear it’s true) and draw up a few diagrams on his clean white belly explaining the science of water, mass, and volume.
But I’d had enough trauma for one night and opted for the shower instead. Some things are better thought of than done.