Sunday, December 25, 2005

My Crappy Christmas Eve….

Well, not ‘eve’ exactly but the day before Christmas anyway.

We had a plumbing ‘event’ on Saturday and not a pleasant one either. As we were going through the morning, there were clothes in the washer, chores being done, a little blogging… some TV watching… all in all things were going pretty well.

I’d slept in until about 8:00am, which is a big deal since I’m normally up between 4:30 and 5:00am with or without the alarm clock. This morning though as I started to rise Maryan said “Go back to bed there’s no need for you to get up.”… I did, and a wonderful extra few of hours of sleep it was.

I should have known on Friday something was wrong. As we were bringing in some groceries I noticed, and remarked on a damp spot…. Both Maryan and I both wondered what had caused it… a little ‘foreshadowing’ in my reality…

Then, as I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth I hear the toilet gurgling… Ominous, as years ago, when we first got this place, that was the sound of a blockage in the sewer lines… but we’d had that taken care of…. A little later, a toilet flush, followed by the always anxiety inducing... rising water level… that threatened, but did not overflow.

I finished getting dressed, went out, checked the “clean out” nearest the house.. and sure enough…. Christmas eve morning (about 11:00am) and I’ve got 200’ of backed up sewer line… Maryan and I talked about it… complained about it… thought of things like a weekend in a hotel, which we assumed would certainly been cheaper than holiday rates for a ‘Roto-rooter’ type service call…

In the end, I decided there was not much of an alternative… so I called a rental place… confirmed they were open and had the dreaded ‘Power Snake’ I’d need. In the course of the transaction the clerk mentioned, in almost a reflective tone, “I don’t think I’ve ever rented one of these on Christmas Eve before…”

I think I mumbled something about never even ‘thinking’ about renting one on Christmas Eve before… Shortly thereafter I was in the ‘yard’ loading the snake into the truck, getting some operating instructions (which were accompanied by some, I’m sure very funny, jokes about a ‘crappy’ Christmas) and heading back home to start my new “Christmas project”.

Let me tell you something about these power augers (Sewer Snakes)… they’re a killer to operate… first you’re not dealing with ‘pool water’, and they’re twisting and turning as you attempt to keep enough pressure on the line so it continues to move forward. The problem is, too much grip and your gloves will catch and begin to twist up in the snake, lose your focus, even for a moment and so will your jacket or any other piece of loose fitting clothing. Don’t make me tell you how I know!

After about an hour of wrestling with this beast, covered in sweat and lord knows what else, I’d run out of ‘snake’, I managed to feed all 100’ foot of it into the line. The good news was that I only had to haul it all back out of the sewer, and put it back in its ‘cage’… the bad news was, the line was still clogged!!

So, I did the next thing on my list, assuming now that I’d run far enough to have reached the ‘main’… which was to call the city sewer department. I also assumed we’d get a polite but disheartening “Closed for the Holiday” message considering it was now well into afternoon. Instead, our call was answered by the police department, who told us they’d get someone over ASAP.

I know what you’re thinking, and so was I, ASAP on Christmas Eve was likely to be Monday. In reality it turned out to be about 45 minutes. Really, in about 45 minutes, the amount of time it took me to pack up the snake and haul it back up the drive way, the truck showed up.

They checked the mains (which were clear), and then, out of the blue, the guy on the truck says, I’m about to give you a Christmas present. He proceeded to fix some sort of nozzle on the truck’s hose and feed it into my cleanout until he reached the clog. His partner turned up the motor and in about 30 seconds we heard an audible ‘pop’ and the sound of rushing water (a good sign at this point!!)…. He didn’t have to do that, in this town, like many others, the city only maintains the main lines. You, as the home owner are responsible for everything between the tap into that main, and your house.

So here we sit, on Christmas day… with clean running drains!! What started out looking like a holiday disaster, ended up being not such a big deal after all… we worked at it, refused to accept defeat and in the end got a favor from a couple of underpaid city employees who were working on Christmas Eve, and from what they’d said had been on the clock for about 20 hours in the past 36.

What started out feeling like a crappy Christmas… ended up with a feeling that there’s Christmas spirit everywhere, even where you least expect it… Maybe it’s because I’d tried to resolve the issue before I called, or the fact that we thanked them for coming out, or offered them coffee, or, maybe, just maybe these were a couple of guys who were thinking what this kind of problem would have done to their Holiday, and wanted to fix ours if they could.

Whatever the reason, it is acts like this that make this season one of my favorite times of the year.

I hope this finds you all well, with fully functional plumbing and a home filled with love and happiness.

Merry Christmas!!


Cylithria™ said...

Merry Christmas Bill and MaryAnn. David tells me your mom has been under the weather. I send my prayers for her as well! Happy new Years!!

Comfort Addict said...


Wow, that was a lot worse than my plumbing problem. In my case, I merely had a sludge clog under the sink (didn't have a snake and wasn't confident enough to rent one because I thought that the problem might be worse than it was). I'm so happy that all went right for you in the end (have you noticed that, when you give the kind of massive effort that you put forth doing this, good things seem to happen?).

Bill said...

Cyli - Thanks, Mom's doing very well, and we've had a great holiday. I hope you and David have a wonderful time as well!

CA - You'll always find the sink clog around a holiday dinner... or at least that's been my experience!! Trust me, we were really happy it all ended well too!!

Yes I do, I think it was Edison who said: "The harder I work, the luckier I seem to get".

Dizzy Ms. Lizzy said...


You have my sympathy - - I have been in this situation before! It wasn't Christmas Eve, but it was the evening before my son and daughter-in-law's wedding reception, at my house! Talk about a panic attack!! Thank goodness our sewer service came as quickly as they did. It cost a pretty penny, but at least my son didn't have a "crappy" reception! :-)

Other than that, I hope your Christmas holiday was a GREAT one for you, MaryAn, and your "fur-kids" (I knew there was something I liked about you - - you're a cat person!)


Bill said...

Liz - We had a great holiday, that cats do love playing in the wrapping paper.

As for me being a 'cat person'... that credit goes to my wife. I'd never had cats until we got together, I'm sold now though... these little guys make me smile every day!!

The sewer thing wasn't really all that bad... more annoying than anything considering how it turned out... but I couldn't resist the blog post! :)

Nic said...

It just goes to show that there are still some decent people around these days! Glad you got the sitch fixed.

Bill said...

Nic Yeah... it definitely was one of those 'faith restoring' moments!! Thanks for stopping by!