Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Great Plumbing Disaster of 2009

Alrighty. I know everyone is dying to hear about our sewage issues, so I shall get to it. To add an air of mystique to the proceedings, I will refrain from specifying exactly who was responsible for what in the lead up to the incident.

Several weeks ago, our apartment management company left notices on all apartment doors, asking people to stop flushing diapers, paper towels, and other unsuitable objects. Presumably, there had been some sort of incident in the building to spark this communication. Regardless, one half of our duo read the notice, and left it on the kitchen table absentmindedly. The other half of our duo probably glared at the offending piece of clutter, but did not actually read it.

The very next morning, the unschooled member of our household flushed multiple paper towels down the toilet after a bout of cleaning. And then threw some extra sheets in there for good measure, without flushing. Afterwards, the properly read but still sleepy partner went to use the facilities for their intended purpose, and critically, did not first check to make sure that the white papery stuff floating at the bottom would flush.

End result? Clogged toilet, of course. No problem, both of us thought. We’ll just go buy a plunger, and all will be well. Fifteen dollars* and trip to Target later, things were not exactly well. The Pit took at turn at the plunging, and while there was a certain, erm, dislodging of the, err, clogging materials, the toilet remained undrained. So I decided to take a turn. Given the circumstances (and the smell), I feel that I displayed a great deal of enthusiasm for the task, and worked the plunger quite energetically under The Pit’s critical eye. Unfortunately, all that happened was a great deal more clouding of the water in the bowl, and some amount of splashing. Although I maintain that splashing was unavoidable under the circumstances, The Pit was displeased with my performance, and took the plunger back.

As he attempted to plunge for the second time, something horrifying happened. Our toilet did not get unclogged…but, well, how shall I put this delicately…materials neither of us had deposited started to appear. Yes, somehow, The Pit’s efforts were causing foreign matter (presumably originating from our neighbors) to appear in our toilet, and yet the damn thing was still clogged. In fact, it was now more clogged than ever.

It was at this point that The Pit evaluated the situation, and made what I feel was a truly heroic decision. He cleared the space around the toilet, stripped off most of his clothes, shooed me out of the bathroom, closed the door, and threw himself into the breach (metaphorically speaking). For the next thirty minutes, I heard occasional horrified exclamations, a good deal of gagging, and an amount of swearing, that was, all things considered, pretty minimal.

Toward the end of that time, the door opened, and The Pit, white-faced, asked me to bring him a garbage bag, the bleach cleaner, and another roll of paper towels. The toilet was functional again, but there was a certain amount of…collateral mess. Once I delivered the goods, the door was then firmly closed in my face while he cleaned everything up and showered…oh, let’s just say quite thoroughly.

When he emerged, the bathroom looked spotless, but there was clearly some mental scarring that was going to take days to erase. He asked me to clean the bathroom again, just to be on the safe side, and then, periodically and completely at random, would turn toward me and make gagging noises for the rest of the week.

And people, what can I say? A man willing to take one like that for the team? Well, that’s clearly husband material right there.

* I know! For a plunger!


  1. This might very well be the most disgusting story about unplugging a toilet that I've read all day. Brava!

  2. Definitely husband material! Most of us take the work of the plumber for granted, but they actually have one of the most stressful and time-unpleasant jobs in town. It could get dangerous too, as they also have to deal with raw sewage and toxic chemicals.

  3. That was so sweet of your husband, Mary. He had a lot going on but he never complained, and to think that sopping a flooded floor isn’t a walk in the park at all. Your hubby saved you quite a few bucks for not calling a plumber in installing the new taps for the sink. It pays to invest in basic plumbing tools and knowledge.

  4. Whew! He's such a brave man! That's a very difficult task! He probably thought that if it wasn’t done right away, he, and most especially you guys, would have a hard time using the toilet. Salute to your husband!

    Darryl Iorio