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World Wide Depression & My Bathroom Drains

  • Tuesday Nov 1,2011 05:47 AM
  • By Cusper Lynn
  • In Cigars

Image by: the|G|™

World Wide Depression & My Bathroom Drains


Cusper Lynn

                Recently my bathroom drains have become a talking point with my fiancée.  For those of you familiar with my life, my writing and my world view, it will surprise you that I have either a bathroom or a fiancée.   At the time that my last novel went off to the editors and I began traveling I was considering life in a yurt.   In the alternative I was going to build an earthbag home or some form of micro-housing that would meet my needs.  Having divested of most of my worldly belongings this plan of action seemed entirely feasible.   That is, until I acquired a girlfriend.

It would seem that such forms of habitation are not consistent with relationships and certainly not marriage.  The events that led up to this particular change in my life I am writing about in another novel.   But, whether rational or irrational, I am in love and as such find myself once again, having to confront the challenges of domestic housing arrangements and home maintenance.

Like the world, which is currently locked in a seemingly deathlike spiral with an economic depression, I had squared off against the bathroom drains in a similarly intractable conflict.  What started as a “slow” bathroom sink drain, quickly moved to a “blocked” drain after we moved into our home.  Our home, a former “Zombie house” – zombie, meaning that it was left in the limbo land of foreclosure and ownership by  a series of paperwork problems and bank failures – is now owned by an investment group.  So, you might suggest I turn the problem over to the owners, or “Landlords” to address.  This I would gladly do.  But, as our lease is at an outrageously low price and includes an option to buy – at an equally ridiculously low price – we are responsible for all “internal” maintenance issues.

So I plunged forward, quite literally, to solve the problem of the bathroom drain.   The plunger offering no relief, I turned to my local hardware store.  There I was provided a magical elixir that would, or so I was promised, in a matter of minutes clear the offending blockage.   At this point, pouring this liquid – as directed – into the standing water I saw relief to be at hand.   In some ways, I expect this was how congress felt when it passed the first bailout package.    I came back and checked in fifteen minutes.  Nothing had happened.   I came back in half an hour, nothing had happened.  I returned in an hour and there was a slight receding for the water.   I decided to give it until the next morning.

When I awoke the next morning there was no water in the sink.  There was instead a dark, slimy, sludge like material covering the inside of the sink.   I wiped clean the sink.  Rinsed it and found, I once again had water standing in my sink.   I returned to the hardware store.   Again I was advised that I should consider the use of another elixir, this one being more powerful than the last.  I was dubious, but desperate.   I bought it, brought it home and applied it as directed.   Now this stuff did the business!  There were fumes, there were bubbles, there were multihued eruptions of debris and the water dropped several inches.   Then it stopped.

Having, like Congress, doubled down on useless action, I became more certain that I could solve it by doing more of the same.  I asked among friends about drain cleaners.   Theories varied widely on the most effective chemical treatment. Several friends cautioned against “mixing solutions” and suggested getting a professional in to address the problem.   Others said I had “done too little, too late” and need to use “a larger and stronger solution.”

This later argument had a number of attractions. Not the least of which was that it reinforced the idea that I had been doing the right thing all along, I just wasn’t doing enough of it.   So when one of the advocates for this solution directed me to a “Special” store that carried “Industrial Grade” solutions, I was certain that I was on to a winner.

After I procured this double packaged container that required special gloves and a face shield to apply I was given the following friendly advice.

“Cusper, you won’t be able to use that in the bathroom sink direct.   I am telling you that the plug is down the line.  Put about six ounces down the vent line.  It will burn all that crap out in one go!  Oh, and add water.”

This advice was inspired.  Me, climbing a ladder, with a highly corrosive chemical and pouring it down the vent line of the bathroom plumbing.   Nothing bad could possibly happen.

Some post-mortem notes on that last experiment.   The enterprise itself, pouring a strong acid down a vent line, occurred without any bodily injury. The addition of water down the vent line gave a wonderful plume of gas and possibly smoke that suggested industrious activity.

Having safely negotiated the climb back down the ladder I rushed to the bathroom. I found the sink was draining and all appeared to be right with the world for about three hours.

My fiancée and I have had a heart felt conversation on the subject of false economies, sunk cost effect, and the cost of the plumber.  The events that led to this were a trip my fiancée made to our bathroom.   Having received every assurance that the drain was once again working she used the bathroom, used the toilet, flushed, and found both the tub drain and the sink drain erupting in bubbling black and brown liquid that covered the bottom of the tub and left six inches of dreck in the sink.  A few other details of these events my fiancée has recounted to me in vivid detail, included the smell (something between rotting eggs and sewage), a new leak that appeared at the base of the toilet, and a strange bit of hair attached to something black-gray, shaped like a lentil  bobbing up and down in the sink.

As I sifted through the dissolving towels that were stacked beneath the sink and became soaked in a combination of sludge and sulfuric acid, the plumber sidled up to me in the good natured manner that only a man bearing a large bill can.

“Quite the mess you got here,” he said chuckling.

“Yes, it is,” I answered as I piled more dissolving towels into the contractor grade garbage bags -the towels having melted through the regular ones.

“You had a blockage in the mainline,” the plumber informed me.

“Really,” I continued, in active disinterest of the information received.

“That drain cleaner must have been one heck of a strong one,” he said, with what I perceived to be an appreciate note in his voice.

“Suppose it was,” I mumbled, seeing the bill in his hand.

“Well I can tell you it burnt through about thirty years of crap,” he grinned.

“And?” I asked expectantly.

“Well that was the thing,” he answered earnestly, “You get that much building up, and crap in the system, and you try to clear it…well, it’s only going to jam up some more.   Got to snake the crap out all the way down the line.   Otherwise you just get chunk , clots, and crap.”

“Good to know,” I said, in a dejected tone.

“Don’t feel too bad, shouldn’t have any problems with it for the next thirty years or so,” he said handing me the bill.

“Good news,” I answered, having long since decided I couldn’t wait to leave this house.

“Oh, and that thing that was floating in the sink that upset the missus,” he said, in a conversational tone.

“Yes?” I asked, seeing the number on the bill and not wanting to prolong this conversation.

“Well I didn’t want to upset her, so I didn’t mention to her what it was,” he said in a hushed voice.

“Really?  Not a thirty year old clump of hair, shaving dregs, and toothpaste?” I asked, guessing this to be exactly what it was.

“No, that bit she saw was part of a rat…  think it was part of his head and an eye,” the plumber smiled.

“ Um…” I was nonplused by this information.

“Rest of him came out in chunks as we snaked the drain out.  May have come down the vent pipe, but I expect he ran up the line when they were doing some work in the area,” the plumber said philosophically, “Have they done any work around here lately?”

I thought about this for a moment.  “The county was out running a new line for our neighbors a few weeks back.”

“That’ll be it.   Water was off, drain trap dried out, and the little beggar climbed up the line.”

“Drowned?” I speculated.

“Maybe,” the plumber said.  “But I expect he got the crap burned out of him a few times and ended up in the jam.”

“Oh,” I said, and looked at the bill again.

“Don’t worry about the bill,” he said, patting my shoulder.

“Really?” I asked.

“Yes.  Sally at the main office already billed your credit card so you won’t need to do another thing,” he smiled and left.

So, there you are.  Decades of crap blocking up the pipes, a rat gets in because of government activity, and every solution applied only made matters worse.   Then, when everything reached an absolute crisis, a great deal of property was already damaged or destroyed, a real solution was applied, was extremely expensive, and I got stuck with the horrendous bill.

If you want to understand the world economic crisis, just ask my plumber, he sees it every day.

Text Copyright 2011 Cusper Lynn   

Text Copyright 2011 Hellbent Press

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