|Hey, mister; did you really buy this house? Yes. Yes I did. I think it was formerly owned by Hitler’s pool man.|
Let’s stop waxing philosophical and get down to brass tacks. Poopy brass tacks. My plumbing was installed by Helen Keller and maintained for a century by the Shirk Brothers. My house was inhabited for a goodly portion of its long history by stoners, drunks, and pyromaniacs. Wondering what was flushed down that toilet over the years could turn me to drink, medical marijuana, and arson, now that I consider it. But I don’t have time for any of that. A geyser of excrement must be dealt with in the here and now.
I didn’t care exactly what the problem was. That might sound dumb, but only if you’re never been in a leaky boat. First, you bail. Then you plug the hole. Thirdly, after the morning ration of grog and cheese the next day, you wonder where the hole came from. It was ten at night on a Sunday, we were already really tired from our HVAC exertions, and the only thing to do was stop the bleeding.
You’ll have to trust me when I tell you I know more about a sewer line than the average person. If you’re the average person, I’d like to take this opportunity to finally shake your hand. I’ve heard so much about you over the years. Then I’d like to caution you to wash your hand with bleach because I’ve been mucking about in sewage systems.
I’ve broken into dozens and dozens of sewer lines, and repaired them. That’s because I’ve built or renovated a lot of structures out there in the real world. Structures that the average person just drives past or poops in without another thought. I’ve inspected many more than I’ve actually mucked about in, too. Take a piddle in the closed end of Gillette Stadium? Do more than rest at a Rest Area on half the Mass Pike? Flush a moist towelette down the john in the ladies room of the gas station at the Belvidere Oasis outside Chicago? Pour paint down the sink in the gingerbread house in Fairhaven, or flush an adult diaper down the crapper at the senior center in Bellingham, Mass? Scoot into the Martha’s Vineyard Post Office to throw up last night’s clam bellies and appletinis after the ferry ride? Yeah, I know where that goes. Believe you me, you don’t want to know.
I looked over the loo lagoon that had coalesced in my basement’s basement, and I had to make some quick decisions. What’s necessary in such situations is to think critically. Critical Thinking is now an official subject in college, high school, and in some grammar schools. That’s why no one knows how to do it anymore. Rearranging your prejudices to conform to the topic at hand might get you an “A” in school, but it won’t stop a geyser of excrement in the basement.
You have to know real facts to think critically. Critical thinking is choosing between competing factual facts, not introducing unfactual things as an alternative to reality. On top of that, many facts are true, but extraneous. You decide which to ignore and which to pay attention to. Every-other program on television is a lamebrain version of Sherlock Holmes, but the viewers never get any impression from the archetype other than acting like an imperious jerk is proof you’re smarter than everyone else. Acting like an imperious jerk in a ditch where sewage is spoken will get you a bouquet of fingers applied to your nose. Put a sock in it, college boy.
So here’s what we know that tells us how to behave:
- A sewer pipe is tested when installed with very low air or water pressure, but it’s never supposed to have any pressure in it after that
- A geyser of goo means it’s under pressure
- We have town sewer. Pressure from a town sewer would be cataclysmic
- The pressure is coming from the house, not into the house, or the problem would appear upstairs, too. There was no geyser of excrement coming from the toilet. Thank goodness for small favors
- You’ve been told that lo-flow toilets, miserly sink faucets, and water-rationing showerheads will cut your water usage bigtime. They won’t
- In the same vein, your toilet went from having 5 gallons of water to 3 to 1.5 or something now. Whoopty
- Your clothes washer dumps between 30 and 50 gallons of water down the drain
- Our clothes washer was currently running
- A gallon of water weighs about 7 pounds
- Fifty gallons of water weighs about 350 pounds
- Tree-fitty pounds of pressure in a pipe that’s not supposed to have any pressure can result in deleterious effects on your plan to move excrement outside your house expeditiously
- Turn off the clothes washer, dear
- Geyser goes to sleep for the night
OK, so we’ve stopped the bleeding. Now we have to cauterize the wound. We’ve got a sheared off plastic knuckle glued in a rusty cast iron knuckle jammed into another cast iron knuckle that’s buried in a concrete floor. At 10 at night on Sunday in the middle of nowhere. What to do?
[to be continued]