A Night To Remember: Christmas Day 2018

It was late in the evening on Christmas Day. The kids had fallen asleep in their beds after a long festive day of gift opening, food, and traveling to our house outside the city of Bottineau. Before retiring for the evening, I had several things that needed to be returned to the furnace room. I went down the long staircase. My right foot landed on the bottom step. Slush. Water. Water absorbed into my sock; water between my toes. Then the smell. It was sewer water.

I instantly realized that I was committed to a more extended evening. So, I allowed my left foot to join in on the slush.

The sewer hadn’t backed up a lot though. Just some minor sewer water in the furnace room – no problem! But what about the bathroom?

Both socks came off. The jeans got rolled up. I went to the bathroom. More sewer water – actually a lot more sewer water. And the smell? Much worse. Stuff – yes, let’s call it stuff – was backed up into the shower drain and on to the floor. Keep in mind; I’m committed at this point.

So, out came the shop-vac. Several gallons vacuumed up.

I should’ve left it at that though. But no! I decided I could be a plumber.

You see, I looked at the shop-vac and realized that it not only could suck, but it could blow. And if it could blow, maybe it could blow enough air to unclog the pipes. In theory, this should work. No, it will work!

So, two small adjustments and the shop-vac was ready. The hose went down into the sewer drain. And to create a necessary tight seal? Yup, the wet socks should do the trick.

Ready? 1, 2, 3. Commence shop-vac-blowing-air-into-sewage-filled-pipes-with- dirty-socks-idea to fix the clogged pipes and save money.

… Wow, I’m an idiot! Wow, that shop-vac can sure blow air! Wow, I did not consider that socks are porous fabric. (Definition of porous: spaces or holes through which liquid or air may pass.)

The ‘stuff’ blew right back into my face. Not just a little, but a lot. Oh, $#%@!

I should’ve known better! Socks are porous! However, the plastic Walmart bag laying by itself in the corner? Not porous but impermeable. If I put the plastic over the top of the socks, I could attain the necessary seal.

Ready? Let’s try this again. 1, 2, 3. Commence shop-vac-blowing-air-into-sewage-filled-pipes-with-dirty-socks-and-Walmart-bag-idea to fix the clogged pipes and save money.

… Now, I once saw the Old Faithful geyser erupt in Yellowstone when I was a kid. However, I never thought that I would see two geysers erupt at the same time – in my own house – with me in between. Yup, I sure created a seal – a tight seal. However, the clogged pipe was not going to yield to my genius shop-vac idea! The clogged pipe held firm. This resulted in the air not pushing water through the pipes to the septic tank but pushing all the sewer water back into the house. Two 4-foot brown colored geysers were coming straight out of the toilet and sink. Straight up! And with ethereal misty air! And stuff? ‘Stuff’ was everywhere!

Now, you would think that the best course of action would be to let go of the Walmart plastic bag, resulting in breaking the seal. However, I remembered very clearly how that went for me last time.

So, I kept the seal and reached through the spraying brown water, to turn the little red nob off on the shop-vac. However, what I didn’t realize was that the red nob was now saturated in the misty brown water.

I didn’t quite realize what was happening at first, but by the time the pain went through my finger, along my arm, and down into my leg, I knew that I was being electrocuted. You see, brown sewer water dripping into a shop-vac makes a great conduit of electricity. Mother of Troy! Wow, I’m an idiot!

The red switch got turned off. The brown geysers returned to their drains. And for me? I just sat there. I quietly sat there – assessing what had just happened; contemplating my life’s choices. Should I tell my wife? 4-foot geysers; electricity; me in the middle; and for what?

You should’ve seen the mess. You should’ve smelled the air. Victory? Nope. Not even close. Complete defeat – actually covered in defeat.

The moral of the story, though? Next time call a professional plumber, especially when a trustworthy plumber is located right across the street.

P.S. Sorry Mom and Dad for waking you up last night, when I came over to shower.

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