On a good day I have my morning hustle down to a pat 30 minutes from feet on the floor to keys in the ignition. The Type A in me prepares everything the night before so the not such a morning person, more likely to grunt than talk before coffee me has no idea what is happening until I’m already on the road to my paying gig. It’s a process I hate to interrupt.
Stumble out of bed. Trudge down stairs. Coffee switch ON. This has obviously been filled the night before. I tried doing it in the morning and forgot the coffee part and just had hot water. Yes. I am that kind of morning person. Please spare me that coffee pot with a timer suggestion. Single Girl Mortgage. Mr. Coffee and I met at the Dollar General over a bin of 3 for $1 off brand t-shirts. Five minute shower to begin the awakening process. My paying gig is healthcare, so it’s no time at all to slap on professional pajamas (aka—shapeless medical scrubs) and ensnare my hair into a “you are not getting puke in it when you projectile vomit” ponytail. Less of a stumble back down the stairs. Pour Elixir of Life That Makes All Thing Tolerable gifted by my companion Mr. Coffee and exit stage right.
So, imagine my surprise when I come down to the kitchen to bow to Mr. Coffee’s delicious roasted bounty and be on my way only to be assaulted by a mysterious, persistent EEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRTTTTTTTTTTTTT emanating from somewhere in the bowels of my home. What. The. Expletive. What now Huh House? What fresh tribulation do you have in store?
If I had any caffeine in my system I might have felt a tremor within my own bowels. Or at least let out a distressed gasp. Instead, I merely roll my eyes heavenward and softly sigh. I open the basement door, immediately confirming by the increase in volume that the issue lay somewhere within the cobweb swept depths. I grab the stair handrail…… only to have it clatter to the ground. Oh. Right. That bracket broke and I haven’t had time to fix it yet. Add it up Huh House. Give me your all. I round the corner at the foot of the steps to find this screaming Danger! Danger Will Robinson! at me:
I should panic. Red lights and an ear splitting squall attached to a Big Red Box and all. But thanks to repeated readings of Hitchhiker’s Guide I know not to. DON’T PANIC! is emblazed right on the cover. Good life lessons from Mr. Douglas Adams. If the alarm had a number setting I would try 42. My literary nerd tribe gets it. Instead I flip that handy switch to SILENT and do a 30 second inventory.
This is actually not the first time I’ve heard this particular alarm. It’s about 50% of the reason I do not panic, along with a Hitchhiker’s mentality and a decidedly unfortunate lack of caffeine. For some reason the builders of my house put in an ejector sewer pump to connect my house with the public sewer, though it is not lower than the public system, nor do I live in an area that would necessitate one. The failure of the float mechanism my first summer in the house was the first time I heard the now familiar comment: Huh. I wonder why they did that. But hey! Look at all the fun home owning terms I’ve learned! Ejector pump! Float mechanism!
In that case, much panic did ensue as sewage water spewed through the manhole cover because the mechanism did not recognize it needed to shut off. And no, the smell did not give me nostalgia for summer afternoons riding my bike around the manure pit on my grandfather’s farm. City folk, you are welcome for the olfactory picture of fresh country air. In this case, no fountain of untreated, raw E-coli and other remnants seems poised to erupt. Without the alarm the basement is eerily quiet. Glass half full: a switch in the alarm went bad. Glass half empty: the whole system is scorched toast. Fuck the glass. I usually end up drinking from the bottle anyway. When I can afford the bottle….. I toss the whole thing in the Fuck It Bucket since imminent doom does not seem apparent and go to work. If it is a goner, I’ll have to pay for it somehow. I’m either Super Adulting or Super Denying. Only my 4 pm return will show me which cape I should wear when I call my plumbing company.
At 4 pm I slog to the basement to assess. The red light has gone out. I flip the switch back to alarm mode. Nothing. Huh. You don’t fool me Huh House. I’m still calling. That’s why I pay a membership fee. Remember when Roofer Joe had his head up my crawl space and I posited that if I had to call a plumber too I might have to join Mean Merlot’s Boxed Up Motorcycle Club and venture into trying boxed red wine? Call me Miss Cleo. Actually, Plumber Kevin was here for this not too long ago:
But the cost of that fix was low enough I was able to pay outright. ‘Twas merely a wink across the bar at Mean Merlot. I fear this Roto-Rooter visit is going to earn me a sweaty slow dance in the least. I’m not sure if I’ll be auditioning for Old Lady or going for the patch in. Either way, there’s no doubt we’ll be spending time together.
I explain to the dispatcher on the phone the alarm is currently off but I am concerned it went off in the first place. “We can send someone tomorrow at 9 am.” No. No ma’am. I have a job. Not an office, salary job that I can just call and say I’m taking a half day. It’s a clock-in, people depend on dependability kind of job. Y’all can send someone out now. That’s my Super Adulting cape. It’s blue with yellow lightning bolts. I decide to wash a few dishes while I wait, a little diagnostic test to see if I made the right call being a bit pushy. One plate, 2 glasses, and a handful of spoons in:
Oh, the sweet validation. Oh, the headache inducing screech. Let’s shut that bitch up.
I hope Plumber Kevin is on call this evening. He’s affable, professional and efficient. Married, but whatever. That Penthouse Forum, queue the 70’s porn music, repairman scenario is never really going to happen. A girl can dream.
Right around 5:30 the doorbell bing-bongs. Oh. That’s not Plumber Kevin. Meet Plumber Jim. In my door steps a bit of a burly gentleman, stocky of the kind of build that probably played linebacker in high school. He appears to be around my age but I’m likely basing that on the 90’s goatee he’s sporting. Some men never change the style of their youth and I would put $5 on this being one of them. There is a gentleman at my paying gig rocking a Samson-esque silver power mullet and every time I see him I hear Whitesnake in my head. Plumber Jim is spinning some Smashing Pumpkins Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness all up in my brain.
I take him to my current bane. Guess his first words? Correct. Gold stars all around. His first words are, “Huh. Why did they do that?” This familiar refrain is quickly followed by, “Yep. Whole thing’s probably shot.” Eyebrow. Mine. Raising. Probably Jim?
“Well, it’s not running at all. So, I can try to see if its clogged and replace a part, which may or may not work. That’ll be about $800.”
Eyelid. Mine. Twitching.
“Or, since it’s obviously on its last legs anyway we can just replace it.”
How much Jim?
Twitch. Twitch. Twitch.
So. My choices are one thing that may or may not work. Or take care of it properly for twice the price, especially given that I already tried a half ass fix once with the float mechanism. Twitch. Sigh. Twitch. Straw, I’d like you to meet Camel’s Back.
Well. What’s another $1600? Seriously, who wants underwear with elastic anyway? I hear commando is better for the lady parts.
As soon as I make my decision that I’ll be running guns for Mean Merlot’s MC in no time, Plumber Jim decides to get all chatty with the advice when I ask how long a new pump will last. The short answer is a decade if I take it easy, 6 years if I don’t. Plumber Jim takes this as the time to offer the tidbit that I should try Mexican Toilet Paper. Ummmmmmmmm. I don’t know what that is but I draw two conclusions.
A) It sounds like it’s gross
B) Plumber Jim is totally voting for Trump.
I could be basing revelation B on the fact Plumber Jim reminds me a bit too much of an uncle who watches a whole lot of Fox News. They have the same mannerisms and blustery pattern of speech proclaiming they are right and there’s no point in arguing. Of course, I could also be basing it on the fact it sounds pretty blatantly xenophobic.
Against my better judgment I inquire. Plumber Jim happily informs me it’s when you keep a pail or bag next to the toilet and deposit your used paper there. “Yeah. Just put it in a Ziploc and stick it in there. You can get one of those diaper pails. That’s what I do when I go camping.” But I’m not camping Jim. This is my home, not a deep woods tent. My home that I supply with flushable toilet paper. Because I live in a first world country where we have such things. Most of us. I have the inalienable right to flush.
“Ya know what you really need?”
Oh, I can’t wait for him to tell me. Even though Plumber Jim is wearing a navy work uniform, all I can picture now is overalls and wad of snuff tucked in his cheek. I’m almost waiting for him to spit.
“If they’d done it right, they’d put in a grinder. But now the setup’s all wrong. No way to do it.”
A) Why tell me if I can’t fix it now?
B) A Grinder? Isn’t that the gay hook-up app? Maybe he’s not voting for Trump….
He then informs me he has to go back to the shop for the parts. Sigh. Twitch. I just want to shower off the MRSA at this point. There are things that can wait (see aforementioned busted banister) but a working sewage system is not one of them. Plumber Jim can’t go without a few parting pearls of wisdom.
“Don’t go having any shower parties or doing three loads of wash while I’m gone!”
Not amused James. Not. At. All. Plus, I’m pretty sure a shower party for me would involve a Tinder, not a Grinder…..
An hour later Plumber Jim returns armed with a shiny new sewer pump that costs more than the current Kelley Blue Book value of my 15-year-old car. I spend the next few hours texting friends to vent and joke to alleviate my mounting stress and frustration because I can feel Fred eyeing up a new foundation at the base of my neck. I should have rolled out the yoga mat and namaste’d my way through it but I wasn’t particularly keen on Plumber Jim suddenly having a question and finding my downward dog facing ass in the air.
Plumber Jim finally wraps it up and brings his goatee to my dining room. I hand over my emergency credit card to plug the numbers into his company I-Pad. “Is this the same card as last time?” I can’t stop the guffaw from escaping. Oh no. No James. Last time I was able to use my check card. Unless he wants to see how quickly the Decline icon pops up, we’ll be using this pretty thing that says platinum because I rarely let it see sunlight.
So, Plumber Jim is paid by my friendly wallet loan shark Mr. MasterCard. Now I just owe Mr. MasterCard, which means I see some overtime in my Single Girl Income future. But hey! If I stop on my way home tomorrow and officially patch into Mean Merlot’s Boxed Up MC, I’ll still have $0.09 in my checking account until payday without moving money from my savings. That’s in the black!