Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This Post Stinks

On Monday, while Casey and I were at swim team practice, Grandma was at the house alone with Mace when an alarm started going off. A really loud alarm. The alarm was sounding from her side of the house, so at first she assumed her alarm clock had taken steroids and was alarming for no good reason. She went into her bedroom, pushed the button on the alarm clock that would normally stop the infernal beeping, but to no avail. Still convinced that the clock had to be the source of the gazillion decibel honking, she unplugged the clock. Nada.

While she was in her room, covering her ears with her hands, she decided that the alarm was coming from outside, but definitely on her side of the house. She tried calling me, but I'd left my cell phone in the car. She tried calling Joe, but he didn't answer either. So she decided to head outside and find the alarm. When she got outside and walked around the house she saw a silver box with a red flashing light stuck to the side of the house. She had no idea what the alarm was for and was immediately panicked by the thought that the HVAC units were about to blow up -- obviously there was imminent danger to life and property at hand and the alarm must be warning her to remove children and pets from the home before the whole place blew. It is a really really loud alarm. The box has a hand print on it, inside of which is written: "Push here once to stop Alarm. Push twice to test alarm." But Grandma did not want to "push here" because she was afraid she might get electrocuted (which is proof that Grandma has lived with us long enough to know that danger lurks everywhere at Casa Flamingo -- to date, she has severely injured her shoulder after slipping on non-stick cooking spray that Casey sprayed on the floor by the front door, broken her hip by tripping in her garage, and knocked herself unconscious on a boat trailer hitch -- you can't blame her if she's a little skittish about touching flashing alarm boxes).

So she went back inside and found our contractor, Jamie's, phone number, assuming that since he remodeled our entire house, he would know what the alarm was. He happened to be passing close by on his way home and because he is also a great friend of ours, stopped by our house to help Grandma. He found the alarm box, touched the hand print to stop the alarm, assured Grandma she was not going to be electrocuted and/or blown up, and left.

When I got home shortly after Jamie left, the red light was still blinking on the box, but otherwise, everything was quiet. I called the company that installed our septic system and drain field and was informed that in all likelihood our pump had stopped working. He said he could send someone out that night, but I didn't want to pay the premium price for middle of the night service, so I asked the guy on the phone if he thought we'd be okay until morning. He said so long as we didn't flush, take showers, or wash clothes or dishes, we'd be fine.

I don't know about you, but as soon as someone tells me I'm not allowed to flush, or limits my access to the bathroom in any way, I need to go immediately. And for as long as my access to the toilet is limited, I will need to go every time I think about how my access is limited. This explains why a two hour car trip can turn into a three and a half hour car trip with me along and also why I have to sit in the aisle seat on the airplane. So I went, but didn't flush, probably 10 times between the time we had to stop using water last night until the guys came and fixed our problem early this morning. Grandma and the boys apparently had the same problem. By the time the truck appeared yesterday morning, all the toilets in the house were a little, um, over ripe.

>Mace had a great time watching the septic technicians (seriously, I think that's what they're called and you should know that I am mightily resisting the temptation to launch into a lengthy list of potential occupational titles for people who suck poop out of tanks for a living). As soon as the truck drove up, he stood by the porch rail watching the whole process --

-- from the digging to the sucking to the work stoppage that occurred when the head septic technician came to tell me that it was going to cost $1000 to empty the tank (turns out you should pump out your septic every 3 to 4 years, not every 5 to 6 years), replace the pump and install a new power outlet. The technician grew tired of me standing in front of him with my mouth open and a blank stare on my face, so he left to get some parts he was missing and empty his truck (our tanks were really really full), but did make sure he installed the new pump first so that we could use the water again.

It is painful to spend $1000 on septic system maintenance and repairs because all you have to show for it are toilets that you can flush. And while flushing toilets are a wonderful thing indeed, I still feel a little bit robbed until I consider that if I had to get splattered all day every day with other people's poo, I would charge a heck of a lot too.

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