I have been tearing the Old Hotel apart lately. In the process, while following an electrical wire that seems to travel as aimlessly my wife drives, I found it necessary to remove the above varmint from its home on the barroom wall. I immediately began setting it up in various poorly lit corners of the house to spook my family when they stumble upon it. It has been quite rewarding aside from my youngest stumping his toe when he was scared off his feet. I may have to set it up on my neighbor’s doorstep at some point.
The Old Hotel is about a hundred years old. Many changes have been made over the years when the various owners decided things ought to be different than they were. A new light here, a toilet there, a new floor in the kitchen and so on. Change is great and occasionally required but what is not great is when you leave all the things that were there before and just add decade after decade to it.
I have been working in the kitchen. It was last renovated oh about fifty years ago at a guess, so I decided just to gut it entirely and clean things up properly. I ripped out two inches of flooring and still the floor is two inches thick. (Pause here for one minute while I replace a bulb in my desk lamp.) All done. Now, where was I? Oh yes, I was talking about plumbing. No? Pay closer attention. The original pipes in the building were cast iron, brass, and copper. Over the years various parts have been replaced so now it switches from old to new about six times on the way down. This, of course, is problematic.
We had lived in the house for about two weeks when the upstairs plumbing stopped draining. I had previously worked as a plumber’s assistant for a few months, so I was not much troubled by this development. I just went downstairs and began removing ceiling tile till I found the offending pipes. I quickly and accurately deduced where the obstruction most likely caught and started undoing what needed undoing.
What I was unaware of was the fact that in one of the bathrooms above me a shower stall had accumulated several inches of water that now, compelled by the wondrous force we commonly call gravity, anxiously awaited an exit. I am no fool. Well, perhaps I am, but in this case, I was aware that there could be a certain amount of mess expected. I held up a large pail to catch the revolting discharge as I gingerly undid the clamps. Not a drop. The clamps were loosed and free. I slid a coupling collar between old and new plumbing back and still nothing. I heard a door open and looked up to see my son walk in. The sewage poured down upon me while the pail swung uselessly at my side. I was covered and covered again. I learned something that night. I learned that my son is capable of remarkable restraint. Had it been me in his shoes I would have been rolling on the sewer soaked carpet laughing.
The worst part was the fact that I had to clean it up while still covered in sewage because a body can’t just take a shower while sewage is flowing around in the house. If humiliation created humility I would be a humble man indeed.