Over the last week, we’ve been in the midst of something… challenging. Our lovely home which is quite old (built in 1883) has been rebelling. We had family in town for the weekend which more than doubled the occupants of our Queen Anne style home. Sadly our sewer system was not up to the challenge. Shortly after the departure of our family, Julie says “do you smell something?” We had just come back into the house from the front porch. Our home is two floors plus an unfinished basement, the latter isn’t exactly a place you want to spend any more time then it takes to put clothes in the wash or move them to the dryer.
We made our way to the back of the house where the stairs to the basement are located. Down we go. We follow our noses into the laundry room, which happens to tie into the utility room where a sewer line penetrates the concrete slab and travels under the house to the main sewer line in the street. Between these two rooms, there is a gap of maybe an inch and a half between two concrete slabs. Gurgling up between these two slabs is the most putrid substance I’ve had the displeasure of detecting with my not overly sensitive nose. Raw sewage.
I spend the next hour cleaning up the mess, bleaching, and otherwise trying to return the basement to working order. Monday I shall call the plumber.
Monday sees the plumber come to our house. They try in vain to snake the line 3 different times, each time the snake gets stuck and they just barely are able to recover it. Let inform me that we’ll most likely need to have the sewer line to the street replaced. Great.
We deal with a non-functioning sewer system(limping by) for the next couple days as the earliest they can start work is Thursday. Thursday arrives and so do the jackhammers as they begin to break up the concrete floor in the basement exposing the long since broken clay pipe. At this point we need to be out of the house as we have no functioning drainage system, so we check ourselves into a local hotel. We’re told that they are going to try to have us functional by the end of the day Friday. Friday comes and goes, no working plumbing. The issue is that the sewer line they had thought ran under the basement and out from under the front of the house to the street actually runs out the side of the house, under the very substantial driveway and then turns and runs right down the middle of the driveway.
At this point, they decide it’s easier and therefore cheaper to cut straight across the driveway and connect to the sewer line running down the middle of the side street. Sorry neighbors for the closed road!
We spend the weekend in the hotel and try to make the best of it. Cramming our lives into one room while work pauses for the weekend.
Work resumes Monday morning with the driveway severed from the garage and a trench carved into the yard leading to the street which also now has a swath of asphalt taken from it.
By this time they’re able to give us one “working” bathroom. I won’t go into all the gory details but we’re using the term working here pretty loosely. The second bathroom is out of commision the kitchen sink and dishwasher are questionable as is the clothes washer. And, lest we forget the house still smells like a weird mixture of dirt, musty basement, and, you guessed it… poo.
As it stands a week and a half after work started we’re still not fixed. We hope to have work complete middle of the week. Still to be done is the plumbing in the house, pouring the concrete back to fix our driveway and then pouring the concrete to fill the holes in our basement.
The Final Flush
I’ve had time to ponder our situation over the last few days, the frustration of it all. The Inconvenience. The smell. The cost. However, in the midst of all this, I’m reminded of how very fortunate we are. If not for the love and support of our family and friends I don’t know where we would be in all of this. Just when we think we can’t deal with one more thing you tap into that hidden reserve of energy to help you move forward. When you’re at your limit and have had a terrible day, that one well-placed poo joke gives you a laugh and changes the trajectory of your attitude. Most importantly our faith in the Lord keeps it all in perspective. I know that as we hold fast and persevere we build endurance and strength that we’ll most assuredly need for the next trial. There hasn’t been a hard day that’s been able to stop us yet. I encourage you to stop and take a moment to consider all the things that you’ve endured and overcome. What did you learn from those times? How did it prepare you for the things you encountered in the future? We may not be able to foresee the next plumbing disaster, but we can control our attitudes and that counts for a lot.