Part I: Plumbing School

A couple months-ish ago, a series of unfortunate events took place. And not in the Lemony Snicket kind of way. I'm only telling it to you now because I found it so deeply frustrating, I've had to take an extended calming-down period. Let's just get into it.

On a Sunday morning, our toilet got clogged. This had been happening with increasing frequency which later in this retelling I will realize was a red flag. However, at the moment of the clog, I just pulled out the plunger, which I am now more skilled in using than I would like to be, and plunged. But on this day, despite my best efforts, there was no change in the status of the clog. And then I noticed something terrible was happening. 

The toilet was backing up into the bathtub. 

This is as horrifying and shocking as it sounds. Especially at 11am on a Sunday when I thought I was going to lay around doing nothing. At that point I was like "yep, this is bad" so I got right on the internet about it. The internet confirmed that toilets backing up into bathtubs is indeed very bad and could indicate a clog much further down the main plumbing line which, if not addressed, could cause serious damage to the plumbing. So obviously I call my mom, and because she doesn't answer I call my sister who suggests: 

  1. using a snake and
  2. shares a very funny/gross anecdote about when she had to snake a toilet college to empathize and
  3. says maybe I should call dad.

I call my dad who has truly an untapped wealth of knowledge about plumbing and says yes I could try a snake, but if the clog is too far down the plumbing then I'm going to have to call in a real plumber (not just the fake plumber I've basically been turning into). 

So I walk to the hardware store to get a snake. It's now 11:45am on a Sunday and I'm doing the opposite of what I thought I was going to be doing (which was nothing). I get into the hardware store and discover they have a snake, but its for HAIR. In your SINK. So like yeah, thanks but no thanks that's not going to cut it also IS EVERYONE IN THIS CITY JUST CLOGGING TOILETS LEFT AND RIGHT?! HOW IS THIS PRODUCT OUT OF STOCK? I'm walking back home (snakeless, mind you) when my mom returns my missed call, and starts off like she always does "Did I just miss a call from you?" Yes mom you did, that's how you know to call me back. Because your phone is saying "1 missed call from your angelic daughter who desperately needs your help." 

I tell her the saga of the clogging, the plunging, the calls to all immediate family members in the efforts to form a plumbing brain trust, and how I just spent 30 minutes walking to and from the hardware store without A GODDAMN SNAKE. And then my mom asks a question you all might be wondering right now: why haven't I called my landlord? 

I had not called my landlord because technically I don't really have one. I have a property management company. And a property management company is a business. And a business operates during, you know, business hours aka Monday through Friday, 8 to 5. In fact, I did visit their website to see if their was an emergency number. It told me that "if there is a maintenance emergency, please call our offices from Monday-Friday, 8am to 5pm". UHHHHH, OBVIOUSLY I'M NOT GOING TO HAVE AN EMERGENCY FROM 8 TO 5PM BECAUSE I'M AT MY PLACE OF WORK. So that is why I could not call my landlord and that is why I had taken matters into my own hands. Because our toilet was unusable and I obviously was going to need to make use of it before 8am the next morning when I returned to work. It's now 12:15pm.

So my mom says to just call a plumber because I don't want to waste the whole day running around looking for a pipe snake and then what if that doesn't work and then what if I can't find any plumber to come help me at some ungodly hour on a Sunday. She's right. I call a plumber. I am told from the operator that he will arrive in 1.5 hours. I stop drinking any liquids. I have never been more acutely aware of how often I pee in a single day and let me tell you it is normally A LOT more than what I peed that day. 

The plumber comes. He charges me $90 to tell me that it's going to cost $375 for him to TAKE OFF my toilet in order to solve what he has deemed to be a serious problem (yes, thank you I'm aware). I send him away without solving the problem because I have a hunch that my property management company would not reimburse me for such an expense since they have their own maintenance staff. At this point, I update my family plumbing consortium about the state of my bathroom, and then I pack an overnight bag to go stay at my pal/coworker Alexandra's house. I set my alarm for 7:30am so I can call my property management company straight away at 8am on the way to work. They obviously do not answer the phone at 8am because I'm sure they are all just getting back into the office from the holiday break and do not realize I HAVE AN URGENT PLUMBING MATTER AT HAND.

Serendipitously, Alexandra and I drive past the property management company on our way to office. I say in passing, "oh look there's their office" and Alexandra pulls over and says "uh...hello you should go in" and I look at her like that is the most absurd thing in the world. Because sometimes I am a bozo. So I walk into the office and explain the situation and am immediately assured that someone would be at my apartment "right away". I am only partially reassured since the entire place is full of the schmooziest schmooze-bags who will say anything to seem like they're on your side and then actually do the exact opposite thing.

At 4pm that afternoon, I call my roommate who has been working from home to see if anyone has come by. She reports that zero maintenance people have been to our apartment. ALL DAY. So obviously I call the property management office again and the receptionist tells me that the maintenance man said he'll either be there tonight or perhaps tomorrow morning. And while I politely insist he come tonight, in my head I'm saying something along the lines of "NO WAY GIRLFRIEND, DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT I'M TELLING YOU?! The toilet is BROKEN. I cannot STAY AT MY OWN HOME." She puts me on hold, calls the maintenance man, and says he will be there within the hour. 

Concerned that they are still lying to me, I leave work early to meet this maintenance man at my apartment and make sure that he actually fixes it and doesn't just leave a post-it note saying "Be back tomorrow :)" on my toilet and call it a night. Because at this point, I wouldn't put it past them. 

I arrive home to find a man in a construction vest in my tub, snaking the bath drain. He doesn't have a lot to say about the matter but it's clear things are not going well. I tell him to let me know if he needs help (?) or a beverage (?!) or a snack (?!?!) and retreat to my bedroom to pretend to do work on my computer while actually just straining my ears to try and decipher what action is going to be taken. Then, three more handy men come into the apartment lugging some piece of heavy equipment that looks somewhat like a cross between a tiny cement mixer and those floor buffing machines. Also I only caught a glimpse of it as they lugged it past my open bedroom door so honestly I could be lying a lot. Now I understand that they have brought the big guns. I hear grumbling and some clanging and then shortly thereafter I hear a totally normal not at all gurgle-y toilet flush. The toilet has been fixed. They didn't even need to use the mini cement mixer they tell me (as they lug it back past my bedroom and down the two flights of stairs). All four handy men leave the apartment. I am at peace. Me and my functioning bathroom. This is what I thought was the end of the saga. It was not. 

And now you've already spent like 20 minutes reading this so you deserve a break. Part 2 is forthcoming in a matter of days.