Since having been sick since last week, I've become exhausted and somewhat lethargic in the evenings. I muster enough energy to play with Haley, but beyond that, I can't seem to function at a high enough level to do much else. Last night I made popcorn for my dinner and had a bowl of cereal for dessert. Only because Brent would'nt agree to stop watching the football game and make me some toast and oatmeal. Not because he's a bad husband, mind you, but because he's tired of giving in to my lazy whims. I can't blame him.
I sauntered upstairs to grab myself a second helping of "dessert" and made my way back down to our basement to watch the football game (Oh Brett Favre...honey..hang it up.) and snuggle with my daughter.
Toby, our black cat, had literally placed himself into a pointer position at the foot of the stairs, and was creeping forward in somewhat of an overly-cautious predatory stalk. I stopped and stared in the direction he was "pointing" - in to our basement bathroom.
This bathroom is probably the nicest room in our house. Cobalt blue mosaic tile floors and a decorative sink/cabinet system are all the rave whenever someone gets a tour of our home. They only rave about it because they don't have to clean it. That tile is the dangdest material in the world to keep clean. And the shower leaks, so it has been converted to the hiding place of the litter box. So maybe at one time it seemed to be the nicest room in our home, but no more.
I saw a slow flow of water.
Wait - water? WATER?! Not again. No, no, no, no.... After paying nearly $10,000 to replace and repair our basement from taking in water two springs ago, I cannot survive another episode. Please, God, not again....
I stepped over the stream and looked into the center of our bathroom where the sewer drain is. Or should I say, where the sewer drain runneth over. Brown, silty filth covered our bathroom floor and oozed to every crack and cranny within the bathroom.
"Water! Is it the sewer? In the bathroom!"
The next two minutes involved us chaotically and frantically doing absolutely nothing. What do you do when your sewer line is infiltrating your home, and there's football on tv?! Apparently, you yell at your spouse. So that's what we did.
I grabbed Haley and hauled upstairs, as if the basement were on fire instead of slowly filling with muck. I looked for the card that was once on our fridge for the fantastic plumber who fixed our water heater. No card. Brent moved the card. It was on the fridge for instances just as this. Gone. No card. No recollection of who it was. I yelled down to ask him where the card was. Bad idea.
"VAL! DO NOT TALK TO ME!"
Note to self: When spouse is in survival mode to save your home from being swallowed by sewage overflow, spouse could give two shakes about the location of a plumber's business card, even if they were the one responsible for moving said card.
After Brent sucked up five shop-vac loads of sewage, he remembered we had a cap valve in the floor of our basement on the other side across from the bathroom. With superhuman strength he tipped over the loveseat, removed the cap, and turned the valve. No more flow. Just slow seepage. Thank goodness!
In the meantime I called the first 24-hour-emergency plumber number in the book. No answer. I left a message. I'm still waiting for a return phone call. By this point Brent is done dealing with it. There's nothing more he can do and he is beyond frustrated. He suits up and tells me he's going to shovel the driveway. Not just because it was filled again after he had already snowblowed it, but because he needed to get out of the house.
I called the next plumber. Answer. HELP! "We'll have a plumber call you, ma'am." Within minutes my phone rings - it's the second plumber. He asks me questions and I assure him we have not used water for a couple of hours. "Are you sure? No faucets? Toilets? Washing machines?" I am 100% positive. "Well that sounds like a city main problem. I can try to call the city but we have a hard time getting a hold of them after hours. Sometimes we have to call 911 just to get a hold of them. I'll give you a call back in a few minutes."
"BREEEEEEEEEEEEENT!" I tell him to go to the neighbors and see if they're having sewer problems. He disappears for almost 10 minutes. I thought he may have drowned in their basement.
While he was next door, I had called the number on my City bill. I reached a recording that gave me a number to call in case of emergencies. I dialed that number and was told to call the sewer plant. I called the sewer plant and was told he would get a hold of someone from the streets department.
Brent came back and I asked, "Is their sewer backing up?"
Something was wrong. Brent looked...extremely disheartened.
"Long story short, no." He had learned, however, a few weeks prior our neighbors had to have their sewer line rebuilt. They did a load of laundry and their sewer backed up. The city told them it was their (our neighbors') line, they had to have it rebuilt, and now the cost of that procedure is tacked in to their "specials" which means their house payment just went up to cover a $10,000 expense. Both Brent and I felt like we had just been stabbed in the gut. With a poop-covered knife.
My family is coming in three days to spend the holidays here. Our sewer is backed up, we're going to have to pay a buttload of money to fix it, and Christmas is cancelled.
Brent called his friend to ask if he could shower at their house, since he had to get up early in the morning to donate plasma. I texted my boss to tell him I wasn't sure if or when I would be able to come to work the next day, and texted the babysitter about our new fantastic adventure. I got a call back from the plumber who said he was unable to get a hold of anyone in the City and he really didn't want to have to call 911...I interrupted him to tell him I was way ahead of him and we had someone from the Streets Department on the way.
As Brent was getting ready to leave, we saw a City truck pull up outside and talk to our other neighbor. We gathered they knew each other. We walked outside as the employee began to beat the street with a metal pole, trying to find the manhole cover. Mind you, everything was covered with snow, so it wasn't an easy find. The neighbor dug right where he stood with his snow shovel and said, "Here it is." They pulled the cover off and the employee said, "Oh, that doesn't sound good. Yeah....we have an issue." I looked at him and waited... "This one's on us." he finished.
I started jumping up and down right there in the middle of the street saying, "Praise Jesus!" Our neighbor (who knows me not at all) was a little surprised by my reaction. Brent started laughing. I told the city employee, "I know this isn't how you wanted to spend your night, but thank you so much, and Merry Christmas!"
He told us he had to round up some reinforcements and it would be an hour or so before they could come back out to work on it. He finished by saying, "Don't use any water for a while." He drove off and I skipped back in to the house. Literally, I skipped.
WE DON'T HAVE TO PAY FOR A NEW SEWER! Are you understanding this, people?! This was a simple city fix, and not an expense we have to worry about. Can I get an AMEN!
About 45 minutes later the city trucks arrived and did their magic in our sewer line. Brent got a text from the first neighbor asking us if our toilets were going crazy. Thankfully, since Brent had closed the sewer valve, they weren't.
I later remarked to Brent, if it had to happen, think of the blessed way in which it took place. It happened right as I was coming downstairs and noticed it, it was the city's problem, not ours, and it was contained to the bathroom. I asked, "How long do you think we would have sat and blamed each other for the smell before we realized what was going on?" He laughed.
I love it when my husband laughs.