And a Crappy New Year

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

"Having that pool skimmer in there really complicates things."

The plumber was bewildered, and he hadn’t yet discovered the paint roller extension pole.

It had been 24 hours since I noticed a puddle in the basement. The source of the leak was unwelcome, but repairable, according to my husband because a trickle from the sewage cleanout pipe was nothing a plunger couldn’t fix.

The plan was to remove the cap, eliminate whatever obstacle might be impeding the flow to the septic tank, replace the lid and carry on.

A gentle twist was all it took. From there, it was like watching a WWII submarine movie with saltwater gushing through breached pipes, drenching the actors struggling to shut valves with nothing more than wrenches and dangerously good looks.
Only, instead of seawater, it was sewage and my husband, though handsome, was no match for it.

He managed to replace the cap, thus ending the torrent of water, toilet paper and well, you know, until - approximately three seconds later – it happened again.

His demand was direct.


It was the first week of the New Year and a family resolution had seen us purge clothing, toys and bullet journals in an effort to embrace minimalism, and by that I mean we had shoved our belongings in storage bins and stowed them in the cellar.

I tossed stuffed animals onto the floor while my mother hurled turtlenecks and miniskirts across the room. Together we threw towels onto the sludge while my daughter ran the Shop Vac and my husband placed bins beneath the constant stream of yuck gushing out of the wall.

It was a family bonding experience unlike any other.

Once the stream subsided, we called a plumber with news of our clogged pipe. But with a day to wait, we decided to take matters into our own hands.

We didn’t have a drain snake, but we did have a pool skimmer, a paint roller rod and a roll of duct tape all of which disappeared into the darkness of the pipe immediately, leaving our stinky crew waiting for help to arrive the next morning.

Two plumbers, a backhoe operator and an unwitting tow truck driver informed us our scheme was ill planned, leading us to believe they had never encountered creative genius before.

They also told us our septic tank had to be pumped.

Days later, all that remained were disorganized piles of junk waiting to be stowed in new storage bins.

There was nothing minimal about it, but at the end of the day we decided it didn’t matter because honestly, what good is a basement if it doesn’t hold your crap?

No, really.