The Great Christmas Eve Plumbing Crisis – and My House is Out to Get Me
Tell me this is not some message from the post industrial, high tech, new age, housing complex cosmos or the true spirit of Christmas…
First there was the hole in the back yard. A biggish hole that swallowed plants and paving after heavy rain. It subsequently got bigger in a kind of hole feeding frenzy until a good quarter of the back yard was no longer actually yard, but more like pool.
Then the washing machine carked. On a full load of course. Without draining.
That was easier to fix than the hole. Except when the new one delivered it couldn’t be installed because of a stuck tap issue. The tap issue turned out to be not such an issue so full washing services were restored.
And then the side fence fell over. Not just a paling at a time, a whole wave of it toppled into my driveway showing me parts of my neighbour’s house I’d never intended seeing. It’s still lying there, because it’s a fence and like a hole it’s not so quick to fix and requires available experts.
Then the electricity demonstrated a haunting ability to fail – always at night. When you needed it to like, see things. But it was intermittent. I never quite knew when I would have lights and when I wouldn’t.
I consulted a landscaper about the sinkhole in the yard, a plumber about the tap, a fencer about the fence and an electrician about the electricity. He said, “Mmm, I don’t know what that is. Can you live with it?”
I thought, ‘Mmm, I’m going to need to consult a different electrician,’ and worked out I could in fact live with it and a torch application on my phone. Showering romantically by the light of my handset did not get old for at least a week.
And then the power stopped failing. Like it had never begun.
And then the Great Plumbing Disaster of Christmas 2013 struck. The hot water tap would not turn off. This necessitated a late night search for: a bucket, a wrench, an allen key, a dressing gown cord. It also meant a midnight flit to the yard to find the mains taps to turn off the water and the hot water generator. It was no surprise to find the main tap was stuck and without belting it with something heavy and waking half the neighbourhood it couldn’t be shifted.
The bucket and the dressing gown cord tied around the drip saved the whole thing being a racket no one could sleep through. Plus it looked kind of festive, in a wet way.
So on Christmas Eve I have buggered plumbing. I’m hoping it’s something simple like a washer. Dad arrives with tools. But not the right ones. The tap will not come undone. I’ve seen this before—third time lucky.
I go rouse a neighbour who has a big shed and a good tool collection. He brings two other neighbours and a trolley load of tools. Soon there are four men in my bathroom. It’s not four man size. Both cats join in to supervise.
All of the men are off work because of the Christmas Eve thing. None of them are plumbers. None of them it turns out have any intention of leaving my bathroom except to troop through the house to turn taps and hot water services on and off copious amounts of time.
After a while it becomes apparent that my plumbing crisis is a godsend. They’re all avoiding things like fixing Christmas lights and going food and last minute present shopping. They love my plumbing crisis.
A man sits in my bath. Another has his shirt off and is standing in the shower with an enormous dinosaur of a wrench last used to repair a train. No joke, it was. He assures me it will be all right. And he shouldn’t need to break any tiles.
There is talk of shifters and it’s nothing paranormal. Also seats. And I don’t think they’re talking about either pants or places to sit.
A cat’s tail gets trodden on. There is yowling. But no one human or animal leaves the bathroom.
I no longer have hot water, though that was never the problem, but rather an unintended consequence. Like hey, you know that rag you’re using to wipe black grease all over the white tiles, that’s my pjs.
A wife shows up enquiring after her husband. Another brings Christmas cake. There are a lot of people in my house. Everyone is impressed when it turns out I own my own can of WD40. Go me!
We achieve a fix, but then Houston we have a problem, no hot water pressure and a new leak. There is talk of an air lock and it seems fitting, if a little space age.
This is the most exciting thing that has happened in the street, (if you don’t count the time a strange man put his hand through my bedroom widow one night and I yelled at him and let’s not), since, well Christmas.
It’s too much for one of the cats. She goes to sleep in someone’s bag of tools. Not sure how that can be comfortable. I’m getting a headache and someone suggests there should be beer. It’s not even lunchtime.
There is talk of starting over. I can’t work out if this is a supermarket avoidance strategy or a real thing. The new leak however is real, though the hot water is back.
They start over. Another man arrives. He’s not a neighbour, someone’s friend, a plumber. He says he was on the way to the fish markets. He inspects, has some cake, there is joke telling. He wants to know what kind of cat is happy to sit in a puddle of water. He approves the works and leaves. That was a free house call. I regret not checking if he knew anything about mysterious electrical shorts.
The works start again. Someone’s kids play ball in my driveway around and over the fallen fence. They talk to their dad through the bathroom window. I warn them not to go near the sinkhole. I’m supposed to be working but that’s not happening. I take a migraine tablet and survey the grease. I’m given a part to clean. A girl’s job. At least I have Gumption, but it’s not as impressive as the WD40.
And then the Great Plumbing Crisis of Christmas 2013 is over. Everyone is going home. They don’t even want to wait for a cup of tea. All I needed was a $2 part, five men, a floor full of tools, two supervising cats, a consulting plumber, ninety minutes, WD40 and Gumption.
Someone says supermarket. My Dad says, “I’ve had enough. I told your mother I’d only be gone half an hour.” I’m suddenly alone with a lot of grease, pjs I’ll never wear again and oddly short hair clippings in the sink. I can’t see how they relate to plumbing. Did someone shave while they were at it in there and how did I miss that?
But it’s Christmas Eve and I don’t have to last through the festive season with buggered plumbing and someone donated the $2 part.
My house is still out to get me. I don’t trust it one bit, because the flap on the letterbox just came off in my hand, but who said there were no Christmas miracles anymore?