Hidden Talents: The Stinkening

by Richard

This is one of those hidden talents that probably should have stayed, well, hidden.

As I said yesterday, I recently found out that I can do household repairs slightly more complicated than changing out a light bulb, which will be of great comfort to those family members for whom I’ve already done what I laughingly call repairs. Oops. Oh, well. I can make the repairs to the repairs now.

What accounts for this new-found competence? No idea. Maybe I’ve just been touched Ouchdarnit!where’sthebandaids?, the god of household repairs. Whatever. It means I’ve been fixing things.

Even when I shouldn’t. Take, for instance, hidden talent #2: What’s that smell?

This problem hit all at once. I was busy shoveling the remains of a particularly bad dinner down the garbage disposal when the silly thing backed up on me. I tried the usual remedies. I shoved my hand down there and cleaned it out — just after I remembered to actually turn it off and wait for the blades to stop spinning. I tried to plunge it clear and managed to shoot disgusting water/food slush out the other sink and all over the kitchen floor. I even used Drano on the thing. (I know, I know. What can I say? I was desperate.) Nothing worked.

It was time to get nasty.

I cleaned everything out from the cabinets under the sink and brought out my 5-gallon bucket. I put the bucket under the u-bend in the pipes down there and started loosening pipe. Eventually I did manage to get the u-bend off and water flooded into the bucket. Remember when I said it was a 5-gallon bucket? Yeah, well, turned out there was 5.2 gallons of water and gunk in the pipes. Yeah.

After I cleaned up that mess, I got down to business. I started shoving things through the u-bend pipe, looking to dislodge whatever was in there blocking the water. Nothing. I cleaned a little more pipe that would had been attached to the u-bend. Still nothing. So I put all the pipe back together and tried the disposal.

Speaking of nothing. . . It still didn’t work. I sighed and got back to work loosening pipes. After cleaning up from the water that spilled out when I forgot to put the 5-gallon bucket down again, I decided to concentrate on the one pipe I hadn’t cleaned earlier. I pulled out the pipe that lead from under the sink out through the wall and away.

That was when I noticed the smell. Something like a cross between 10-day-dead squashed skunk, that waxy gunk you sometimes find between your toes and what happens when the toilet paper misses just a bit and you’re in a hurry. So, yeah. Bad. Not knowing when to leave well enough alone, pack up and sell the house, I continued.

When I finally got the pipe out, I saw that it was filled with this black, jelly-like substance that stank so bad I could see the stink particles coming off it in waves (Hey! A physics joke. Enjoy.). I dropped the pipe, ran upstairs and caught a giant breath over the cat litter box in Zippy the Monkey Boy’s bathroom and got to work. I carried the pipe outside and upended it over a lush patch of grass, which began to brown before the gunk even touched it. Sticks, leaves and other yard detritus served to clean out the pipe and leave it in a slightly more serviceable condition.

I got everything put back together and, wonder of wonders, it actually worked. Well, except for a small leak, but I managed to fix that with the plumbers friend: crack sealant (that was what we call a punne or play on words).

So, two hidden talents discovered and two repairs made. The next time something goes wrong, I think I’m going to discover a new hidden talent: Finding the name of a good handyman.

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