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Zan Thompson

A Draining Experience for Holidays

December 27, 1987|Zan Thompson

There is a gentleman on the radio who tells me that my sewer or drain problems are most apt to happen on holidays or when company is coming. Although I try very hard not to entertain such dreary thoughts, he's right.

About three or four years ago, we had the bathrooms redone, including new sinks, counters and fixtures. Some weeks ago, the one off the hall that we refer to as the guest bath started to have mysterious problems. First, a damp spot appeared in the middle of the carpeting, and because whoever went into that bathroom was customarily wearing shoes, there is no way to tell how long this had been spreading like an evil growth on the chocolate-brown fringed carpeting.

I put towels down on the spot and marched back and forth like one of the Queen's Own at the changing of the guard. That was when I discovered that nearly the entire carpet was soggy. Patsy marched too. There was enough wet carpeting for everyone to take a turn. At first, poor Peaches was blamed for perhaps having made a thoughtless mistake. But then we realized that the carpet was wet enough to have been hosed down with a fire hose; even at her most abandoned, Peaches could not have created that mountain tarn.

About that time, we began to notice an odor in the bathroom, musty and dank as an underground cavern where mammoths might have dwelt. We bought everything we could think of. Flowery room sprays, stern public facility sprays, everything.

We were gaining on the dampness but we were running out of towels, and the washing machine and its jolly co-worker, the dryer, churned night and day.

Of course, the first thing I had done was to call the contractor who had remodeled the bathrooms and two bedrooms and had enlarged the kitchen. He did not return the calls. Finally, I caught him when he picked up the phone before the recorder could give me its reassuring message, telling me that, of course, he wanted to talk to me and to just leave my number.

He agreed to come over and look. When he did, he assured me that the toilet was not leaking. Perhaps it was water leaking inside the walls. This was such an insurmountable suggestion that I briefly considered sealing off the room. At length, the contractor replaced the wax seal at the base of the toilet. This is a round thing that looks like a Herbert Hoover collar impregnated with wax.

All seemed well until about two weeks ago, when Patsy told me she thought the leaking had begun again. In the meantime, I had thrown away the musty chocolate brown carpeting and replaced it with a lovely strawberry, far-too-expensive carpet. The contractor told me that I might have a certain facility with words, but I had paid far too much for the carpet. Comforting.

This time, I discovered that the entire floor under the carpeting and the rubber padding was awash. I called the contractor, which only confirmed his opinion of my mentality inasmuch as he does not return calls.

Then I called a young friend named David Steinbacher, who came over and pulled up the carpet and the padding. It is now draped over the backs of several kitchen chairs and looks as if a tribe of nomads who fancy strawberry pink tents might have moved in. Peaches loves it, running in and out of the pink folds.

My fear now is that the water that Patsy and I have again removed by throwing down stacks of newspapers, running back and forth and then putting them in plastic trash sacks, may have seeped under the oak planking in the hall.

The man is coming this afternoon to check for wet planking. The plumber I called last week says he remembers talking to me, but has lost the records and will try again tomorrow.

I still have to call the carpet company and talk to them about replacing the carpet, which is festive with a snowy white dusting of bicarbonate of soda. But it seems a waste of time until the plank man comes to check for dampness and the plumber comes to replace the toilet. Try tomorrow. The contractor who originally did the work? Oh, no answer, and I am tired of bleating and pleading at the tape on his answering machine.

The man with the Marley's ghost voice who tells me on the radio that these things happen on holidays is right. He just didn't tell me it would be every holiday. Happy holidays and if you come by, roll your trousers up before you go into the hall.

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