Are we ever going to fix this pipe? Joke's on you. I'm writing about it, and not from a homeless shelter, so I guess I fixed it, huh? It's almost as if the whole enchilada is just an excuse to wax philosophical about a gaggle of extraneous topics, and to make fart jokes.
Fido, get away from that guy before he takes a dump on you!Let's go back in the hole shall we? It's pushing 11 PM on Sunday night, we've slowed the geyser of toilet paper and congressional probity to a trickle. Now what?
First, you have to disregard some forms of personal comfort, and protect others. For instance, there's no way I'm mucking around in sewage like the plumber I described earlier. I'm a generally fastidious person. I'm a slob, but I'm a very neat slob. I'm pretty tough, though, all in all. I've been willing to suffer through privations so terrible that they'd make your average cubicle dweller write a strongly worded Yelp review that would make Howard Beale sound like Howard Baker. I'll go without rest and food and water and vacations and a million other things the general public takes for granted, but I'm not going to smear excrement all over myself unless I get a pretty sizable NEA grant first. I'm also not going to suffocate myself and my firstborn to stay comfortable.
It was well below zero that night, but my first instruction to my son was to open the big swinging doors we had installed after we jacked up our house and slipped a foundation under it. That required a bit of doing, because snow and ice were bunged up against it pretty solid. My son dutifully squeezed through a crack we opened up by shoving like mules, went into the shed-type thing where we keep a disreputable assortment of broken tools, and got a pry bar and some metal shovels. After some chuffing, we got the doors to swing free.
See, this is where the plumber who wallowed in poop would have bailed out. He would have demanded the doors be kept closed because it was too cold. His type of tough guy simply like being dirty. It demands nothing from him. Intrude on his sense of personal comfort, and he'll pitch a fit, just like anyone else. The only difference between his toughness and yours is what's considered uncomfortable. He doesn't mind being smeared with other people's excrement, but forcing him to fill out a simple form after he completed a job would send him over the edge. He'd gladly risk suffocation to avoid having to dress properly for his job. His Megadeth t-shirt is his work uniform, period.
Me, I opened the door and was glad for the fresh air. My son got a few five-gallon pails of water, with a capful of bleach in each, and we dumped them on the floor behind the taupe lagoon that had formed around the busted pipe. We jostled the resulting roller out the doorway with a shovel and a broom. It started to perk up in there, I tell you what.
Then I told my son a story about plumbing. Of course it was a story about life, but I made it about plumbing because I'm a long-winded jerk. I told him that everything recent was bad and broken, and this was likely to be the case with everything we encountered. Our life is a monument to this concept. Our mission was to use our wits to trace a disastrous ersatz Rube Goldberg clusterfarge back to some place in its lineage that we could consider solid enough to build on. Everything before that, we'd work with, and everything after that would be torn out, root and branch.
Plastic plumbing pipe is pretty easy to work with, and easy to understand. There was a sheared off piece of no-hub, Schedule 40 PVC, 1-1/2" pipe sticking out of a fairly sturdy looking PVC elbow, which in turn was glued into a cast iron elbow. I wanted less than nothing to do with the cast iron elbow. The sheared off pipe itself was useless. If they had sheared it off with 1/2" showing, I could work with it, but they must have hit it with a hammer and broke it off half in, half out of the hub on the elbow. I had to save that elbow while removing the pipe. Easy to say, hard to do.
If the pipe talk is confusing, I'll run it down for you. PVC is polyvinyl chloride. It's the type of plastic the pipe is made from. The measurement, 1-1/2", refers to the inside diameter of the pipe. Schedule 40 refers to the thickness of the pipe walls. That's why you need different fittings for different grades of pipe.
PVC pipe like this is called no-hub. It's a straight tube. The hubs -- the part that surround the pipes to join them together -- are supplied by the fittings. Cast iron pipe has a hub on one end and a spigot on the other end. The spigot on pipe A goes into the hub on pipe B, and so on. The cylindrical part of the pipe between the hub and spigot is called the barrel. You can also buy cast iron pipe with a hub on both ends, or no hubs at all, but almost all of it will be hub and spigot.
Plastic no hub pipe is miles easier to handle than cast iron pipe. Cut the pipe with any old tool to the length you need, plus enough to fit into the hubs or couplings on each end, and then glue the whole mess together. If I could remove the no-hub PVC pipe from the elbow's hub without breaking the elbow, and if I could find a piece of 1-1/2" pipe, and if I could find a cap for that piece of pipe, I'd be able to seal this mother off.
And if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
[to be continued]