The Sorrow of Septic

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
When sewage gets ugly.

Submitted: January 20, 2010

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Submitted: January 20, 2010

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Septic. It's an awful word. It always refers to something bad. Wounds turn septic, right before the patient slips into a coma and dies. That's why doctors spray everything around them with anti-septic, including you. Mouthwash proudly tells you it's anti-septic, right there on the bottle. Homeowners on sewer thank their lucky stars they don't have septic. When the septic tank goes bad, the owner of the septic tank gets up close and personal with a few years' worth of biological by-products. Remember all those times you sat on your nice clean porcelain throne and pressed the nice clean little lever? You don't? Well, your septic tank does. One of these days it's going to decide that it's done taking your stupid biological by-products. And it's going to send them right back up into your nice clean bathtub. Usually this will happen when somebody is visiting for dinner, but you might get lucky and be home, asleep, in the middle of the night ,when your spouse goes into the bathroom to answer the call of nature (for occasions like this it will always be Number Two), and will press that lever one last time... And then your spouse will come back to the bedroom and turn on the overhead light and say, "Honey?"
"Glumphflumbluh-Turn off that light!" you will respond.
"Honey, the toilet's backing up."
"Well, what do you expect me to do about it?" you will ask as you burrow further under the blankets. "Go get the plunger. And turn off that light!"
"I did. It went into the bathtub."
"What!"
"No, don't go in there, there's something floating around...."
Have you ever noticed that stuff like this never happens in romance novels? And the handsome pirate/knight/warrior/random beefcake swept her off her feet and said, "I love you and only you, I will have you, you are the only woman in the world for me...Hang on, I need to make a pit stop....Uh, baby? Where's the plunger?"
But I digress.
You will not want to do what you have to do next. But there is something unspeakable floating in your bathtub, so you will bite the bullet, pick up the phone book and point at random to a number under the heading "Septic Systems." You will dial that number on your phone. And then large and burly men will come to your house with a large and odiferous truck, a truck so large and odiferous that you will hear and smell it coming down the street. If you are lucky, the large men will only charge two to three hundred dollars. If you are not lucky, the large men will tell you one of the following:
1. Your septic tank lid is broken.
2. Your drain field has collapsed.
3. We can't find your septic tank.
The first time this happened, the large man couldn't find the septic tank. He went poking all around the yard for it. Then I went and dug out the house blueprint drawn up by the last homeowner, a man who is the source of, well not all my troubles-let's say 80%. Clutching this map, the large man and I both went poking around the yard for the septic tank. It felt like some sort of sick and demented treasure hunt.
Me: I think it's here.
Large Man: No, that's part of the sprinkler system.
Me: Are you sure?
Large Man: Well...
More poking.
Large Man: No, no, that's the sprinkler system all right. Or something. But whatever it is, it can't be the septic. Let me see that map again.
More looking at map. More poking. Then more looking at map.
Large Man: Ah hah! This must be it.
Me: That's the TV room.
Large Man: He put the septic tank under the TV room?
Me: You would not believe the things he's done.
 
We finally found it, fortunately not under the TV room. Then the large man took a mallet and whack the attractive brick border put in place by the previous homeowner, a homeowner who knew-knew!-where the septic tank was and put an attractive brick border over it. After the large man had finished smashing the attractive brick border to smithereens, he commenced to digging. And he struck something hard.
The lid of the septic tank. It was full, all right. All the way up to the brim. And at the very top, on a layer of brown foam, sat something. I don't know who did it. It wasn't talking, and two people live in this house. The large man went back to his truck to get the hose.
While he was gone, the smell hit me. It was the same smell given off by the large and odiferous truck. This is no ordinary smell. You know the smell in gas station bathrooms, bathrooms that have never been cleaned since they were built, bathrooms where you are afraid of getting too close to the toilet in case something jumps out of it and drags you down screaming to a horrible death in the sewers of another dimension? This is not that smell. How about the smell of a garbage dumpster in summer, a dumpster that will someday be featured on an episode of Forensic Files? No, that is not the smell either. Combine the two, and maybe that will make 10% of the smell from a septic tank.
And while I stood hoping our neighbors weren't home, I heard a roar from the front yard. The large man had turned on the hose. The smell got stronger. The insides of my nostrils started melting. The smell penetrated to every part of the house. It became one with the furniture. It seeped into our clothes.
The bill came to $250, and we gladly paid it. Then I ordered Jeremy to take me away from the house. The local dive would be just fine for dinner, as long as it was upwind.
Six months later, the septic tank started running slow. I noticed the ground around the septic tank was wet.
This time two large men came out and gave me the news I'd been dreading. "Your drain field has soaked through." The larger of the large men looked around the yard. "Ain't no way you gonna get a backhoe back here, not unless you take out that tree and that bunch of bushes. I don't do drain fields any more, myself. I'll drain this out for you, but this is just a temporary fix, understand. You're gonna need a new drainfield, and it's gonna run you about $6500, minimum."
 
His own bill came to $350. It will cost $10,000 to put on us on city sewer, but my nose is melting again. We'll take out a home loan.

 


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