The next morning our handyman/carpenter/hero arrived bright and early with a smile on his face. I hobbled around the kitchen whining about aches and pains but there’s no rest for the wicked and our handyman/carpenter/hero works like a machine. Can’t let ‘em see you sweat. Am I right? I was hard at work before finishing my 1st cup of coffee.
Water, tricky little bastard that it is, flows downhill. My basement is the perfect definition of downhill from everything. Thus, pumping it out was an exercise in frustration.
Of course I’m not the only guy who has experienced a flooded basement. The solution is to have a small portion your basement lower than all the rest and install a sump pump there. This includes a suitable discharge pipe, adequate power, battery backup, and… oh hell I might as well ask for a rainbow too. But it is true that most people around here are already prepared like that. I wasn’t and it was my fault and I suck and there was nothing I could do about it. It was time for me to repent and undo the tragedy of my ill preparedness.
This is a long way of saying it was time to bring out the jackhammer. If you’re a homeowner you know that it’s never good news to employ a jackhammer. It’s the nuclear weapon of homeowner’s tools. Once the jackhammer has been unleashed you are in for the ride all the way to the end.
So the handyman/carpenter/hero started destroying the one thing about my basement that works, the fact that it’s a water barrier. Busting it open annoyed me. After all, 90% of the time the goal is to keep water out. The fact that it can keep water in was proof that it could actually keep water out. Frankly nothing in my house works and it bothered me to destroy the one thing that was actually working. How was my poor little blood red “Silence of the Lambs” basement to know that the water was on the wrong side? In a fair world the basement floor would get a medal for bravery and the failed flexible pipe would be drawn and quartered.
I started hauling 5 gallon buckets of broken concrete up the stairs. I couldn’t keep up.
I did some math. I was missing out of work at X dollars per hour. I was hiring a handyman/carpenter/hero at Y dollars per hour. We were renting a jackhammer at Z dollars per hour. X plus Y plus Z equals too much.
We have kids. Kids are a joy and a light of life. There are also expensive and a pain in the ass. And now, they were going to be labor.
The kids are teenagers and therefore useless. They were still asleep! I hadn’t even had a full cup of coffee and I was covered with rock chips and mud. I intended to gently rouse my beloved offspring in a loving manner. Alas it came out something like this:
“Get your ass out of bed this instant!”
The kids blinked at me sleepily. They were probably wondering what the hell their lunatic old man was screeching about this time. I tried to be reasonable:
“I’m burning X plus Y plus Z dollars every hour. This is a goddamn emergency! It’s go time! Meet me in the basement.”
I stomped out, pleased that I’d communicated the full import of the situation.
Several heavy buckets of busted cement later I realized I was still doing all of the hauling and the carpenter/handyman/hero was doing all of the jackhammering and nobody else was doing Jack Shit! I stomped back up to the kids’ room.
“If you are not dressed and in the basement and hauling buckets of dirt in the next five minutes I will sell you on eBay!”
I don’t think Dr. Spock would approve. Fuck Dr. Spock. That asshole didn’t have to maintain a homestead.
The kids came down and helped out. I’d like to say that we all worked together and maybe sang old timey songs and cheerfully rose to the occasion. I even hollered a few bars of “Sixteen Tons” but they didn’t go for it. What really happened is we all collectively decided that life sucked, our backs’ hurt, and misery was our lot in life. The rather small hole we excavated really beat the hell out of us!
Maybe they’ll learn from this and do well in school and get filthy rich so they can hire shit done. Either that or they’ll be brainwashed in college and call their ObamaPlumber on their ObamaPhone from a safe space. Either way they’re not inclined to a career in plumbing.
On the other hand we got it done fast and I got that jackhammer back at the rental place in record time. Then I took the kids out for milkshakes on the way home from the rental place. Really what we were doing was hiding from our carpenter/handyman/hero who is a seriously hard worker. Honestly, I think that guy could work twenty men into the ground. I’m in awe.
Having hauled what felt like sixty metric tons of rock and dirt from the basement we started hauling buckets of mixed concrete back down. For those of you who haven’t experienced this joy, the process is to place a plastic form into the hole you’ve made and then to cram concrete in all sides to fill the void. It’s a messy job and I wound up covered from head to toe in concrete but, and all credit goes to our carpenter/handyman/hero, the end result was pretty nice. The kids vanished.
After that we installed a brand-new sump pump. We debated installing the old one, which was working after a bit of persuasion, but I opined that I wanted to 1.) Die before I had to replace another sump pump and 2.) Live a long time. So I bought a bigger and shinier pump and we installed that. We plumbed it right into the septic system. I wanted to spew water onto the lawn redneck style but my handyman/carpenter/hero asked “what if it’s frozen outside” and I deferred to his wisdom. I plan a better power hookup but for now it’s a short heavy extension cord.
In order to test it I dumped a full bucket of water in the vicinity. It flowed down into the hole (gravity works y’all!) and accumulated in the sump pump’s new lair. This lifted the float valve which automatically turns on the pump and it was sucked into the septic system. Sweet!
I cackled with glee! I capered about! I slapped everyone on the back (with my filthy hands) and congratulated our handyman/carpenter/hero on our amazing success. “Our long national nightmare is over!” I enthused. (Nobody gets Nixon/Ford jokes. Barbarians! OK fine, so it wasn’t that good of a joke. Cut me a break, I was tired.) The kids shrugged their shoulders and left amid a heated debate over who would be the first to take a desperately needed shower.
I dumped four more buckets of water just to prove that it would work. I had faced disaster and survived! Our carpenter/handyman/hero is used to my personality so he just chuckled. In the future, when life seems too much and the weight on my shoulders seems unbearable, I’m going to go into my “Silence of the Lambs” basement and dump buckets of water on the sump pump until everything seems better.