“We have a problem,” the giant standing next to my bed was whispering. Well, as much as a giant can whisper. I squinted at my clock. 12:45 am. I quickly surmised that we didn’t have a problem so much as my son had a problem and couldn’t solve it on his own. As I was about to roll over and ignore him, he said the words that strike fear in the heart of every homeowner:
“There’s water in the basement.”
“Oh, my goodness, son, I’ll be right there!” is not even close to what I yelled at Christopher, 23. He’s set up an area as his mancave in the basement, with the lovely new bathroom I had installed a couple of years ago. He’s in charge of flipping laundry over when it bings, but other than that, it’s his domain. I raced down the stairs to see what he’d done to it.
“I have no idea why the toilet stopped flushing. But now….” I peered into the bathroom. My favourite bathmat floated by and came to rest against several towels.
“Don’t worry, I used cottage towels.” Cottage laundry sits on a chair nearby. I delicately looked toward the toilet, water at its brim. I sighed, and told him to get the plunger. I staunchly refused to ask any more questions, though I might have found Atlantis.
“No! It’ll go over even more. I have to figure out how to get the water down first. But look! The washing machine has water in it!”
I’d already given the main floor drain a sniff, and it was fine. The front loader indeed had some clear water in it, so I leaned over and flipped it to drain. The drum spun for a minute or two, and emptied. I opened the door to a clean machine.
“How did you do that?”
“For crying out loud, Christopher, it’s plumbing! It’s all connected. The problem is the toilet backed up, but it was water from the tank that pushed toward the washing machine on the other side of the wall. Everything on the bathroom floor is garbage now. I’ll sanitize the washing machine in the morning but the drain is fine. The problem started in there.”
“It’s all connected? Well, how am I supposed to know? I’m not a plumber. It’s not my fault.” Now, this was the wrong thing to say to me at 1:15 am.
I stared at the large man in front of me, holding a plunger with one hand and his nose with the other.
“Deal with it. I’m going back to bed. Figure it out, throw out anything that you use to do it, discover the problem, and fix it. Same as I’d have to. Water shut off valve is over there.” I pointed out bleach, rubber gloves and sponges. I explained white, grey and black water to him (I worked for a carpet cleaning place once upon a time; now, those calls were interesting), and I went back to bed.
I pretended to go back to sleep, but my basement sounded like it contained a cast of thousands. I heard outside doors open and close, garbage bags being snapped open and much thumping about. I eventually drifted off because it was nearly 2am and I knew he’d never let any water reach his precious computer setup. Just after 2, I heard another whisper. I opened one eye to see my son, full of victory, flashing me two thumbs up.
At least Plungerman has discovered his superpower.