Posts Tagged ‘plumbing’

Ahhhh, yes, dear reader, I finally got all the previously-entangling bullshit out of the way and was looking forward to a restful day of piecing together my road trip plans. I needed a small camp stove and so I went out and got one, leaving that to be the last little piece of equipment I would require.

And, as soon as I was home, and had all my kit scattered around on the living room floor so as to arrange its optimal Tetris configuration into my backpack, I started to get that sensation. That odd sensation that “things are looking up, I really hope nothing happens now…”

Queue the music from Aliens, when Ripley realizes that she is in the same room with facehuggers skittering around. Yes, the high pitched squeaky violin sounds that build into a creepy crescendo; something is off to stage right and about to jump on the unsuspecting protagonist.

AND then a knock at my door. It’s the old lady from downstairs. Every time I see her, I hear that music from Aliens. And once again there she is, and she tells me there is water coming from her ceiling.

Now I have been back a full week at this point and this is the first I have heard of it, but maybe it has simply taken that long for it to make its way into the nooks and crannies and get through to her apartment below. But anyhow, it’s leaking from the toilet pipe because it’s got that lovely smell to it. Just fucking brilliant.

So now, I really MUST fucking abandon my epic road trip plans to epic digging up and redoing the plumbing AGAIN for the SECOND fucking time because the moron who I paid before to do it right the second fucking time didn’t do it right the second fucking time.

Now I know why Chilenos don’t want to renovate old places, now I know why, when dumbass ExpatBob went gleefully marching off in his own direction while the locals stood dumbstruck, exactly why they were dumbstruck. “Stupid gringo,” they thought, “wait a year and his toilet will be leaking onto his neighbor’s head.”

Why the hell is it that the guys who built this place made plumbing that lasted 100 years and the guy who did it last year out of indestructible never-rotting never-rusting plastic can’t even make it last 12 months???

But no, off I went thinking, “Stupid Chilenos! You’ll see! Such a great deal I got on this place and with just a bit of investment, it will be awesome! You are such fools to pass up this kind of cash cow!”

Awesome toilet leaks, for fucking sure.

I wonder how Chile isn’t bursting at the seams with its own sewage, really.

RIP road trip. I wonder if I will even have the time to get this shit (literally) properly contained before I leave.

I also wonder why the Gods punish me in this particular way– if you read back on past accounts, it is ALWAYS a plumbing disaster that ALWAYS derails my most epic plans, ALWAYS at the last possible moment. The Gods are, literally, shitting on my plans. Using my own shit, no less.

Septic tank fixed

Posted: April 10, 2012 in Life, Stupidity
Tags: , ,

PlumberBob actually showed up this morning on time, with all the parts he needed, and fixed the pump. He then re-buried it, put what was left of the ripped up grass back in place, replaced our torn-out paving stones, and even washed the sand and dirt and shit out of our gravel afterwards. I am impressed. Finally I have someone I can recommend to people.

I have been thinking about this situation, and many more like it. Would this happen to us in the US? Maybe. Maybe not. Probably not. At least not with the same amount of fuckups and inability to solve the problems immediately. Yes, it sounds like a first-world problem, not being able to flush your toilet or take a shower. I am not opposed to shitting in a hole I dig myself. But we work hard in order to improve our lives in order to avoid living the third world life. Digging your own hole to shit is OK when you are camping. It’s not OK when you are in your own house.

We have access to first world products, just not first world service or first world skills. THAT right there is the difference. And it is a big one. Uruguay pretends like it can be a first world country and in many parts it looks like it is and pretends to be such; but it’s not. It’s a facade, nothing more. Lipstick on a pig. And that’s fine, someone has to be the polished turd. BUT…

What good is a supercar if you need a 4×4 to drive on your roads? Maybe this place shouldn’t sell products it cannot service. Just a thought. If all that works is a big open cesspit, then do that. Don’t offer a septic system that can’t even last a year without falling apart. Why sell something that fails in a year, and your customer comes back to you angry? It happens again and again and again, not just to us. Not just to foreigners. It happens to locals too.

Don’t put your hand in the fire, you’ll get burned. OW! I said don’t do that. OW! Man, you’ll learn eventually. OW! Jeez, what is wrong with you? OW! Come on, seriously, learn how to service modern equipment and set it up right from the start.

I realize this is a multi-tiered statement and I am the pot calling the kettle black. Uruguay keeps putting its hand in the fire of modernity and getting burned, and I keep putting my hand in the fire of Uruguay’s backwardness and getting burned. Yes, I would be fine if I set about doing it all myself, as I am quite handy, but seriously, am I to rebuild my entire house from scratch? I could, but I have better things to do. That is why I paid other people to do it for me.

How this whole situation would have played out in the US: We would have called the guys who installed the septic tank, they would have sent a guy out. If they didn’t have their own guy available, they would have contracted it out to someone else. Someone would have shown up with a truckload of parts. Seeing as so much stuff in the US is standardized, he would have had, 99% chance, all the stuff he needed to make the repairs then and there, made them, and left. He would have found the septic access right away for the same reasons and minimized turning our yard into a warzone. If, for some reason, they could not fix it then and there, they could have at least pumped it out enough that we could flush toilets and run showers until they came back tomorrow. And that’s IF the septic system broke down in its first year, which is pretty well unheard-of.

If your shitter breaks here, it better break between the hours of 10am and 4pm.

I’m not ungrateful, I am actually quite happy that we now have things fixed. I am just saying that with either first-world service or third-world construction, we could have saved a lot of misery (and also saved WifeBob from having to deal with me when I am not my typical cheery self).

Today was supposed to be a party at our place, with a few of the Usual Suspects, some wine, a bonfire, and a batch of something you can no longer get here, surprisingly, which we make at home: corned beef. Fray Bentos Corned Beef was one of the foods that helped win World War II, and it was made right here in Uruguay. Just one of the many long-lost bastions of capitalist excellence that has been consumed, shat out, and not reseeded, by generations of Tupamaros, socialsts, and communists.

Speaking of shit…

I got back to the house today after a run for groceries, firewood, and other sundries, including rye bread which I had to search all 9 levels of Hell for, and notice an interesting smell in the garage. There is shit water bubbling up from the plumbing access in the garage and bathroom. Lovely!

I run upstairs yelling for WifeBob, and find her in the shower. “Turn off the water! Now! There is shit backing up downstairs!”

I go back outside and put my head to the ground over the septic tank. Sure enough, I hear the overflow pump running. But it’s not moving anything. In fact, it hasn’t been moving anything for a month. But it’s been running the whole time. That explains the $400 electric bill I was about to take into the UTE office, guns blazing.

Great. 10 people are coming over in an hour.

Meanwhile, I call everyone I know, frantic to get any recommendations for a good plumber, because I certainly have nobody I would call again. Nobody else does, either. They all got tired of waiting around for people to not show up, and have nobody to recommend. I fall back on ArchitectBob, who knows our system better than anyone else, and I explain the problem.

“No problem, the plumber will come tomorrow morning.” he says.

“I can’t even flush a toilet until then? Are you serious?”

“Don’t worry,” he says… BEEP! Tu saldo no es suficiente para… (You are out of minutes, bitch. Buy more.)

UnFuckingBelievable. I go in to my computer and order more minutes online because the process cannot POSSIBLY be automated in this day and age of 2012. I call ArchitectBob back…

“I am supposed to have 10 people over for dinner tonight,” I explain.

“Oh. Yeah, that’s bad. Let me call you back, I’ll see if I can find someone to do it now.”


The plumber arrives at 7pm, after we have thrown in the towel and called off the Corned Beef party. We spend 2 hours digging the yard all to hell, right after we have finally nursed it back to health after the drought killed it off, searching for the access hatch to the septic tank, which Architect’sAssistantBob insists is 3 meters from the visible access hatch we have already unearthed, when it is, in fact, only one meter (and about 100 holes) away from the visible hatch.

As we get closer to the septic tank hatch, we feel the ground getting hotter and hotter underneath, and when we finally open the hatch, a cloud of steam erupts along with the stench. Imagine what it looks like to take the lid off a pot of boiling water. Now imagine it on an industrial scale with thousands of gallons of hot, steaming shit.

It’s also a good thing I shut off the pump’s breaker before we opened it, or we would have been taking a hot chunky shower. The pipe where the pump’s outlet is connected has come undone, and the pump was in there for a month or more simply spinning its own waste all over the place, running 24/7, and making it nice and hot. MMM!

Since it is dark and there is nothing open at this hour where we can get pipe pieces to fix the broken pipe, we must call it a night and the plumber will return tomorrow. The tank is still full, now I am covered in and smell like my own shit, and I cannot take a shower because it will just overflow the entire garage again with shitwater.

“Es mal hecho,” the plumber said. Well duh. Sad, really, because the work we had done was supposedly the best in the area, and we paid accordingly. Now it has to be redone, the yard is trashed, and we are an extra $400 in the hole for the wasted electricity (take a guess whether we’ll get that back!).