Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Diagnosing Clogged Pipes

Sickness was bound to happen, being in my own unintentional quarantine and all. I *knew,* I just *knew* that when I went to the train station and had to use the touch screen for a train ticket that that was the end of it. I miss the days of buttons that press with gloves still donned. Touch screens never work anyway unless you've dipped your finger in something like a cream-filled doughnut, which may explain the piled layers of smeared fingerprints facing you. I mean, really. They may as well develop a machine where you select your ticket using your mucous membranes:
Please insert your nostrils to confirm your transaction.

It didn't assuage my fears by seeing The Aviator that night either. So I got the whole raw deal: sore throat, swollen nodes, sniffles, headache, fever, and a mysterious rash on my face of all places. Luckily it's not too noticeable, but skin things stress me out. My medical encyclopedia pointed to rubella, or German measles, which seemed entirely possible to me being in Germany and all, but I dismissed the idea after browsing a little more and deciding it was out of date when I saw a condition it termed, "Gay disease." I think it's time to invest in The Merck Manual.

While I've been on the mend the past two days, I worried about a relapse from the cesspool of our crusty dishes that quickly piled up after a plumbing issue arose (again). It never ceases to be a big ordeal to get something done in the domestic quarters around here. It's like going to the doctor at home: if you have a suspicious looking growth on your skin, you have to go to the family practitioner first so that they can tell you to go to a dermatologist a month later since the specialist is on vacation. You explain through AltaVista Babel Fish to the Hausmeister (family practitioner) that when the dishwasher drains, the sink fills up and the pipes underneath the sink start to leak, but there's nothing in the trap; so he runs the dishwasher, watches the sink fill up, watches the pipes leak, and then checks the trap, and tells you that you need a plumber. Five years later the plumber (specialist) comes and goes through the same routine. You try and explain all along that you suspect that there's a clog deeper in the building's pipes but either the translation site sucks or you're just the American woman (patient) as indicated by their frequent referral to you as "Amerikaner."

So one of them gets the bright idea that there might be a clog deeper in the building's pipes and pulls out the snake tool...the moment I've been waiting for and dreading at the same time. See, I can't even pick the hairball out of the tub drain without gagging (even if it is my own). Who knows what a century old sink pipe could cough up let alone what it would smell like? I was imagining an old turtle carcass, but that's only because of a traumatic experience of having to dip one out of our pool one wouldn't believe the rancidness a waterlogged turtle can emit.

The snake tool has a motor on it to wildly twirl the thing around so that it's sure to clear away or catch the suspected debris. If Excedrin needed to replace the image of the jackhammering guy superimposed over the woman rubbing her temples, this would be an option. After about a half hour of this the Hausmeister and plumber reeled the snake in without having caught anything.

On a side note, I don't understand why plumbers aren't packing a shitload of towels. Are they not expecting moisture of one degree or another? Aside from the leaking that was happening from the demonstration of the problem, the snake tool brought up *tons* of turtle carcass-like liquid.

Three ruined towels later, they're down in the cellar trying to figure out which drain is which. The cellar has locked storage areas for each resident and the pipe apparently ran through our storage area...except that it didn't. When I told the Hausmeister that the one he needed to get into wasn't ours, he asked if I knew whose it was. Interesting background on the storage areas is that we were without one for the first three months of living here because there wasn't one cleaned out for us and the Hausmeister (building manager...same guy) couldn't figure out which one was supposed to be ours. One would think that he would have sorted out the ownership of the storage areas after our situation, but assuming that I would know? Yeah, Herr Hausmeister, on weekends the residents all gather amongst the rat traps in this chilly ass cellar for drinks.

In the end, the drain issue has been sorted out. I think. The Hausmeister came back giving me the thumbs up, so it felt appropriate to ask, "Alles gut?" (Everything's good?) To which he responded, "Alles okay," in that wishy-washy way. He turned and said, "Tschuss," on his way out the that "see you soon," kind of way.

Related Posts: Spring has Sprung

No comments:

Post a Comment