Ok, so maybe this isn’t the classiest title I have ever come up with, but this isn’t going to be a very classy post as it is about poop. Hopefully you will forgive me for my crudeness….
Maybe you’ve seen Christmas Vacation as many times as we have and can recite the lines by heart. If that’s the case you’ll understand the picture below all too well- Cousin Eddie, outside in his bathrobe, emptying out the good old RV’s porta potty into Clark’s sewer, uttering the lines, “Shitter was full!”
As funny as it is in the movie, it’s not quite as funny when it happens at home.
I must admit, we’ve been fortunate. We have lived in our house for the last 17 years without having any septic tank issues. We bought our house as a “starter house” when we only had 2 kids and were expecting our 3rd child. In fact, we moved in this house just 9 days before our 3rd was born. We never expected to still be living here 17 years later. We bought land many years ago so that we could build a bigger house and move, but then the housing market crashed and well, here we all are still in this little house.
While we make our house work for us, the fact of the matter is, this house was not built for this many people; nor is the septic tank. It has to be a gift from God that up to this point we haven’t had any problems. I think about how much has gone into that septic tank in the last 17 years and I am amazed that this was the first time we’ve had issues.
All this changed though this past weekend.
The drains have been running slow and to be honest, if you checked out my last post on Leo and Jake, we assumed it was because they had flushed something down the toilet. We spent a lot of time through the weekend plunging the toilets to get them to flush. Air would bubble up in between and when we took showers, the toilets made gurgling noises. We figured they must have gotten something pretty big stuck in there.
We were wrong.
It’s never good when you figure out at 1 am that it’s not just a clogged toilet but your septic tank that is giving you trouble. As I plunged the toilet in our bathroom, I suddenly smelled the stench of poop. I looked up and wondered where it was coming from. I found nothing and so I plunged away. The smell got stronger. I looked up again thinking maybe whatever was caught in the toilet was finally going to give way. I plunged some more. Before long the smell was so intense I thought I might throw up. I stepped away from the toilet and glanced to the bathtub. I was horrified! As I plunged the toilet, poop was coming up the bathtub drain and covered the entire bathtub floor.
I told Mike what was going on and we realized that nothing was stuck in the toilets, but that our septic tank was indeed the problem. And so, at one o’clock in the morning we googled and watched YouTube videos and in general decided we were up the creek. Finally we went to bed. We knew we had to call in someone to help.
We woke up extra early to be up before any kids got up. As soon as kids started waking up we passed on general instructions about peeing but NO POOPING and for the love of all that was holy, no flushing the toilets! The sun must have been in just the right alignment when we gave these instructions because they all listened and no one flushed the toilets! Maybe God was just having pity on us…
As soon as normal business hours were upon us, I began calling places to find someone to come help us out of this “crappy” situation. Our heroes said they would arrive in 30-45 minutes. The countdown began. Kids were glued to the front window, waiting with breathless anticipation while others complained continuously about how much they needed to poop. An agonizing hour and a half later, joyous shouts of “They’re here!” rang throughout the house.
As they unloaded the backhoe and found our septic tank, you would have thought our kids had won the lottery. This was a big day at the Fritz house! They gathered on the back porch above the two men and watched in amazement as they lifted the lid to the tank. Gasps filled the air as the stench rose to where they were. “That’s our poop!” said one of the kids with such odd delight.
The men began their work. As they suctioned out the tank, occasionally they came across something other than poop. The bigger kids got a pen and paper and began making a list of all the “extras” they found inside of the tank… 2 tubes of toothpaste, 3 matchbox cars, a spoon, 1 Little People farmer doll, a toothbrush, a bottle of seasoning, 5 wash cloths, 2 bottles of lotion, a toy phone, an elf sock, ½ of a door knob lock cover, a Lego, a brush, 2 McDonald’s cheeseburger wrappers, 2 small cups, 1 small shoe, the tub drain cover, and a whole roll of toilet paper. I have no doubt there was more that they just didn’t see.
As they men worked we heard random comments like, “Hey! There’s some corn! Bella! Bella! I saw that corn that was in your poop!” and “Wow, that’s a lot of poop and barf!” or “Some of that poop is 17 years old! That’s some old poop!” and finally, “I wonder whose poop that is right there?”
In addition to making random commentary, the kids also asked the guys random questions- “Hey, what would happen if you dropped your phone in the poop?” “Are you used to the smell?” “How old are you?” “How many kids do you have?” “Where are your kids now?” “Do you like sucking out poop?” Bless their hearts; those men had the patience of Job. They answered each of their questions and never once seemed frustrated. They laughed and smiled and were really nice to the kids. Several of the kids wanted a closer look and they didn’t mind them being down with them. They readily accepted the water bottles we offered and didn’t flinch when the kids asked if they were going to drink them with their “poopy hands”.
When they were finished, the kids watched in awe as they replaced the cover to the tank and then scooped the dirt and flattened it on top. “I can’t believe we’ve been walking on top of that without knowing our poop is just right there,” one of them said. “Yeah, weird that we’ve been walking on our poop this whole time!” another one answered.
As I signed the work order and paid the men the last of what little money we have, I thanked them for being such good sports. I’m sure they don’t do every job with such an audience. They laughed and told me it didn’t bother them. I asked if we our tank was one of the worst they had seen. Again they laughed again and told me no, ours was actually not so bad, especially since it had never been pumped before. I found that reassuring and thanked them for their kindness and patience.
When I came back in, I was greeted with, “That was so cool!” and “Wow! That was a lot of poop!” They talked all day about the poop and how much was there, about how disgusting it was, and about how they were amazed at what could fit down the pipes. We talked about the importance of keeping the little ones out of the bathroom so other things don’t end up getting flushed and about how important it is to conserve toilet paper and water. When Mike got home it was the topic of our dinner conversation as well.
It’s not every day (thankfully!) that you get to pull a Cousin Eddie, but when you do, it’s best if you have a crowd of inquisitive children gathered around ready to make comments, ask questions, and ooh and ah over all the amazing and disgusting aspects of the chore. It brings excitement and hilarity into an otherwise “crappy” situation.