A few weeks ago, I spontaneously offered Jarod a guest-post slot. That was a first for me. And the world didn't end or anything, so I'm trying it again.
I have a coping mechanism which I shared with Kelso (the winner of the problematic pompoms theory, and yes, I'm still bitter about that) after a teeny tiny reno job went horribly wrong - that coping mechanism is - "This is going to make a great story later."
He took me at my word. Enjoy - this is part one of three.
So, I’m a pretty able bodied guy when it comes to DIY stuff. A lot of people think I’m a bit delicate looking for that but I don’t let that sway me. Anyway, recently I moved into what Spike refers to as a “trippy” apartment complete with high ceilings, hardwood floors, and odd shaped rooms. This is all very appealing to me with my eclectic tastes and such. So, armed with Spike's approval I jumped at the place.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not about to implicate Spike in anything negative because it was all me who made the choice to move there. That being said, 6 hours after moving in I had the words “WHAT HAVE I DONE?” reverberating in my head with all the subtlety of a drunken buffalo. So renter or not, I decided to invest in upgrading this place to something like its implied potential glory. I talked the landlord into contributing to the endeavor and made the trip to HomeDepot to get my stuff.
First room on the list? BATHROOM. If my bathroom could be analyzed by a shrink I think it would be deemed Bi-Polar / Schizophrenic with severe memory repression issues and homicidal tendencies. My idealistic mind had envisioned the removal of the “awful bathroom cabinet” as simply disconnecting old water lines and drain from sink and throw old crap out of window, laugh at resulting carnage on street below and install sexy new cabinet and hook up old lines and drain. Such fools we mere mortals are when the reno gods are in a mood to toy with us.
The old lines and drain literally crumbled in my hands when I attempted to simply turn off the “cut-off valves”. Well the carnage was all mine and the laughter belonged to anyone who was cruel enough to be watching. (You know who you are.) So, with water spraying in all directions I made the panicked sprint down 3 flights of stairs to shut off the water to my apartment, almost killing my new neighbor whom I had not yet met while she was bringing her groceries in. She still eyes me with marked trepidation.
So I return to my bathroom wet, sweaty and freaked out to begin mopping up the mess. With the mess piled tightly into my ill-equipped bathroom waste basket I began to dissect the dinosaur bones that I had discovered in the plumbing in my water closet. I AM NOT NEW TO PLUMBING. What I saw next will never cease to amaze and baffle me. I am familiar with pretty much all types of plumbing parts and pipe types and connectors but this was alien indeed. Connectors and adaptors strung together in a way that not only didn’t make sense but didn’t seem possible. Parts that had obviously been handmade by a drunk whose only previous building experience was with “Mechano”.
The parts did not exist in any catalogue or on the internet. Literally hours of research and multiple trips to Canadian Tire and Home Depot turned up nothing. The “expert”at Home Depot took one look at the photo of the plumbing I had taken with my phone, furrowed his brow deeply and got conveniently distracted by the needs of a customer whose home from was from this planet. I wrestled his attention back and he simply told me he had no idea how to help me and suggested I call a plumber. “Experts”? … O…K.
So, I took a break from the problem and started working on another area of the bathroom that I am even more familiar with, Lighting. Simple job, right? Remove an old light fixture and replace it with a new one. At least I thought I can do this job and feel like I have had some small success. Undo 2 screws and take down the old fixture. OK, the screws are out but the fixture isn’t moving from its lofty perch. “Pull harder” my brain says, so, being somewhat obedient to my imperfect mental processor, I pull.
Light fixture comes down with chunk of ceiling and wires. Fixture and ceiling fall to the floor and into the tub, tearing the new shower curtain on the way down. I look up after spitting a few ill-chosen expletives to see that I am about to have more reasons to repent for my choices of words. The wiring has broken off from a cable that is closer to my upstairs neighbor’s floor than my ceiling. To get at this connection point I must make the fragile ceiling hole slightly larger. Insert keyhole saw, cut gently and let the carnage begin again.
Another chunk of the ceiling falls. This time with an added bonus in the form of a long expired RAT!! Nest materials, a few shiny trinkets and a stash of hoarded peanuts deposited themselves on me and then the floor. So my YUCK-factor is through the roof now, quite literally as well as figuratively. I desperately want to shower or something to clean the horrifying “ICK OFF”. My tub is full of ceiling stuff and light fixture, my shower curtain is ripped and the water is OFF!!! AND there is a DEAD RAT on my bathroom floor!!
Ifind myself in a rage directed at everyone from Satan to the guy who wired and plumbed my apartment. They may be the same guy. Go to balcony to think….I decide to clean my hands and face with the bottle of water from the fridge and disinfect with Windex while I compose myself and drink a ginger ale.
Back in the bathroom with a bag, rubber gloves and a barf bag to begin rat removal. Bag the rat, clean up debris and deposit into garbage in back alley. I am now at the point where the sun is descending to its 10 pm deadline and my frustration has settled into an eerie calm that may have long term effects on my mental health. MUST BATHE!
I quickly patched the ceiling with a piece of drywall I happened to have and wired in the new light fixture. With the bits and pieces of partially useful plumbing items in my Home Depot bags I use my desperation-driven faculties to build a contraption that plugs the leaks so that I can actually turn the water back on and use my shower. I can’t flush the toilet at this point but I can fill buckets of water in the tub and flush it with the power of flowing water. I step into the shower at 1:30 AM and am asleep by 2. I have been at this since 7AM of the previous day. I ate a bagel. I am lying in bed itching from phantom fleas, bed bugs ticks and roaches but sleep does come.