Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Girl Who Has Everything

Whenever I feel a tad bit smug and full of myself, life jerks me back into reality.  When I start to think easy street is just around the corner, things go to hell in a hand basket seemingly over night.  And when I think I've said good-bye to my last contractor, handyman and service guy, and our home is perfectly clean again-- Well, s**t happens and I'm reminded of the joys of home ownership. 

A while back, I lived in construction hell for what seemed like an eternity when we did major renovations on our home. Fortunately, our marriage survived and we lived to tell the story, but oh what a mess, oh the noise, and oh the strange men schlepping, hammering and drilling in my house way too early in the morning, for months on end. 

We had a port-a-potty camped out in my front yard for so long I actually decorated it for holidays.  And the big dumpster on my curb-- The one all my neighbors thought was placed for them to throw their crap in-- It changed so often that I actually started requesting color coordinated bins from the supplier to compliment the port-a-potty.    

Have you ever had a port-a-potty in your yard during construction?  It's absolutely shocking the number of people who stop to use it!  Seriously, not just the contractors either!  The FedEx guy, mailman, bike riders, joggers, dog walkers, strangers driving by with their kids, skateboarders, pizza delivery guys-- You name it, they peed it!  One day, a total stranger actually knocked on my door and asked for a fresh roll of toilet paper.  Swear to gawd!

But once construction was over-- the potty, dumpsters and workers all gone, life was good-- I mean really, really good.  I brought in an industrial cleaning crew that sucked up every speck of drywall dust and dirt.  They cleaned, scrubber, shined and sparkled my home to brand new perfection.  I could breath again.  Ahhhh.

That's about the time "smug" started to creep back in.  I knew it was happening and I was getting too full of myself, but I just couldn't help it.  I loved my "new" house and thought I was finished with workers messing things up for the rest of my happy life.

Three weeks ago, well after construction was complete, and the massive cleaning crew was long gone, I tempted fate and decided I needed just one more thing to complete our house-- A brand new Toto Toilet in our guest bathroom.  

I always hated the old toilet because of it's lack of "flushability".  But, when we were remodeling that bathroom, I didn't have another toilet in my budget, so we left the old one and made due.  As I said in my Toto post, I'm a low maintenance kind of girl and already had enough "stuff" so I asked for the new toilet for my 51st birthday! I was a happy girl!

When my new Toto was installed, I swear I heard angels singing.  It was perfect and always "got the job done" when flushed.  I thought for sure, I would never have to live through any sort of construction hell ever again because, basically, I had an entirely new house! 

As you might imagine, everybody loved my new Toto Toilet so much that it's the only toilet that seemed to get used in our home.  And before I could say "Please don't squeeze the Charmin", you guessed it--

My Toto Toilet backed up.  Big time!

Out came the plumber who, after more than an hour of "snaking", could not clear the clog.  In came Boss Plumber with a "sewer camera".  Long story short-- the bad news was the sewer line was broken.  The good news was that only part of the house was affected, so we could use water "sparingly" during the repair, and not have to move into a hotel.  

@#$%^&!  This was going to be an expensive bill.

After much investigation, the Boss Plumber puts a huge "X" on our yard and another guy arrived to dig a hole 4 feet wide by 8 feet deep.  He dug, and dug, and dug, but made little progress.  Finally the digger announced we have very "hard dirt" and he'd be back the following day with a jack hammer and more diggers.

I knew immediately when the jack hammer arrived at 7:04AM because the noise nearly blasted me out of bed. The head-splitting pounding lasted for 7 straight hours. In the end, between the hole and the mountain of dirt, my beautiful yard was trashed.  The diggers let me know they were done for the day, but the looks on their faces gave me pause.  I figured their heads must have ached as much as mine.

Thirty minutes later, the Boss Plumber knocked on my door advising me the massive, just dug hole, was in the wrong place.  They'd be back tomorrow to dig another one, just as big-- six feet to the left.  

Again I said-- @#$%^&!

Next day, more jack hammering and another whale of a hole.  The day after that, the plumber could actually repair the damaged pipe-- The 6" round, very old, ceramic pipe that's actually the City of Los Angeles' pipe and not even on my property, but still my responsibility to repair.  And what a repair job it was since the plumber is not "allowed" to remove the City's ceramic pipe.

Boss Plumber explained that he was going to "blow a giant condom into my pipe" to make the repair.  I was very tired by this point, and for some reason, at the mention of a "giant condom", I started to blush.  

He explained a thick, shiny, black condom-like liner would go into the ceramic pipe to keep the roots out, and the pipe clean and secure.  Boss Plumber then showed me the entire process through a sewer camera, a big gadget which I'm sure contributed to the hideous cost of this job.  

It was interesting to see the damage through the sewer camera, which perhaps eased my mind a tiny bit, considering all the zeros required on the payment check. But Boss Plumber didn't stop there.  Oh no, no, no.

When the job was complete, Boss Plumber insisted on "proving" to me that he actually put MY thick, shiny, black condom into MY sewer pipe.  WTF?  It never occurred to me that I could be watching a DVD of someone else's condom-lined sewer on his camera's screen.

You'll never guess what he did.  Go ahead, guess.  I'll wait.....

Boss Plumber used another expensive gadget to wrote my name inside the condom, in the sewer, while I watched on the sewer camera's screen!  

But wait, there's more!  He wrote my name every two feet on the condom for ten feet! Yes, not only did I have a ten foot long condom, it has my name on it five times for all the world, or at least sewer camera operators, to see! How many girls can say that?  I can almost feel smugness creeping back in with that little ditty.

So now I have a beautiful new Toto Toilet AND a ten foot long, monogrammed, sewer condom!

What more could a girl ask for?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor  -  Joanna 
Photo credit© Andrey Armyagov -


  1. I love my toto toilet too. We bought a new house about five years ago and we opted for our toto then.
    I thought (silly me) that buying everything new would give me a few years of freedom from the dreaded repairman ...not so. I've had my refrig, washer,dryer,furnace and electricity either replaced or worked on many times...most out of warrenty...tisk, Home ownership is not for sissy's that's for sure.
    Good luck with yours and may you be repair free for a good long long time!
    PS I'm glad that I didn't have to have a porta potty out front. Your tale was hysterical!!!!!!!

  2. May your plumbing live long and prosper!

  3. Did you mean to ask, "What more could a Snarky Sister like you ask for?" condom...10''re not sucking me into making a politically incorrect comment. You are just not getting me to do it...not...

    Didn't Toto do a song called, "Africa"?

  4. OMG!!!

    I feel your renovation pain...our house was destroyed in Hurricane Ike.We spent 3 months in an apartment and a month back home living in a construction zone. But now I too have a "new" house: )

  5. I literally laughed out loud the first time I read it, then when I read it a second time, OUT LOUD to my co-worker, I had to grab the kleenex, as the story was better the 2nd time around.
    I feel your pain! But thanks for the laughs, I needed them!!

  6. No way! Monogram sewer have hit the big time now!

  7. I'm almost speechless. You know that's not like me....
    I think the most shocking thing for me is the amount of people who used your porta potty without washing their hands. And, the person asking you for toilet paper wasn't peeing, right? Or was is a girl?

    Your name is on a big black sewer condom....let's hope it stays there?

    I thought stuff like this only happened to me.
    Shocking but great post, as usual, Joanna!


  8. Holly, you are too funny!

    Joanna, you seem to write particularly hysterical posts when the subject is potties...not sure what this says about you. But you know, if you don't laugh...

    I think your Toto toilet deserves its own name; it has become a character unto itsefl.

  9. it must be true what they say then. once you have black, you'll never go hope your sewer problems are gone. my new toilet was a gem and it came with the promise that it could handle 15 golf balls. like i'm going to throw 15 gold balls in my bowl and flush. silly people.

  10. Wow - I felt bad for you just reading that let alone going through it you poor thing. I had something similar when the 'in laws' did our bathroom when my ex and I were still together. Not only did it take 8 weeks instead of 2 (whilst we were away on holiday) but we had to stay with the in-laws because they had turned off all the water! ARGH!

  11. Thanks everyone for your comments. It's been a crazy time with a lot of plumbers. I had so many plumbing trucks in front of my house that the "roach coach" aka "mobile kitchen on wheels" has stopped by five times! Those trucks were a fixture around here during the construction. Ugh. They are so big they take up the entire street. I think he neighbors are taking up a collection to help us move to a different neighborhood. They've got to be sick of the noise, mess and people. I know I am :-)
    Keep those cards and letters coming! I love hearing from you. xo

  12. I think my sister can relate. She lives in Ontario, CA in a very old house and they went through the same thing…camera in the sewage line to the tune of $150.00. I told her that she should just volunteer to put on a wet suit and go down there herself….anything to save a buck! They also told them that the city wasn't in charge of the restoration…bummer. Well at least you got something out of the deal - monogrammed black pipe condoms. PS - I'm in California as well.

    What's a toto??

  13. Your post killed me. I loved it. I think that is what I need. I had three people tell me my old sewer pipe had collapsed and they were rooting thru it. I called two plumbers to come give me new pipe. Guess it must be impossible since neither showed up - ever. guess I will continue rooting. No one mentioned a condom. One did say if it was 8 feet deep their digger wouldn't work.

  14. It seems to be always something! I must say though - you are the only person I've ever known who needed a sewer condom!

  15. Oh my lord!!! I am so sorry!

    I was upset that the damn cats ate the cords on my blinds!! Now the blinds will not open.

    Again - so sorry. I have heard the numbers on this type of project. Just awful

  16. Hilarious toilet story right down to your personalized sewer condom. Outrageous the use of your port a potty! lol.

  17. Been there. Potty party on the yard. Not fun, but new news here on the condom! Glad it is over!

  18. The camera is like watching a colonoscopy of your sewer line, huh??!! I saw these pipe liners on Dirty Jobs so I DO know what you are talking about!!!

    You lucky girl!!!!

  19. Hey - Cathy C took my colonoscopy comment! Your story made me laugh so hard I peed my pants, but better than having to use the portapotty.

    I'm so jealous - anyone can have sewer problems, but you YOU - yeah you, have the new toilet AND the giant black condom.

  20. LMAO!! I'll be back to read the toto toilet post! Thanks for following me, now too.

  21. I feel shamed for laughing so much at your misfortune. In fact, I may have peed myself a little. Could I just borrow that Toto for a moment?

    Hilarious! I read this story to my husband. He was freaking out for you about messing up the yard that much.

  22. Oh, that was funny, from the condom to you decorating the port-a-potty for the holidays.


    I would've too!


  23. Oh man! You've had a rough run of it, huh? I won't lie and say that I didn't have a big ol' grin on my face from the monogrammed sewer condom but I can say that I flinched many a time. =]

  24. Joanna...thank you so much for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment!
    Do I owe you a box of tissues?

  25. LOL, sewer condoms!!That's the funniest toilet story I ever heard.

  26. I'm still laughing at "decorated the porta-potty for holidays". I can only imagine a styrofoam reindeer hovering on the roof, or a sprig of mistletoe above the door. Eew. Sorry.

  27. Never heard of sewer condom´s before...funny!
    You can only hope that the saying does not come true....the one about "bad things come in threes"! :)

  28. At least your house is finished, ha! I'm looking at new windows that are framed by unfinished walls and I'm still cleaning up the plaster dust. The front of my house greets visitors with plywood; my husband hasn't gotten around to putting the stucco up yet. Yea, oh, so pretty. At least my electric bill is lower. Hooray!

  29. Wow. The green eyed monster is rearing its ugly head over your monogramed black sewer condom.

    Some girls get all the "breaks."

    (Get it? Breaks?)

  30. OMG! It sounds like it was a nightmare! How I laughed about the condom! Only a bloke could come up with that!

    Pleased its all sorted now. RMxx

  31. I don't know what cracked me up more: the strangers using the porta potty or your name on a giant condom.
    I'm sure it wasn't as amusing to you, going through it(and writing that check!)

  32. I still can't get over someone ringing your doorbell to ask for tp. It might be tomorrow before I can grock the personalized condom lined pipes. Interesting topic... Do you get nervous when things start going too well? I'm working on that one :)

  33. I guess I can't really add anything else to the comments, but my girlfriend had a broken sewer pipe also.....and, well, I promise not to tell her about the condom. She'd be jealous.

  34. I enjoyed reading this post, you tell your woes so funny, but I have to admit I was tired by the time I finished reading your post, sounds like you were to he__ and back. Hope you have a nice weekend and hope your house behaves itself.

  35. Just stopping back to let you know I've awarded you the Kreative Blogger award...I sure hope you don't wonder why!

  36. From sewers, port-a-potties to fancy Toto toilets this post tells a plumbers tale very well.

    You should submit it to a plumbers magazine.

  37. found your site on today and really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later


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