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Surviving the Plumber from Hell

The anticipation rose by the day, as I prepared to take two of my oldest daughters to California. They looked forward to the beach and Hollywood. I looked forward to seeing my friend, Sarah.

 Sarah and I met six years ago, during a trip to Cancun. Shortly after we met, bonded, and flew home, both of our lives fell apart within months. Not because of us, but because of people around us.

Today, Sarah and I have overcome huge obstacles: poverty and horrendous attacks on our personal lives. Thank God for cell phones, Internet, and perseverance; we formed our own private support group.

As the departure day approached, I could not shake the disturbing "feeling" that something really bad was going to happen while on the trip.

After trying to ignore it for days, I gave in, please don't let us get into a car wreck. Keep us safe. I'll take anything else!  This was my constant prayer that week, mingled with, Okay that's it! Go away

We had a very enjoyable trip there. Sarah and I burst into each other's arms and could not believe we were actually hugging! What an awesome reunion!

That was Wednesday. By Thursday evening, the premonition began to unfold…the sewer backed up in Sarah's beautiful Diamond Bar home! Soapy water and all kinds who-knows-what came up from the drains and seeped under walls.

With only one shower down, and three to go, we were exasperated!

"I'm so sorry, Sarah! I sure can't think of one person who would be handling this like you are..." as her neighbor opened her door to us.

"Oh, Sweetie, after all that I have been through, this is nothing!"

The plumber arrived Friday morning. "Yup, must have been something flushed that shouldn't have been flushed." He informed, as he snaked his way to the clog. Now, being the owner of a septic tank, I know that non-flushables clog toilets, and backs them up, but the last thing they have the power to do is to plug and back up an entire sewer pipe- all the way to the street.

He left us with the feeling of, "it's all our fault", even though he changed his story several times while racking up a $600 fee for Sarah to pay. "Could be tree roots…could have been a build up of sludge…I replaced pipes behind your washer since they were kinda small". Washer? huh? But the back-up was in the tub…or was it the toilet? Wait, it was something WE flushed…or, I think he said, 'in the drain to the street'…oh well…it was fixed...

 The insurance co. sent a disinfecting team and three days of heaters & fans. While things were drying out, the girls and I made use of the beach, highways & cameras. Sarah and her sons were sent to a hotel, since her master bed and bath were unusable, and we were occupying the guest rooms. Coming from a large family, noise and disruptions while sleeping aren't an issue. Besides, Sarah and her children needed a quiet place to sleep.

Before we knew it, there was only one, last big day left: Universal Studios. As we were heading out the door that Monday morning, Whala! More sewer water!  I unplugged fans and heaters...Now what did we do???!!!

I called Sarah. She had just dropped her oldest off for his first day at K-5, and was taking her feverish 4 year old to work with her. She received my call, promptly ran a red light, signed the ticket, and came back. She began making calls as we scurried out the door to start our, later-than-planned-all-day-trip, to Universal. I felt guilty!

"Hey Sarah, what's up?" The highway was great today.
           "Hi Sweetie, well, the plumber was here and he said that this time he found a lot of sand…like a sand bar in the pipes…"
           "Oh, I suppose, he didn't get it all the first time. He probably just poked a hole in it."
           "Well, he found a bag of sand by the washing machine. Did the girls shake out their stuff from the beach before they washed it?"
            "What! Now he's saying that it's BEACH sand???" What was it the first time, then, fatso! Couldn't get your fat arm down the hole far enough?

"Sarah. Seriously, the girls know not to dump sandy stuff I the washer, and besides, I saw them shake it off in the driveway beforehand." Stupid idiot…he needs to spend his money on plumbing school. Like the bag of sand on the floor was forensic proof that we dumped at least three more down the washing machine.
           "Oh, I don't think it was the girls, but he said there was a lot of sand in the pipes…"
           "What an asshole. I wonder why he's so bent on blaming your guests?" Maybe he wants us out so he can move in…I saw the way he was trying to impress her that day…
           "Oh, Honey, I don't know. It's so frustrating…"

We both laughed hard at the realization that if our friendship can survive this, it can survive anything. True friendships are bigger than belching sewers!

"Well, I'm sure it's more serious. He's an idiot. You should get a second opinion."

It took until the Mummy Ride before I forgot about the lying plumber. The Mummy Ride will do that to you! The fearsome surprises block your memory; at least for a while.

Exhausted, but satisfied with the day, I didn't care what the news was when I saw, "Sister Sarah" on the caller ID.
          "Hey, what's up? We are almost to Diamond Bar."

"Hi Soni…oh, my gosh! I have to tell you that I've been talking to my father-in-law…he said that there is a serious problem, and that the plumber is wrong. We should be able to dump buckets of sand down a drain and it should NOT do what happened to us, not to mention, TWICE in a row."  Praise God!! A man of true worth!

"Well, bless his heart, Sarah. I knew it! I was talking to Eddie, and he says the same thing. I'm so thankful!"

During the entire ordeal, Sarah was stretched and stressed beyond measure. The first day of school; not being able to get time off during our visit; sick children with high fevers; and the embarrassing, disruptive sewer intrusion that caused her to stay in a hotel, while she had guests in her home! Yet, she handled it all, with grace, and the sweetest spirit ever.

During the entire ordeal, I worked daily at avoiding accidents on the California highways (not an easy task!).

This must be a diversion program I laughed out loud as I remembered my prayer-  "I'll take anything".

All in all, it was an awesome trip, aside from the sewer scandal.

I did learn not to be courteous to California drivers, as it throws them into shock and they freeze up. It is better to just barrel your way through and drive defensively. We were able to see more of California than we ever have before, thanks to Sarah, and her unshakable hospitality.

Hollywood was fabulous, Rodeo Drive looked just like in the movies; the beach was not overcrowded, and the waves were perfect. The weather had cooled to a beautiful 75-80 degrees, but the day we left, it shot back up to triple digits again!

I learned a lot about Sarah's character: totally delightful.

And I especially learned a lot about con-artists.

That plumber was unprofessional, and a con-artist. He had Sarah's sister thinking he's the best, by doing a simple job for her quite well. Then he pulls dirt on Sarah, and overcharges her, knowing that the sister will back him up. Since then, Sarah has held him accountable for his actions by asking too many questions. He now refuses to "deal" with her, insisting on her dad to be the mediator!

This plumber needs to lose his license. However, I can think of a great diversion program...and it would involve sewer water.
Aopaq says:
Wow....Sarah sounds like an amazing friend...glad to hear it all worked out in the end and you had a wonderful trip!
Posted on: Jan 03, 2008
Sonicido says:
Sarah's Dad is now suing the plumber!
Posted on: Oct 06, 2007
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Surviving the Plumber from Hell
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