Do You Feel That Erosion?

20 Jun

On Father’s Day, my mad paternal skillz were rewarded with a clogged floor drain in the basement. An hour later, Ivan from Belarus arrived with the nastiest pair of gloves I’d ever seen. After snaking our hole, dislodging our muck, and taking $275, he gave me a 45 minute history lesson on Eastern Europe. I thought 15 minutes was fine–you know, hit the basics–but I’m terrible at producing body language that conveys “I’m bored!” Most people would cut through it and say “Hey man, it’s been interesting talking to you, Ivan.” Not me. My smiles and nods said “I can stay out here all night, dude.” Ivan feasted on my anti-assertiveness.

Ivan talked with a thick accent, so the 45 minutes felt longer. I kept leaning in like that would somehow help me understand him. I eventually drifted through him and all at once we noticed that we were standing with our backs together; it was so wierd.

Now that I think about it, he could have been talking about another topic entirely, like the intricacies of poop flowing through pipes. I do recall hearing something similiar to “feces,” and, at one point, he used a palm-down, flat hand to animate something moving at a fast pace. His hand whooshed from my right to my left with a subtle downward slant. Hmm.

I fixated on his fingernails as he gesticulated. A different plumber once told me that plumbers should never chew on their fingernails. It could have been part of a plumbing joke, but it seems a good policy anyway. Earlier, Ivan stuck his whole arm into our floor hole. He said something that I didn’t comprehend and then something that I did: Put you arm down there and feel that.


I stood looking at him hoping the pause would communicate that I didn’t want to put part of my body in the dirty hole, but he said it again. He said something about this being “clean” water, separate from the “dirty” water. I thought “Wow, we are so not jiving on the definitions of clean and dirty.”

That hole was not clean. Dirty. Very dirty.

Still, as a responsible homeowner, I felt obligated, so I slid my arm down there and felt what I was supposed to feel: growth on the surface of the pipe. He said “I don’t know if it’s corrosion, or … erosion, or what, but that build-up is making your hole smaller than it should be.” Erosion? I doubt that. If I wasn’t so grossed out I would have chuckled.

I had two thoughts: something’s going to bite me or my hand’s going to get stuck. I pulled out safely, but my bicep had slimy, black shit on it; I wanted to run to the sink in the next room. I took one step and he started talking about the growth some more, so I stopped. I held my gross arm out away from me like I had Body Integrity Identity Disorder: a compulsion to sever a healthy limb from your own body. He could have been messing with me; I’m not sure, but–damn–he has to realize (doesn’t he?) that regular people aren’t used to getting icky sludge all over themselves.

I wouldn’t be shocked if he was laughing at me as I scrubbed my arms. I should have said “See this shit on my arm, that makes it not clean.” What are they teaching kids over there in Belarus anyway?

Back outside as the sun was setting on our conversation, he said something like “feces,” which could have been “species.” I thought we were talking about plumbing again, so I blurted out “I can’t believe I put my arm down that hole!” He looked at me like grasshoppers were climbing out of my nose. He said “Oh no, that water something something something. I would never tell you to put your arm into something something toilet paper and poopoo.” I felt like such a wuss.

Maybe he thinks every man has an inner plumber fighting to emerge, that we’re born attracted to funky smells and oily smudge marks. Well, I’ll tell you, Ivan, I wasn’t born with a silver pipe wrench in my mouth. No sir. So next time a plumber urges me to join in for the dirty bits, I’m going to stand up for my right to stay clean.

2 Responses to “Do You Feel That Erosion?”

  1. Lunar Euphoria June 20, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

    Horrific! But I love the pictures.

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