I had to unplug the sink the other day. It wasn’t draining and I couldn’t get it unstopped using any of the easy fixes so I knew that I was going to experience the phenomena I call “sequences.” You probably have experienced it in the past but I think it’s one of the natural laws that haven’t been written yet because there seems to be no laws of physics, entropy, enthalpy or any other scientific terms that come close to capturing it. I do think there is an equation that may capture its essence though… here is my attempt at quantifying it mathematically.
T (# of hours to complete project) = (X (number of tools) * Y (pieces of hardware required) * Z (distance from store) * I (severity of consequences of not fixing) * P (number of people helping))/ E (easiness of project, 1 being hardest and .001 being easiest)
For those of you who aren’t mathematically inclined or don’t think like an engineer, let me explain the equation using the real life plumbing example I brought up before. In this particular case, it was a big meal with company… and the sink got plugged just hours before the big dinner was supposed to be done. Mom and dad were there with us and we were expecting others to show fairly soon. After the easy try to get it unplugged didn’t work, I decided to take off the trap under the sink. First off, I had to find the right wrench… a pipe wrench. A few days before, I had used my tools but had not put them back in the right place so it took me quite a bit of extra time to find it. After taking off the trap, it was obvious that the plug was not at the sink but in the part of the drain that is behind the wall. So, I attempted to put the trap back on but to my chagrin, the little plastic gasket thingy was damaged and started leaking. So, I had to find my little bucket with the plumbing stuff in it. Finally, I found it and realized that I didn’t have the right size and decided that the little leak wasn’t that bad… nothing that a little plastic container couldn’t catch. So on to the access plug to get into the other part of the plumbing. I had never had to use it before so, the search was on. Finally after a significant amount of time, I found it… right behind the heavy workbench in the garage. After moving all my tools and junk… I knew I should have cleaned and organized things as I went… there it was. I now realized that it was questionable whether I had a wrench big enough to remove it so back on the search again for the right tool. After trying multiple ones, I was able to remove the “plug” as I was told it was called. So now what do I do? Dad thought I should have a “roto rooter” type of tool but I didn’t so we improvised using some baling wire to see if we could reach anything that felt like a plug. No luck. So, plan B… my dad suggested we get the hose out and snake it down there and try to blow out the plug. The hose in place, water on… seems to be going somewhere but where? I hear Sara getting excited about something… oh no… water coming through the washer drain into the laundry room! An inch of water later we get the flood stopped. Out comes the bucket and mop. So Dad and I both agree that maybe it wasn’t the right plug. So… the search was on again. This time behind a bush in the front, another one was found. Same routine again… where was that wrench? Got the plug open… snaked the hose into it… turned it on… water going somewhere. We hear a funny noise… water running above us… like on the roof. Did I mention that it was dark now and we had to find and use flashlights in our quest? Shining the light on the roof, we see a beautiful fountain of water coming out of the vent pipe for the sink… just like one of those nice drinking fountains… bubbling and gurgling away… cleanly flowing down the shingles of the roof. So hours later… somehow it got fixed. In the midst of the sequences that were followed, isn’t it interesting that I don’t remember what actually fixed it? Did I mention in the beginning that our garbage disposal had never worked very well and we had plugged the sink quite a few times before this instance? I bought Sara a new garbage disposal.