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“Crappy” Day


Warning:  Pretty graphic details to follow so if you have a weak stomach….you’ve now been warned.

Friday started out pretty normal. I took the girls to preschool, hit up the gym, and settled into working at the JCC. About noon I had to come home because I was expecting a package that required a signature. I got home, ate lunch, and jumped in the shower. I took an indulgently long shower. This is one of the areas that I’ve tried to cut-back since I’ve been blogging away my debt but a long, steaming-hot shower is one of my favorite weaknesses and on this day I decided to be indulgent. My shower lasted probably close to 20 minutes. As soon as I turned the water off and stepped out, I heard the unmistakable sound of water running.

“Hmm, that’s weird,” I thought. “I didn’t accidentally leave a sink running in the kitchen, did I?”

I grabbed a towel, wrapped it around me, and walked out of the master bedroom into the living room. At that point I see it. Water is streaming from the second bathroom. Still nekkid (save the towel), I run down the hall way, splashing through water to get to the second bathroom. At this point I see water just pouring from none other than the toilet. Sewage water, to be exact. I grab the plunger and furiously start plunging (totally naked at this point, as I’d had to abandon my towel to plunge with both hands), but the river flowing forth from the toilet is undeterred.

I’ve never dealt with plumbing issues this severe. I’ve learned a lot since this point (ummm…turn off the water to the toilet!!!), but at the time I had no idea what to do. I’m running around the house screaming and trying to stop the tide of water from entering the bedrooms by throwing towels down on the floor to act as little barricades. Finally the water stops.

I call Chris frantic. I tell him we have an emergency and explain the situation. I don’t think he realizes the full extent of the situation. He tells me to simply mop up the water and he’ll handle a deep cleaning when he gets home. I do what I can to try to mop up a bit and I had successfully kept the water confined mostly to bathroom, hallway, and laundry room (all tiled areas of the house).

Next I do what any person who has just splashed in sh*tty water would do. I take another shower.

This time it’s a quickie. I basically just soap up my hands, arms, feet, and legs to get the sewage water cleaned off of me. I turn off the shower and I hear it again. The toilet in the second bath is freely flowing like a raging river of crap water. Again.

I throw on a robe and race from my room in horror. This time I call my Mom in tears and explain what’s happening. She guides me through turning off the water to the toilet. I call Chris, explain the full extent of the situation, and he heads home. At the end of the ordeal we have literally two inches of water in the bathroom, and it has now expanded into at least 2/3 of the house, including the baby’s room, the guest room, living room, and into the kitchen.

I am absolutely frantic. There are actual human turds floating down the Ganges River that is my hallway. I have never seen or dealt with anything so uniquely disgusting and horrifying and it is about this point that I have a breakdown, sobbing as I watch the water soak into our beautiful living room rug, overtake the baby toys scattered about, and ruin everything in its path.

I’m sure you can imagine how the next several hours went.

We called our landlord who came out to assess the situation (we rent from a private individual, not a company). He called his home owner’s insurance, who came out and sucked up the water and set up huge fans to dry. A plumber came out and discovered that there is something wrong with the line out by the street. What I didn’t know earlier (while taking my long shower) was that all of the water that was going down the drain from my showers was meeting a blockade and somehow in the pipes it forced the closest thing (the sewage water) to come back up in our home. We were also told the problem would not be able to be fixed until at least Monday (at the earliest).

We gathered up some essentials and moved into a hotel.

I never did finish my job applications. It’s now 3:00pm (Tucson time) and not looking likely that I’ll finish them in time. I’m also hopelessly behind on grading first due to the girls’ being home sick and now due to this situation. I want to go to sleep and just wake up middle of next week and have everything be done. If only it were that easy.

But let’s look at the bright side of things. This situation, although disgusting, isn’t all doom and gloom.

  • I’m so glad we rent! It’s no secret that we’d like to be home owners but when situations like this arise, I’m so, so, so glad that we aren’t the ones footing the bill.
  • I’m so thankful we just renewed our renter’s insurance. The home owner’s insurance only covers damages to the house (e.g., if drywall or flooring needs to be replaced). Our renter’s insurance will have to step in to cover any damages to our personal property.
  • I’m so thankful we have a healthy emergency fund and that we live on last month’s income so we have a big buffer in our checking account!
  • I’m glad I’ve had a chance to calm down and gain some perspective. When this first happened I was literally like, “WORST DAY OF MY LIFE!!!!” That’s just silly. Yes, its a huge inconvenience. Yes, it’s freaking disgusting. Yes, it has screwed me with work. But it’s not the worst thing ever. We are all safe, healthy, and happy-ish (the girls get a lot of anxiety over the new situation so they’re not exactly happy campers). But we’re all in one piece, and that’s something to be thankful for.

I’ve already spoken with a claims person from our renter’s insurance and will need to work with them on reimbursement of various things. We will for sure end up paying our deductible ($500), but I believe they should replace damaged items and cover our costs for a hotel.

There are plenty of other financial implications from this situation. Unable to access our home (and the main water has now been turned off…not just water to the toilet), we have had to eat out for dinner last night and all day today (and will continue having to eat out throughout the weekend). We haven’t talked to our landlord about what our tenant’s rights are (will he cover any of these costs??) because right now we’re just in survival mode – hanging out a hotel and trying to keep things as “normal” as possible for the girls’ sake. That’s the most important thing to me. Next week, while the girls are at preschool on Monday, we’ll have to deal with all the financials further.

I’m going to be 100% honest and say I don’t know how much I’ll be able to check in for the next few days. I will try to keep you all abreast of what’s going on but this is still very much at “minor emergency” status in our lives as we are displaced from our home and trying to make things work. My order of priorities in the coming days is as follows:

1 = family

2 = work

3 = house drama

4 = everything else (which includes blogging)

Sorry to be so brutally honest but I’ve got to keep it real with you AND with me and not make promises I can’t keep. I hope to be back on Monday with some sort of update but if I’m not then you know what’s going on. We’re all safe and healthy, but just dealing with some major life drama right now.

Thanks so much for the support!


  • Reply Cheryl |

    I am shocked that blogging isn’t first (just kidding). The blog will be here, take care of those sweet babies, your dh, and most of all yourself. Cheryl

  • Reply Mary |

    Oh, I am so sorry this has happened to you! All I can say is that thank goodness you are renting! That could be expensive. I know it’s expensive now but if you had to pay for those repairs, it could really be something. Hats off to you for finding a bright side. Really. That is a lot to handle! I know because it happened to me last year three months after I moved into my new (flipped) townhome. The sewage started coming out of the pipe in the laundry room floor. The only good news was that they did a good job laying the porcelain tile in that it was slightly sloped to run out to the garage instead of into the kitchen which is new hardwood floors. Not only did I have to pay a plumber to fix that, but it happened again a few days later so he had to come back a second time and then a month or so later then I was good until this summer, lol. I am hopeful we are done. I panic anytime I hear water running and I am afraid to run the dishwasher/washer and shower at the same time. He routed out my pipes a few times and removed the toilet and used a camera to check out the line. He didn’t see anything however he thinks that there is not enough slope in the line. The only alternative left is high powered flush of the line. I haven’t had any issues since then but it ran me around $300 or so each time (second one was free since it happened a few days later, lol). One of my neighbors told me that the previous owner (before it was flipped) had plumbing issues so I am not sure if I just inherited some plumbing issues. I did add a water/sewer damage addendum to my homeowner’s policy ($10k in coverage which is the maximum coverage). Bottom line, my sewage/water didn’t go all through the house, just the laundry room and garage and I was totally traumatized. You have a great attitude. I hope it all works out well for you with your insurance and with your landlord. It’s even harder with the twins. Take care.

  • Reply CanadianKate |

    You rent. Yay!
    You have renter’s insurance. Yay!
    The kids are getting an adventure in a hotel. Yay!
    You can take long, hot, showers at the hotel without it costing extra. Yay!
    Someone makes your bed for the next few days. Yay!

    You might enquire about moving to a Residence Inn (or equivalent) so you have cooking facilities. We seldom stay in any hotel that doesn’t include a kitchen or kitchenette. Bonus with Residence Inn is free breakfast and manager’s receptions. Homewood Suites by Hilton have a similar deal. Embassy Suites have amazing breakfasts. Talk to your insurer about moving since your costs to them will be lower if they don’t have to pay for meals as well.

  • Reply scarr |

    I am sorry, I laughed so hard while reading parts of this post.

    SO happy no one was hurt or injured. I hope everything works out well for you all and you get caught up with everything and it goes smooth. Renting sure has its upsides and issues like this are prime examples.

  • Reply Den |

    So sorry -that stinks!

    Keep all your receipts for food, hotel, missed work, etc…..either your insurance or landlords insurance may pay for those costs.

  • Reply hannah |

    I am also very glad that you are renting right now. We have had plumbing problems in two places we’ve rented (houses both times, go figure) and they were always nasty, and a huge nuisance.
    Renting saved us a lot of money though, and I know it will save you a lot of $$ as well. So at least that is a huge plus in this still difficult situation. It can’t be easy getting toddlers to be calm in a hotel room, confined without much to do.
    Hopefully you can go to a friend’s house for a few hours during the day or something to give them a change of scene.

  • Reply christy |

    We live in an old house that (FORTUNATELY) has a basement. On three different occasions (over the past 9 years), we have had sewage water back up into a slop sink in our basement. It only overflowed once (disgusting). Each time, the water department had to come plunge the sewer line at the curb.

    Your story is waaaay worse, and I feel for you. It is definitely panic-inducing. Each time it has happened at our house, I FREAKED THE FUCK OUT, and no living spaces were ever impacted. I hope things are back to normal soon!

  • Reply TPol |

    Oh boy! Hope, it will be fixed pretty soon and your landlord will get a cleaning crew for you. It is nice that you can look at the brighter side of this. Didn’t want to laugh but your style certainly is hilarious.

  • Reply Meghan |

    Hi Ashley-

    I am so sorry to hear about this minor disaster; I completely am in on the “ick” factor. A couple of thoughts about the entire situation:

    -I second the suggestion to go to a “residence” hotel kind of place, not only do they usually have a kitchenette type situation but there are also weekly rates available that are significantly lower than a nightly hotel rate.

    -Second, if you are worried that you are falling behind with your online class, consider sending them a brief note (email, announcement, however you communicate with them) just letting them know that there is a reason you have fallen behind and you are working to get back on track. Last semester I took an online class and in the middle of the semester the professor seemed to disappear, wouldn’t post the weekly work until Wednesday or Thursday (usually after I emailed him), took forever to do grading, etc. I was so riled up, ready to make a complaint about the quality of teaching when I happened to run into a previous instructor on campus……turned out the tenured professors had been loaded with courses to save money that semester, this particular professors TA had gone MIA, and his wife had had major complications from a simple knee surgery. I know, for me, just knowing there was a reason he had disappeared for a while would have meant a lot. Just a thought since I am sure student surveys each semester have a level of impact.

    I hope getting everything taken care of with insurance, etc. goes smoothly in the coming weeks and I agree with the others, take the time you need to get things in order. While I will miss reading about your journey if you need to take a week or two off I would completely understand.



    • Reply Ashley |

      Thanks for the suggestions! I actually did send my students a short email about the situation. I pride myself on my promptness in grading (and this is always reflected in my student evaluations – every semester people comment on how they appreciate how quick I am with grading), so this is a big deal to me. So far people seem to be understanding. I caught up some over the weekend in the hotel, but hope to make a much larger dent in grading papers today while the girls are in preschool (though there’s still so much crap to deal with at home….carpet has to be replaced so furniture needs to be moved, etc. Just stress, but nothing terrible).

  • Reply Alexandria |

    OMG. Thank goodness for renting (and for insurance).

    Actually, this happened to our next door neighbors just last month. I was absolutely horrified, especially because they have no idea what the cause was. (They were not home and just came home to a flood. They were not sure if it was sewage but are just assuming it is? Obviously I don’t know the whole story). As a homeowner, the most bothersome aspect is they aren’t sure what it was and if it will happen again. In the meantime they had to replace carpets, walls, cabinets, yadda yadda, and throw away tons of clothing and household items. It is just awful. IT’s not anything I have heard of happening before.

  • Reply debtor |

    says a lot about your character that you can even list out the bright side of things! I would be totally a huge mess!

    Good luck to you!! I’m surprised you even found time to blog! If you have to be out of the house, an extended stay place would definitely help with the cooking et al.

    ugh, that sounds so gross. this is why i’m also glad i rent!

    • Reply Ashley |

      Thanks, that’s very kind! This post is definitely draft #2 (after calming down). The post I was writing in my head was much more melodramatic but then I realized that it was really quite offensive to be so upset over something that is relatively minor. I mean, it’s huge right now in our lives, but its nothing compared to my friend who’s son was just diagnosed with cancer, or what we were going through last year at this time with my husband in the hospital, etc. I don’t want to trivialize the “real” problems in the world by thinking that this is the worst problem ever. It sucks, but it will end and then we’ll forget all about it eventually. It won’t leave any lasting mark on our lives.

  • Reply Jen from Boston |


    I don’t blame you for freaking out. I think we’re programmed to have a visceral ICK! reaction to human waste, and seeing rivers of poo floating down your hallway would be over-the-top.

    Thank goodness your daughters weren’t home!!!!!!!!

    I had a similar issue in my last apartment, but not nearly as dramatic because the house I was in had a basement. I started noticing that the washing machine wasn’t fully draining on the first rinse. Running through a second rinse-only cycle did the trick. And then one day I was in the basement when the washer began draining and water began spouting out from the standpipe!!! It turns out it was sewage backing up into my washer!!!! AAAGGH! It turned out that tree roots had clogged up the main sewage line from the house. The landlady called the roto-router guy and for weeks the basement smelled like a public restroom – that wonderful mix of chlorox and poo smells. As you might guess I ran a chlorine-only cycle in the washer a few times.

    But, at least I didn’t have it affecting my living area.

    And I second the suggestion to look into a long-term hotel that provides mini-apartments/studios. Marriott Residence Inns are great in that you can get a one-bedroom so your daughters have a separate sleeping area. But, since money is tight for you see if there are any Extended Stay Americas in your area. They also have a kitchen (stovetop only, no oven) and are likely cheaper than Residence Inn. Staying in either of those places for a long time is soooo much better than a regular hotel room. And you can save on food since you’d have a refrigerator and can cook.

  • Reply Connie |

    Rest assured that your renter’s insurance will pay for your additional living costs while the house is being made habitable again, including eating out etc. Generally though, they do like to see you in a residence inn or some such, especially if it will be awhile. Don’t forget to check the undersides of your furniture. Sometimes it soaks up water that isn’t immediately visible so it may still need to be cleaned. It’s helpful to take pictures of all the damage too in case anything shows up later. Like buckled wood for instance.

So, what do you think ?