I’m happy. I can now flush my toilet.
It is not a good way to start the week when you flush your toilet and up through the shower drain bubbles who knows what.
The last time I called a plumber for a similar problem two years ago I couldn’t unclog it cost me $325. I also got the advice that if I wanted a chance at cleaning it myself in the future or to have someone do it for less expense should the need arise again I would have to invest at least $1,200 to have a sewer clean out installed on the sewer line leading to the city’s pipe in the alley. That’s part of the charm living in a home built in 1953
Fortunately a friend recommended I try Johnny’s Plumbing out of Ripon. A long story short I now have a functional sewer clean out, an unclogged line, and was out only $170. I realize everyone has a different experience and results but my bank account and I are sold on Johnny’s Plumbing.
It’s funny how you don’t really think about things that are essential until they stop working.
Of course, if you live in a two bedroom house with one bathroom it takes on a bit more urgency.
That said, I still can’t believe people who are stunned to find out my house only has one bathroom. And while I have Sawyer — my granddaughter’s friend — living with me, getting access to the bathroom when I need or want it is rarely if ever an issue.
It helps that I spent the first six years of my life in a two bedroom, one bathroom house with my parents and two older brothers. If five people can make due with one bathroom then one or two people doing so should be a breeze.
It wasn’t until 1937 that my mother lived in a house with indoor plumbing. My grandmother’s ranch in western Nevada County was literally a four mile one-way walk to a one-room school house. High school meant boarding with families in Grass Valley or Nevada City.
Keep in mind this was only 81 years ago. We don’t have to visit a Third World country to see how lucky we have it today. All we need to do is remember what America was like not too long ago. Granted, by 1937 the majority of the population had indoor plumbing and school was a bit closer with students and teachers in greater numbers.
And I bet if you asked any student — and most teachers — whether sanitary sewer or smartphones have a bigger impact on the quality of life they’d say smartphones even if they needed to go and were caught in a situation where there was no nearby facility. For almost all of us that would be a one-time fluke.
Near universal access to sanitary sewers in this country has made it possible for us to life long enough to enjoy smartphones.
If you were born in this country in 1900 and you were male, your life expectancy was 47 years. It was 49 years if you were female. Fast forward a century. If you were born in 2000 as a male you could expect to live to 75 while a female would have an average life expectancy of 80.
Smartphones do not extend life expectancies. Sanitary sewer, clean water supplies, and solid waste collection do. Three things that we take for granted and have a hissy fit if prices increase. Yet we don’t hesitate to fork over $800 for an Apple smartphone and then chase it with $40 to $80 per line each month in wireless charges.
We can debate the merits of the Affordable Care Act but they’d be less of us talking about the pros and cons if America in 2017 did not benefit from sanitary sewer.
Those three things we take for granted have turned out to be the best defense we have against the spread of diseases.
Yet we do things that make you wonder whether we are nuts.
We flush things like baby wipes, feminine products and such down the toilet and send them on their way to treatment plants where they raise havoc— assuming we don’t dump enough to clog our own sewer lines to prevent them from getting there — yet we have a cow if someone drops our smartphone.
As Americans we spend $11.8 billion annually on bottled water — about 2,000 times more per ounce than treated tap water — because social media campaigns and marketing blitzes convince us it is somehow not quite safe to drink tap water.
We grumble about employing re-useable bags but we forget over a century ago most people had to get rid of their own garbage. Allowing it to pile up breeds rats and flies.
While there have been tremendous advances in medical care and treatment, Ben Franklin was right in observing “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Rest assured having just one bathroom in my house has not heightened my appreciation of functional toilets and sanitation systems made possible by engineers that don’t dabble in code.
It’s realizing that at age 60 the reason I’m alive today and in good health is due in a large part that when my toilet does flush it sends its contents to a wastewater treatment plant, that when I turn on the faucet out flows water free of disease and other things that can harm you and when I put my brown cart out once a week I know what is inside will be disposed of in a sanitary manner.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209.249.3519.