I’ve had trouble with the flow of this story. No matter how I try to depict the events, I just cannot find adequate words. It’s as if my brain is stopped up and I cannot uncork it. I feel like I need a mental plunger to release my thoughts. In some ways, I feel like I have a kindred spirit with my trailer’s septic system.
Well, I’m just going to plug along and hope that the story will eventually flow.
Just yesterday, I was on the phone with my sister when I told her that we are now officially trailer trash. During the course of our conversation, my sister suggested that “trailer trash” was too harsh a description for our current living conditions. After some discussion, we concluded that trailer trashe’ sounded much more posh; like when you say I’m shopping at Target’ instead of plain old Target.
The reason that we are now officially trailer trashe’ is because we have finally moved into our RV located in the pasture behind our house. We are renting out our house in the hopes that we will be able to save our home by having the rent cover our mortgage. Essentially, we will be living mortgage/rent free for a year if we can survive RV living.
We’ve been in the RV for two weeks now. In the past two weeks, Bill has hit his head on the cabinet above the bed at least ten times, our dog has tumbled down the RV steps countless times (he now walks crooked), our cat moved in with the neighbors, our 12-year-old daughter swears her life has come to an end, I fell of the step stool trying to reach the spices and twisted my knee, the sliding shower door regularly falls off, Bill ran over the satellite cable, water hose and electric cord and ripped all of them out of the trailer and our toilet is completely backed up…things are going pretty well.
As I’ve mentioned, our toilet was completely backed up because the holding tank was full. This made it imperative that we get our septic system done immediately. In order to save money, we decided to complete the project ourselves. I mean, how hard could it be to put in a small septic system? All you have to do is dig a hole, throw in a holding tank, glue a few pipes together and cover the whole thing in some rocks - a piece of cake. Of course, the hole required that we rent a machine.
It was early morning when I stepped out of my trailer to the blinding glint of sun off the steel frame of the monster machine filling most of my field of vision. The thing wouldn’t fit under the huge oak trees so it was deposited right in the middle of the pasture looking like a massive sleeping prehistoric creature. I don’t know what I was expecting, but in my mind I envisioned one of those little diggers similar to the buckets you see at a playground. This beast dwarfed our little Chevy pickup truck making it look like a Tonka toy sitting next to it. The tires were so huge that our Toyota Scion on the other side was completely hidden from view.
“Bill,” I screamed in awe, “there’s a massive pterodactyl in our pasture!”
“Nonsense,” I heard my husband’s voice as he came up behind me, “it’s just a...HOLY CRAP...front end loader. How are you going to operate that sucker?” He asked.
“Me!” I looked at him as if he had three heads.
“Well, you didn’t think I was going to do it did you?” He smiled wickedly at me. “Come on, you know you’re dying to mount that steed.”
He knew me too well. I couldn’t wait to get behind the controls. I ran out the door, had my boots on in a flash and boldly ascended the steel steps. Bill followed laughing at the sight of all five feet of me trying to adjust the seat so that I could reach the foot pedals and the hand controls.
“What do I do now?” I yelled to Bill as I spun the seat around to face the bucket. I looked at the array of buttons and levers in bewilderment. I knew that there had to be a key somewhere to turn the damn thing on. Five minutes later I located the key to my left under all the levers. I timidly turned the key not sure what would happen. The monster roared to life. I felt it’s power rumbling under my feet and realized that the only thing standing between safe operating procedures and total devastation was me!
“How do I make it go forward?” I yelled to Bill who shrugged his shoulders.
Just then, I spotted some movement out of the corner of my eye. From my perch I observed a parade of neighbors coming across the pasture on foot and in golf carts loaded with their lawn chairs and beer. Nothing like a backhoe to rouse the neighbors out of their beer induced stupor. They must have seen it being delivered this morning because I hadn’t told anyone about it. Word sure does travel fast around the 55 and over park. Maybe one of them will know how to get this thing in gear.
I reached down to turn off the machine so I could go ask the neighbors if any of them could help. Suddenly a hand grabbed mine and I screamed. The hand belonged to Taco who had appeared out of nowhere at my right shoulder. Over the din of the machine, I never heard him coming. Taco, a friend of ours who works at the local tractor rental company, is the guy who delivered the machine this morning. I don’t know why he is called Taco - it’s just the only name I know him by.
“Need some help?” He laughed.
“Boy, am I glad to see you.” I answered, “I was afraid I might run over Bill and flatten the trailer.”
Under Taco’s tutelage, I was able to move the machine without squishing any seniors who were now perched on their lawn chairs at the back of the trailer where I was going to be digging the septic tank hole. Taco was a master teacher. I became an expert backhoe operator in a matter of minutes. Okay, maybe it was more like a matter of hours, but at least I didn’t knock down the trailer or knock anyone on the side of the head with the bucket.
I had to learn how to operate the bucket as well as the front loader because once the hole was dug, I was going to have to push the dirt back in and level it. The hole I was digging had to be at least seven feet deep and twenty feet long. It would be an all day affair but I was ready for the task. One of my neighbors handed me a beer as I masterfully dumped my bucket on the now ten foot tall pile of dirt.
Perhaps it was the beer, but it appeared that the hole I was digging was just a little off kilter. It was just a tad crooked and maybe there were parts where it was deeper than necessary, but I doggedly kept at it as the neighbors cheered me on. I figured a hole for a septic tank didn’t have to be perfect.
I found out later how wrong I was.
So, it took all day to dig the hole and place the holding tanks. Bill and his friend Charley did all the connections while I was off getting tires on the car. When I returned, I was impressed with the amount of work they completed. They had to work super fasts because they didn’t want to have to do anything the next day as they had tickets to a football game. In the morning, I was left alone to fill in the hole. I guess the neighbors found better things to do. Or, maybe they were still sleeping off all the beer they consumed the day before. In any case, I operated the bucket and front loader like a pro (with no one there to vouch for my newfound prowess). I was excited to finally finish the chore by late afternoon and I quickly gathered the drainage pipe to run it from my trailer to the new septic.
As I looked at the section where the pipe connected, I noticed for the first time that it was a bit lopsided. This could explain why Bill and Charley had completed the connections in such record time. It wasn’t level. The flaw occurred at the connection causing the pipe to be angled up. I know that water only flows down so this could pose a problem because the water coming from the trailer would flow down and then, right at the end, would have to flow up to make it into the septic tank.
Oh well, I’m sure it’s nothing, I said to myself as I fitted the pieces together.
That night, as I climbed into bed I smelled a strange odor wafting in through the back window of our bedroom.
“Do you smell that?” I asked Bill who was just entering the room.
“What’s that smell?” He replied.
“DAD!” Lulu yelled from the living room. “Take it outside!”
“It wasn’t me!” He yelled back.
While they squabbled, I threw on my robe and grabbed the flashlight and headed to the back of the trailer. It didn’t take long to locate the source of the foul odor. Right next to the septic tank was a gurgling gooey seepage erupting like a mini volcano.
I quickly closed the RV’s sewer valve and made a hasty retreat before I puked. We immediately closed the windows before the smell overtook us all. The next day I inspected the problem and discovered that there was a diagonal split right where the pipe angled up. Oozing out of that split was raw sewage.
What now? I asked myself.
Luckily, my friend has a friend who has a port-o-potty business. I immediately called her and the next day our shiny new john arrived. Well, I thought as I admired the outhouse, this does give new meaning to trailer trashe’.