Years ago, I had trouble with my septic system. If you’ve ever had that kind of trouble, you know what kind of trouble it can be.
I was living in my old farmhouse out in the middle of the woods and had no idea where the sewage went until it suddenly went nowhere. That’s when I called the septic guy.
The house (and presumably the septic tank) was 100 years old, and I had never had occasion to get overly curious about where the septic tank was or exactly how it worked — until it didn’t.
The septic guy located the tank and then made what I thought was a shocking comment. “There’s another one here somewhere,” he announced, and headed off into the woods, looking for another septic tank cover.
“There are two septic tanks?” I asked, confused.
“At least,” he said.
“Isn’t that unusual?”
“Not at all, I’ve seen up to five!”
“Five septic tanks?”
“Yup” The septic guy was now searching through the underbrush like a hunter stalking his quarry. He smiled broadly. “The septic business is always an adventure,” he said.
I had honestly never thought of it that way.
Yesterday we had a somewhat similar situation under our feet. Fortunately, this one did not involve sewage, but only the floor — which has been getting worse by the day.
The humidity has gotten the better of the inexpensive engineered wood flooring installed by the fellow who flipped the condo before selling it to us. The damage started out as a buckle in the hallway, spread to some ripples in the kitchen, and is now making its way across the living room like furrows in a freshly plowed field. My husband, Peter, has had it.
“I don’t even like the color,” he said, looking out over the rippling black landscape. “I think we should rip it all out.”
And so yesterday a nice flooring man named Hayden came to visit. Hayden tut-tutted in what I thought was an appropriate way when he saw the ridges running the length of our floor.
“What’s underneath it?” Hayden wanted to know. Like my old septic system, it had never occurred to me to investigate.
“Rip it up,” Peter told him. “We’re getting rid of it anyway.” Hayden grabbed a chunk of the engineered wood and pulled.
“Parquet,” Hayden said.
“Excuse me?” I didn’t know what Hayden said, but it certainly couldn’t have been “parquet.”
“There’s parquet flooring underneath,” Hayden said, pulling off another board so we could see. “And it looks like it’s in pretty good shape, except for the paint they dripped on it.”
Peter and I stared at the beautiful oak parquet hidden beneath the dreadful rippling flooring. So now Hayden will be refinishing the parquet floors we never knew we had.
That evening, I talked to Vern, the guy at the front desk. He remembers Elizabeth, who owned our condo from the year it was built until she died last year. She was a character, and a bit of a hoarder, but apparently a wonderful person. “I’m betting she threw down carpet on that parquet and forgot all about it,” Vern said.
Today I’m grateful that Elizabeth never got around to remodeling, grateful the flipper was too lazy to remove the old flooring before he put in the new, grateful that Peter got sick enough of the growing bumps to do something about them. I keep going back to the hole Hayden ripped in the floor and looking at that lovely parquet hidden just beneath the surface all this time.
There are adventures everywhere, and not just in the septic business.