W5D1 Hubris

As always, the plan was simple. Go to the hardware store, get the right tool, fix the problem. Boom. Done.

The drain in the bathroom here has been running slower and slower. Even a short shower leaves water almost ankle deep, which takes several minutes to completely drain. There are two people living here who have long hair. The math is easy.


Remember to take the real part of the equation in the last step or everything goes topsy-turvy.

The solution is, of course, to buy one of these nifty gadgets, the Zip-It.


You simply stick it down the drain, pull out a squirrel-sized hunk of hair cemented together with hair products, and *poof* the water swirls down the drain.

So that is what I decided (with my hostess’s permission) to do. It was a nice evening here, so I took myself down the hill (second time today – I am getting better) to the hardware store. One of the nice things about living in the city is that hardware stores stay open later. I’m not talking about Home Depot (there are none near by – 4 miles is a long way in the city when you don’t have a car). DT Hardware (don’t go to the website – that site is actually for a company in Guangdong province in China – I’ve submitted a correction to Google. I submitted a different correction earlier this summer, and it was in place within a couple of hours. So cool.) over on 231st Street is open until 8. The store is narrow and deep, like many of the other stores and delis in that area. On the other hand, it is very tall, and every single inch of wall space was covered with hardware of all kinds, nuts, bolts screws, washers, gizmos, whatsits, doohickeys, thingummies, and most importantly, a Zip-It tool.

I bought it (only $4) and brought it home. As I climbed the middle set of stairs that leads from Cannon Place up to our courtyard, I heard a voice behind me say, “Hi, Joe.” It was Renee, the other AirBnB guest staying for the summer. She is a Physics/Computer science major at Stanford, and is working as an intern this summer. She was just getting back from the gym. She saw the tool in my hand, and said, “Good idea.” She has been taking shorter showers so as not to fill the tub too deep.

She was about to take a shower, so I suggested that if she waited a few minutes, I’d have the tub unclogged, and she would be able to take a “real shower”. Ha!

I will say I tried valiantly. I removed the cover on the drain and reached in with the Zip-It. I was able to remove some hair using my new tool, but I knew it wasn’t enough to unclog the drain. You really have to get the squirrel sized chunk. I added some water to see what effect I had. To my horror, the water did not go down at all. I thought maybe the actual drain mechanism itself was causing the problem. I could hear the Zip-It banging into it, so I removed the the drain lever assembly, and used the Zip-It tool down that opening. I got more hair, but no water moved.

By now I was starting to panic a bit. “I need a better tool”, and by better, I mean longer. I unraveled a wire coat hanger from my room, and tried that. It was about eight inches longer. No go. I combined the tools, wrapping the wire around the handle of the Zip-It tool, and put it down the drain as far as I dared, afraid that the Zip-It tool would become unattached to the hanger and get stuck in the drain. No go.

Finally, I grabbed the good old toilet plunger and plunged. That was largely ineffective, because the overflow drain pipe prevented the water from getting any substantial pressure. It did loosen up some gunk though, which flowed back into the tub. It’s pretty gross in there.

That’s where I gave up. I reassembled the level and drain cover, and my hostess texted the building super. She thought he might come tomorrow. I’ve basically been hiding in my room ever since.

I snuck out once to use the bathroom, and there was more water in the tub, so I suspect Renee snuck in to get a quick shower. Sorry, Renee.

So that’s where we were, up to about 5 minutes ago. I can hear someone working in the bathroom, and it sounds like they have a real plumber’s snake. Yep, definitely some real tools in there. Whoever it is is working hard. Naturally, nature is calling me.

Update: I hear lots of water running in the tub. Maybe this is a good sign.

2nd update (20 minutes later): I just heard an unfamiliar voice, “Oh, man.” I’m just going to hold it.

Read the comments for further updates!



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