I was almost rendered blogless...
Airbnb hosting has outdistanced my writing discipline this week. Outdistanced, encompassed, overwhelmed, engulfed…
And you are going to hear all about it...
On Wednesday the pipes blocked in the kitchen sink, the water backwashed into the dishwasher which overflowed, flooding the kitchen floor, which dripped down to the garage knocking out one electric circuit and rapping a mean beat on daughter Dale’s African drum stored below.
Have you noticed that tradies come in matched pairs?
The plumbers arrived in identical tee-shirts. They looked genuinely concerned at pipe joints leaking into buckets. I explained how I undid the pipes to fix the problem myself, until one under the house hosed me with revolting smelly water which meant I had to take a long hot shower and put all my clothes onto the bio-wash cycle.
That, I add, "Is why I called you."
I do a mean job unblocking toilets and fixing gutters but I’d had to admit defeat.
They talk gently about needing expertise, pipe diameters, length, inclines, back pressure, expanding joints. In other words, lady, leave this to us.
They identified the problem - the four googes
“This pipe,” the taller dark-haired one said, tapping it reverently, “Is from the kitchen sink and it is chockablock.” He wrinkles his nose.
I get it. That pipe is jam-packed with gunge, goo, grunge and gloop.
He continues: a high-pressure water blast might clear it but will back up when it hits the end bend and whoosh, all that GGG&G will be atomized over the entire double garage which at the moment is completely taken up with possessions of prodigal daughters. The two young men politely shake their heads: drop sheets, tarps will not help, everything will be sodden – a double garage Armageddon will ensue once they start.
To avoid double-garage Armageddon...
An alternative solution, for a mere $2000 they can replace the pipe painlessly. They will exorcise it, seal it off, cut it out and take it to some non-disclosed bio-hazard waste site where the fatty remnants of three decades of domestic drippings will break down over centuries.
Since it's Friday, they can't do anything until Monday, unless I pay an emergency surcharge...
It seemed an astronomical price to agree for a new piece of pipe especially as I am so good at undoing joints. (It’s just getting them done up again where I need help.) I decline the emergency surcharge….
Enter left DIYIT
That evening, long-standing guest comes in from work. Let’s call him DIYIT as he is good at DIY and IT. DIYIT is a dollars and cents man. He’s a money-saving junkie.
“You know, WE can probably fix it OURSELVES.” He rubs his chin the way men do when they are thinking. “If WE put a plumber’s snake down there, WE would know exactly what was up.”
I have never heard of a plumber’s snake, but my imagination is running riot.
“Less of the WE, I am leaving at sparrows for Kim’s fortieth in the Blue Mountains.”
“What time does Bunnings Hardware open?”
At 6.30 am, we creep out to buy a snake and then I bugger off to the Mountains.
On my return...
When I get home that evening, all the guests are smiling. The sink flows, the dishwasher works. All for $36.30.
"No evidence of any gunge in the pipe at all," says DIYIT, "Not even any grease on the end of the snake and whatever the problem was, it's gone now."
Thank Goodness and Goodnight all...
I am in bed when a new-first-visit-to-Australia-young-female-guest calls – she had the flights wrong and has arrived twelve hours early. She knows I have no room so she will sleep at the airport. I tell her to get on a train while I make up a bed in my office. I go up to the station at midnight, but she is not on the last train. So I message her,
“Where are you now?”
“Who are you?”
“I’m Gill, your host.”
“Ah I am not the girl.”
Followed by a staccato of messages:”
“I lend her my phone to call u"
“I think she told u this is not her number”
“I think u know so why u ask me where I now”
I start to message back. I am getting quite worked up. Messaging strangers, responding to anything remotely controversial on Facebook and road rage are all in the same basket, ultimately self-harm. I am saved from myself when there is a loud rap on my car window and that frightens the bejesus out of me.
A man wants to know if I am an Uber. I pack him off to get a taxi on the Highway. More time passes so I decide to walk around the station to make sure I have not missed new-first-visit-to-Australia-young-female-guest.
Everything is deserted, even the highway, and there is not a soul around except; a man waiting for a taxi. He turns round and he is very excited to see me again and starts running towards me, I flee.
It is now 12.30 am and I am very tired despite the elation that guests can use the sink
and that I have out-run the Uber-doober man;
this is the first time I have lost a new-first-visit-to-Australia-young-female-guest.
I wonder what I should tell Airbnb since officially she hasn't even arrived.
Salt-of-the-earth saves the day
Fifteen minutes later I get a call from a cleaner for Sydney Trains. My guest emerged at the wrong station to an empty street facing a huge graveyard. She had no sim-card, she waited but no traffic passed, no people – her introduction to Sydney just whispering trees and the peaceful dead. So she found a public phone where a notice said IN AN EMERGENCY…
God Bless her, she dialed Triple Zero. God Bless Australia, they told her to hold tight, help was on its way.
Fortunately salt-of-the-earth cleaner, who knows what if feels like to be a foreigner in a strange land, finds her before all three services descend on the station.
White panel van on approach...
The two forlorn figures, staring up the road are clearly disconcerted by the arrival of my clapped-out white panel van.
I’m used to this, guests expect more up-market transport, so I have a well-practiced leap-out - full of bonhomie and unbridled delight. If I were practicing abduction, it would be a good tactic, they stand stock still.
We all hug - a triple hug-fest.
The next day is another day...
I get to sleep about 2 am and set the alarm at 6 am to do battle with the redundant plumbers and write my blog and I’d like to say that that day went according to plan… It didn't but I got lots of hugs from new-first-visit-to-Australia-young-female-guest and at 7 pm, French-departing-guests were popping champagne and celebrating because they were leaving the next day… and they hoped the next place would have plumbing... I wondered if they would take me too.
But I know I’d miss it… the life that I have has taken a lifetime to achieve and I have learned so many skills – and one day I might find a tool to help me do up joints on pipes for now I have a plumber’s snake in my repertoire, I’m set - I think DIYIT and I will need to get matching tee shirts and if all else fails, I know I can dial Triple 000, I understand they are tremendously helpful!
Every girl needs both!