What you are about to read (or hear), Dear Reader, was originally published in my newspaper column in June of 2011. A friend recently reminded me of this story and asked to tell it again. So I obliged.
It’s been fifteen years since we built our house. Since our old home sold before my husband even had time to design our new home, we purchased a trailer and lived in it for eleven months. Needless to say, all our “stuff” from the big ole’ farmhouse did not fit into the trailer. It was challenging. (Not to mention, we realized we had too much stuff!) We went from a two-bathroom home to a one-bathroom trailer. The bathroom was roughly the size of a postage stamp and even though the children were only 4 and 2, it was a chore for our entire family to simultaneously complete our morning grooming. (A first world problem, I acknowledge.)
The bathroom was carpeted with shaggy 1987 rust pink carpet and even though we steam-cleaned that carpet numerous times, it’s best if I don’t let my imagination run too wildly and think about what had happened on that carpet before we took possession of the trailer. Like most trailers of that era, the biggest bedroom was at the end of the trailer, followed by a bowling alley hallway which contained the tiny bathroom and two miniscule bedrooms. The alley opened up into the living room attached to the kitchen. These details will give you a better visual image later in the story, Dear Reader.
We had a very competent Amish crew of framers who were building our home that summer, In fact, I called them, “Eddie and the Framers.” We would often laugh at one of the younger builders. He enjoyed singing at the top of his lungs from the top of our new roof. I didn’t mind it too much as I washed dishes in my trailer and listened to the builder serenade me from our new home. However, when Eddie, the builder in charge, would leave, the younger builder’s songs suddenly took on a whole different flavor. This is a genre which not only offended me, but I am certain would be frowned upon by the entire Amish community.
I could deal with the unsavory lyrics, but what really tripped me up with the framing crew was my bathroom. One spring day after the framers had taken their lunch break one of the Amish workers knocked on my trailer door. Usually the foreman, Eddie, was the only one to communicate with me, so I thought it strange to see a different worker. He spoke, “May I use your bathroom?” What’s a woman to say? Go behind the barn! Hold it! Ask my neighbor! Trying to be nice and polite I responded, “Of course.” What followed was something close to an avalanche.
Daily, immediately after lunch, I would have the “It’s time to go to the bathroom line.” I didn’t feel I could say no to the poor chaps, but let’s just say the hallway bowling alley was not long enough to protect me and my children from the odoriferous endeavors of the framing crew! In plain English . . . those boys were stinking up my trailer!
This went on for a few days until the day one of the workers came running down the bowling alley. I flew into survival mode and I guarantee you, he may have gotten to me, but Mama Bear was poised and ready to protect her little cubs. He stood in my living room and yelled, “The toilet’s overflowing!” I responded, “Did you turn it off?” (OK, Dear Reader, that might have been the dumbest question I could have possibly asked because how much experience has an Amish man had with indoor plumbing?) He told me he didn’t know how to turn the toilet off, and I told him in no uncertain terms to get that toilet turned off NOW!
He quickly exited the trailer and what I found as I entered my postage stamp bathroom was a sight that shall forever be seared in my brain.
That sight and that smell were so incredibly appalling words cannot even begin to describe it. So what did I do? I did what I do in every “emergency” situation. I ran down the bowling alley to the living room and called my husband at work!
Next Wednesday, if the Lord allows, please tune in to hear or read the conclusion of the toilet trailer story.