Saturday, October 13, 2018

My Garbage disposal is indisposed

[Editor's Note: The following story is true. Mostly true. Okay, somewhat-but-not-too-greatly embellished. Names have been changed to protect the incompetent.  Any resemblance to someone you know is purely accidental. No garbage disposals were harmed in the following account. Well, not too much, anyway.]

"What is that?" you ask.


No, really, it’s an award-winning photograph looking down the maw of my voracious garbage disposal. Only I haven’t really won any awards with the picture. I keep hoping Better Homes and Gardens will see it.

Anyway, my garbage disposal is indisposed, is no longer voracious, and therefore I am, well, disposing of it. In a moment of inexplicable madness, I decided to do the job myself. I never learn. 

It doesn’t help my confidence when Step #1 tells me to use a qualified installer. Oh well. At least one-twentieth of the instructions are in English—surely this can’t be too hard! I can do this, even if it does have seventy-four steps and a release of legal liability I need to sign. No sweat.  

I convince myself that the hardest part of the task will be getting to the disposal. The valuable contents under my kitchen sink would probably fill two Mayflower moving vans. Okay, I’m exaggerating a little—the contents aren’t really that valuable.

Anyway, I am psyching myself up for this job. I want to see how long it takes me, so I’m setting the calendar app on my phone to time myself. Not sure whether I should choose the “week” display or the “month” display. I’m optimistic, so I’ll choose “week.” Ready, set GO!

Oh, brother. The first problem is Mandy. As I’m trying to unload the contents under the sink into a spare 40’ shipping container on the driveway, Mandy wants to explore. Under the sink. Go away, cat!

I removed enough glass vases to stock a flower shop well into the 22nd century. Some of those vases were big enough to plant a large sapling in. If you need any glass vases, give me a call. I’ll pay you to take ‘em.

There were enough cleaning supplies under there to sanitize Love Canal. Oh, wait, most of you probably aren’t old enough to get that reference. Never mind.

When I finally wheeled away the stuff that was stored under my sink I had enough room to chase down the little troll that lives under there. I boxed his ears and told him to go live in the basement drain. 

Wait, sorry, overactive imagination. There is no troll under my sink. But there are probably a few orcs under there. . . .

As I get deeper into this complex job, the number of tools on the jobsite grows. I later discovered that I didn't need the shovel. But I have a feeling I might need the crowbar. For . . . something.

See this little guy right here. He’s crucial for the job. He’s also a little life-threatening, especially if you happen to be a certified jack-leg (which I am). You see, there’s this little collar that holds your disposal up to the bottom of the sink. The little funny-shaped wrench is what you use to turn the collar and release the disposal.

I figured that after sitting there disposing of garbage since the 1960’s, that little collar would be frozen solid. So I wormed around, contorting my 6’2” frame into a space designed for one of the Seven Dwarfs, put that wrench on that collar and applied some real potatoes to it (you know, like enough to open a file drawer). That baby's got to be frozen solid.

Nope. That ol' garbage disposal came down like a satellite reentering the earth’s atmosphere. I wasn't ready for it. It crashed into the (rotten) cabinet floor and I was sure it would keep going all the way into the basement, and crush the poor troll (who by this time, had wisely relocated to where he thought he would be out of harm’s way). (Guess again, sucker!)

Anyway, glad it didn't hit me on the way down. Whew! After playing dodge-ball with the old disposal, I discovered this in the new disposal's box. Wish I'd seen it earlier.

Finally, got the flotsam and jetsam cleaned up. Discovered a significant fact in cleanup: did you know that when you’ve disconnected all the plumbing under your double sink, and then run some water to assist with cleanup, that water doesn’t go where you think it’s gonna go—even if you run it into the side that didn’t have the indisposed disposal?

After cleaning up the mess and having survived heavy fallen objects and other artifacts of ineptitude, I am finally ready to install the new disposal.  I look at my timer. Good! The calendar page hasn’t flipped yet! We're still in the same week! After shooing Mandy off the instructions I dive in. Hmm. I wonder what plumber’s putty is?

Finally get most all the pieces parts in their proper place (I am ignoring the ones remaining—obviously the manufacturer must have shipped spares). It is now time for the big moment. Somehow I need to lift this ninety-pound disposal with only one hand while laying on my back and using the other hand to guide it into place, while I use my OTHER hand to tighten the little ringy thing that keeps the whole assembly from falling on me (like a satellite reentering—you remember). This is the other place where that funny little wrench comes into play.

Wait. I’ve just got two hands, and neither (nor both together) can lift this boat anchor into place whilst on my back.

Houston, we have a problem.

This requires some thought.

The final solution (disturbing phrase, that) was to wedge myself under the cabinet with the disposal resting on my knee (glad I’ve been running—plenty of strength there), and leverage it up with my knee while my two hands guide the beast into place and turn that bloomin' collar, desperately trying to prevent the monster from duplicating the reentry descent of the old one.

It worked. Whew. The disposal is secure.

Now for the electrical. This I can do, no problem, as soon as I figure out why some wires are white and the others black. Do opposites attract? Or is it birds of a feather? Oh whatever! Just hook ‘em up and worry about color later . . .  

After much weeping and gnashing of teeth, interspersed with multiple trips to Lowes, a few calls to my psychiatrist, and totally redoing the plumbing under the sink, I finish the task. Probably not in record time, though. Doesn't matter. My disposal disposes. That's what counts.