The Revenge of the Sludge

In my last post about a week ago, I lamented the flooding of my bathroom floor via the in-floor drain present in many a Chinese (and Asian) bathroom.

Well, I’m not one to sit around and whine about a problem for long, so I decided to take action. Initially, that meant contacting the school help desk and seeing if they could solve it. Since my complex is a 24/7 serviced apartment, I had to talk to them on my own. The last time, even when my closet pole was fixed, it still bowed in the middle if you so much as hung a camisole on it. I’ve redneck repaired that with some laundry twine and duct tape (bacon-patterned, btw), and now, it fully supports my American-sized wardrobe. One day, I must post duct tape repair pictures from my apartment. Sometimes I think it’s held together by more duct tape than concrete.

But I wouldn’t let this drain beat me. Heck no. I decided to check out the situation myself before talking to the service department. It’s like when I get lost; I’d rather wander in circles and figure out the problem myself before I dare ask anyone for directions. Poor Julie has no idea what she’s in for next week in the winding, twisting medieval streets of Prague. I get lost in a grid pattern like Chicago. This is going to be a game similar to the one where you have to tilt the board to roll the ball through the maze and into its final position.

Tonight I decided I would see what this drain business was all about. I figured it had to be clogged somehow since it always just drained down. My second clue was that the almighty, gut-wrenchingly nasty smell it usually emitted was not coming through after I removed (you probably guessed it!) the duct tape seal from the drain. This duct tape happened to be complementary to my color scheme and was cupcake-patterned for that extra girly touch.

Since the light in my bathroom isn’t all that strong, I got down on the tile with a flashlight. After gingerly pulling off the metal grate with a pair of pliers (a girl’s got to have her own toolbox!) and the plastic overspill cover from underneath that, I carefully edged the flashlight’s LCD beam down into the dark abyss that is my floor drain.

God in heaven, what I saw there was something straight out of a horror movie. It was a bubbling mass of who-knows-what – probably hair, mold, sludge, slimy shampoo and shave gel – you name it. If it gets washed down the sink drain or bath tub drain, it was in one central location, blocking the exit of water down the main drain hub.

I swear that thing was breathing.

I don’t have wire that I can fashion into a hook of sorts to make a drain snake, so I racked my brain for an alternative. As I pass by my kitchen sink en route to my laundry room to nose around in there for a possible solution, I see the pair of chopsticks I’d used for dinner sitting in the dish drain.

Ah ha!

If it’s one thing that is plentiful in China, it’s cheap chopsticks. And, as a champion orderer of takeaway on nights when I’m too lazy to cook, I happen to have stock in cheap wooden chopsticks. I’m already fairly adept at using them as well.

I dug through my miscellaneous kitchen drawer and pulled out a very cheap pair of chopsticks. Wielding them expertly, I once again knelt on the cold bathroom tile, held the flashlight between my teeth, and ever so gingerly pulled out the living, breathing mass of grimy sludge. It kept coming … and coming … and coming … until the slippery mass of disgusting goo pulled free and could be dumped into my waiting trash can.

But then, out of nowhere, the removal of the sludge unleashed the Kraken – the Kraken of absolutely horrifying, stomach-turning, eye-burning stench from the uncleaned drain. Its invisible tentacles twisted terrifyingly into the air of the bathroom, assailing my mouth (opened around the flashlight, thank you), my nose, and my eyes all at once. Mercilessly it surrounded me, pulling me into its dark cavern of awfulness.

Oh. Dear. Heaven.

I threw myself out of the bathroom as fast as I could and scrambled into the kitchen. The only thing that could clear my nostrils was a bag of freshly-ground Starbucks coffee I’d just picked up yesterday. I opened it up and inhaled it over and over again until I could only smell the coffee and not that stench of rotting something.

I brewed a cup of peppermint tea to help my turning stomach and found my face mask before reentering the Temple of Doom, the name by which I shall refer to my bathroom. Indiana Jones never had to put up with this crap!

I quickly disposed of the trash in the main domestic rubbish bin outside my apartment – this included the chopsticks also, in case you were curious – and held the mask to my face as I resealed the Kraken into its dark, dank cave with more cupcake-patterned duct tape. To say I used the vanilla sugar Glade room spray is an understatement; I didn’t just use it. I bathed the room in it, every nook, cranny, and chink of tile. There was not one square millimeter (I can’t say square inch any longer since I’m in the metric world) of space left unscathed in that room after its coating with the aroma of vanilla sugar by Glade.

But, the good news is, I ran the hot water for my sink, and it didn’t back up all over the floor like it had for the last week. However, the next time it requires cleaning, I shall call the professionals, leave them a can of Glade vanilla sugar spray, and tell them to have it whilst I’m on a holiday or something.

Likely as far as I can get from the Temple of Doom.

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