A couple of nights ago, I decided to cook a large pot of pea soup with all of the fixings. This takes a couple of hours to cook, and involves much chopping and preparation of ingredients, but on the flip side the soup contains lots of things I should eat, and I can make lunches out of it for some days thereafter. I started the process by putting a pot of water with the peas and spices on the stove to boil.
As I was stirring the pot on the stove, I heard a glorpy sort of sound from the kitchen sink behind me. Turning, I saw that both halves of the sink were about one-third full of goopy gray-blue water, and the level was rising.
Oh, wonderful. I'm on the ground floor of a three-story building, and the kitchen pipes of our "stack" are in common, so if the common pipes below me clog, I get the mess from my upstairs neighbors without them even knowing it happened. And unfortunately, the piping in this building seems to clog up about once a year.
Having been through this before, I knew what to do. I called the complex management company's night-emergencies number, explained the situation, and within an hour -- I know because the soup needs to simmer for an hour and was still on heat when he arrived -- a plumber from the company that serves this complex turned up. I kept my soup on the simmer, although I couldn't do the chopping and other prep becuase I needed to wash vegetables, and I didn't want to put more water down that sink anyway.
Fortunately, the water never rose above half-full in the sink, and it slowly drained away so that by the time the plumber arrived, there was only the residue to prove that it had been there. By then, I had cleared out everything from under the sink to make room for the plumber to do his job.
And it turned out to be more work than he expected, taking close to an hour to clear the obstructions in the line. When my soup had simmered long enough, I briefly popped in and turned off the heat, but otherwise I stayed clear of the kitchen and let him work. Eventually, after much application of equipment, the lines cleared and we will probably be good for another year or so. The plumber cleaned things up quite nicely, including leaving the sinks cleaner than they were before the backup started, and went on his way.
I then returned to my cooking, but the delay was a pain. Normally I do the chopping and preparation during the hour while the peas are simmering. And it takes another 30 minutes or so once I've added the carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, and chopped ham before the soup is ready. And then another hour or so to cool down before I feel comfortable refrigerating it. Net result was that I didn't get done until after 1 AM.
Fortunately, as the problem was in the common pipes, not my apartment, I won't be charged for the call -- it's something that the condominium association has to pay, so it's included in the condo dues. The building-management company even called the next day to confirm that the plumber had showed up and fixed the proplem.