In posting my last, I was shocked to find that I hadn’t told you about my wacky plan problem. I went to link to it and, apparently, it’s my secret shame. I don’t like secrets and shame, so here it is:
When I was living on my own without roommates for the very first time, I had this light beige-colored carpet. I was renting a basement apartment in a townhouse, so the landlord could and did drop by without notice. One day, I was cleaning out the refrigerator, and I came across some super-drippy salad, past the point of consuming. I didn’t have a garbage disposal, and I couldn’t imagine carrying drippy garbage across the apartment, up the stairs and out to the trash, so I (don’t judge) flushed it down the toilet.
It seemed logically sound, at the time, but it stopped the toilet right up.
I freaked out. It turned out that the landlady was out of town for the weekend, so I had some time to cover my stupidity. I went to Home Depot and bought some drain cleaner and a pipe snake.
I tried the pipe snake. Nothing. Then the drain cleaner. Nothing.
I called my dad, and said “listen, I know I’m in my mid-20s, and I shouldn’t need you to ride to my rescue anymore, but them are the ropes. Rescue me, please!” And bless him, he drove 90 minutes on no notice to dig his daughter out of the ditch she’d dug for herself.
He couldn’t clear the drain, either (the caustic chemicals I put in there were particularly challenging to get around.) He told me the truth— I was going to have to call my landlady and admit the stupid thing I did, then get a plumber’s number and pay to have the toilet fixed.
The landlady wasn’t mad about the salad, she was mad about the pipe snake (which had scratched the porcelain) after which I had dumped in caustic chemicals. In retrospect, I realized that there were about 43 other ways I could have disposed of the salad without ruining the toilet or the carpeting, but I hadn’t thought long enough about it, and so I picked a bad solution. There’s a scene in a show I loved called “Joan of Arcadia,” where God says to Joan “Don’t blame me for your failure of imagination.” That’s totally what happened there. A failure of imagination, brought on by panic. A.K.A. a wacky plan.
It wasn’t the first wacky plan I’d been guilty of, but it made a real impression.
Awhile later, I was moving into a townhouse with my brother. I was carrying the top of a mini-trampoline down to the unfinished basement, where we were setting up a de facto gym.
The top of the trampoline caught the edge of a stair and wrenched out of my grasp. I watched, horrified, as it bounced down the stairs on its edge and up into the drywall at the bottom, at about eye level, before it fell to the ground.
My brother was at work. I ran down the stairs, and looked at it from the back. Could I patch it and paint it before he got back? Would he be able to tell?
And then, thankfully, everything stopped. I ran to the phone. I don’t call people at work, and he doesn’t have a desk job, but I called him at work.
“K., I’m sorry to call you at work, but I just did something really stupid, and I’ve noticed this pattern that it’s the thing I do right after the really stupid thing that causes me the problem. So I know you’re going to be mad, but I’m going to tell you what happened, and if I don’t cover it up, maybe we can come up with a smarter solution together.” And I told him the story of the mini trampoline, and how it was an accident and I was so sorry and I totally understood why he was going to yell at me.
He stopped me and said “No problem. We’ll look at it when I get home.”
“Wait… you’re not mad?”
“No— you said it was an accident, right?”
“Yeah, but it was pretty stupid, and I don’t know if we’re going to be able to fix it so the landlord can’t tell…”
“We’ll work on it when I get home.”
I hung up the phone, dumbfounded. This particular brother is kind of known for his temper (at least to those who know him well— I’m usually spared, because we’re close, but his annoyance at stupid is pretty epic), especially when you do something dumb and avoidable. I thought maybe he just didn’t want to yell at me from work, but when he came home, we worked it out with no more drama. The landlord never said anything about that (though they were jerks about other things that happened in our short stay there.)
So now, I’m a huge freak. If I feel a wacky plan coming on, I go and spill to the nearest person who can possibly understand how bad the error is, like a woman possessed. They always look at me like the freak I am, and we work it out. I just skip the cover-up and move right to the mea culpas. It’s not going to win you points for “normal,” but I find it lessens the overall pain of the situation, so I highly recommend it.