About a month after I moved into my new house, I noticed my garbage disposal was leaking. A few weeks after that, I bought a new garbage disposal to install. Just ten short months later, this past Monday, I finally decided, “Today is the day, Nicole. Today is the day you install your brand new garbage disposal after contemplating its existential nature for 280 days.”
It was the perfect day for such a chore. Tropical Storm Colin was making his presence felt. I was too sunburned to work out, and I wanted to get the installation completed before my sister-in-law came to visit in about a week. Confidently, I opened the instructions, loaded an instructional YouTube video, and set about what I thought would take an hour. Two (days?), tops.
I’ve undertaken several small home improvement projects since buying this house. So far, I’ve electrocuted myself only once. On my birthday last year, my water heater decided my garage needed a swimming pool, so in a polka dotted dress as my friends gathered at my favorite taco joint, I squatted down in the bushes in the front yard, braved the fire ants, and turned off the water supply to my house using a wrench and pure grit.
Why didn’t I just turn the valve on the hot water heater, you ask? That’s the fun part. The contracted plumber who installed the tank did so backwards, so turning the valve did nothing to stop the flow of water. That was a fun surprise. Hooray for shoddy McMansion homebuilding.
Which brings us to the garbage disposal. I removed the old one like a boss. Then I borrowed Plumber’s Putty from my neighbor because that’s a thing you need and I totally knew that. Then my boyfriend took time away from work to help me and smashed his head against the cabinet. Then we met his friends for dinner, and on the way home, bought the plug and plug holder that didn’t come with the garbage disposal because why would they? That’s like buying a frying pan to discover the handle isn’t included. Later I figured out I could’ve just used the old cord and let it hang down without securing it through the thread hole, but I don’t learn lessons without spending money. That’s not my style, friends.
I was frustrated but undeterred. Once I had all the parts, I’d pop that sucker right in and write a blog about what a home improvement badass I am.
I rewired the new cord without electrocuting myself, which was a definite win. All that was left was hanging the damn thing, hook and power. I hung the damn thing. I connected the dishwasher. I put in the pipe . . . and it didn’t fit.
Much like the hot water tank, the garbage disposal was improperly installed, which probably explains the leak. Turns out I didn’t need to buy a hundred dollar disposal, twelve dollar cord and cord key, and wake up in the morning and hit my shin on the old disposal so hard I scared the cat under the bed for an hour. I don’t exactly know why the plumber who built the place put everything in backwards. My guess is the public school system in South Carolina is somehow to blame.
This was supposed to be a blog of triumph. Just the day before, I helped my friend Sarah change a flat tire. About a month ago, after I wrecked my boyfriend’s car, I helped him jack it up and forcibly remove the broken shield. I’ve learned to professionally hang everything from shelves to corner shelves, I’ve rewired outlets, fixed a toilet, and had a nervous breakdown trying to drain the old gasoline from my lawn mower. I’m Team Andretti’s pit crew. I’m Bob Vila. But with my kitchen a shambles and a hole in the sink, I had to tuck my tail between my legs and walk two doors down to ask Scott the Plumber to help me.
Turns out I lacked two more things I needed. A three dollar pipe and a hacksaw. We piped. We hacksawed. The garbage disposal installation was complete. Though I was relieved, I was disappointed in myself. This was one I really wanted to finish on my own. I know the reason why I procrastinated so long was because I knew in my heart something was going to go wrong, something would stand between me and what would be the greatest accomplishment of my life: small appliance installation.
I guess I’ll have to accomplish something else, like write the Great American Novel or learn to sew a button.
In the end, the new garbage disposal was a resounding success. I didn’t have to pay anyone except in cookies that I gave to my neighbor for his help. Which also gave me the opportunity to eat cookie dough for breakfast. I should’ve made that my plan all along.