A Backed-Up Sewer
Created a Parable

It was an ordinary day until my next-door neighbor rang my doorbell. He wanted to know whether the water in my sinks and toilets had backed up. I told him all was well. It was then that I noticed the local Roto-Rooter truck was in my driveway.

My neighbor told me that the Roto-Rooter guy was trying to clean out my sewer line. I didn’t understand why he was working on my line when I wasn’t having any problem with sewage backup. As it turned out, when my house was built, the builder tied my neighbor’s sewer line to mine to save a couple of dollars.

I still didn’t grasp why my neighbor’s drains and toilets were overflowing in his house and not mine. I had noticed occasionally that a utility sink drained more slowly. That was the only trouble that I had once and a while.

The Roto-Rooter guy failed to clean out the sewer line. The following person to show up was a from Utility Services.

He drained my sewer line to the street and sent a camera through the sewer. The camera would determine my neighbor’s problem, which I wasn’t experiencing. The camera discovered two answers related to each other.

One was that my home was a few inches higher than the neighbor’s house. Water will seek the lowest level, and so will sewage. The other reason was that a couple of years ago when the subdivision replaced all the sewers, the contractor hadn’t connected my line to the newer one. I guess that it saved him a couple of dollars. Over the last couple of years, my line finally couldn’t dispose of any more sewage. That was the cause of my neighbor’s problem.

The next task was to connect my sewer line to the newer subdivision’s line. The following day, the first 25% of my driveway was removed. Ginger was the superintendent of all the repairs.

Then a worker connected my sewer line to the new one and started to backfill the six-foot hole.

Then a large backhoe completed filling the rest of the hole.

Early the following day, a concrete truck arrived to finish the task by pouring concrete on my driveway.

Therefore, the storyline of this essay is about two companies that wanted to save a couple hundred dollars. They did so by not following some simple rules. They were successful in saving a little money. In the long run, that savings actually cost them over $20,000. They were penny wise and dollar foolish. Those companies skirted some straightforward rules because they thought some of the rules weren’t necessary.

As I wrote this essay, I remembered teaching a college class a couple of years ago. Several students hadn’t done well during the semester. When I spoke to each of them about getting docked for not following a handful of simple rules, they said they didn’t deem those rules to be necessary.

The next time someone questions several rules in the class, I will tell them this parable.