The Snake Charmer
Great moments in building history: How the work of a Roto-Rooter man made a TV dance
About two years ago, my best friend Jerry traveled from Santa Cruz, Calif., to his mother’s home in San Jose to take care of a plumbing emergency. The sewer drain lines had clogged, so Jerry arranged to meet the Roto-Rooter man at the house to have the drain line cleared.
Jerry’s mother still lives in the old family house (although she’s now there with a caregiver), and she spends most of her day sitting in her bedroom watching an old TV on a spindly legged table with casters. Since he’d made the trip to San Jose to monitor the drain repair, Jerry decided to work on some small projects around the house. As he was moving from one project to the next, he walked past his mother’s room and saw the TV twirling and waltzing across the floor until it crashed into a wall. The area is known for its proximity to the San Andreas Fault, but Jerry was sure he didn’t feel or hear an earthquake.
He took a quick walk around the house to see if any other large objects had become possessed with the desire to dance around. As he walked past the bathroom, Jerry saw the Roto-Rooter man casually threading a line down the hole from where he had pulled the toilet and was trying to reach the main line at the street.
Unknown to the repairman, the wily drain snake had made an upturn instead of a downturn and ultimately had threaded its way onto the roof through one of the vent pipes. When Jerry went outside to continue his investigation, he found the source of the music that was making the TV dance. On the roof, undulating like a serpent being charmed out of a basket, the drain snake had snagged the television cable from the roof antenna. The snake was wrapping it up snugly—and pulling tight on the line connecting to Jerry’s mother’s TV set. Needless to say, Jerry raced back into the house and alerted the Roto-Rooter man. The repairman promptly climbed up to the roof, untangled the mess, and then, with Jerry standing in the front yard watching the roof, redirected the snake down into the drain sections to attend to the cleanout instead of seeking fresh air and freedom through the vent pipe.
Then Jerry called a TV repairman to thread a new cable line from the bedroom to the roof antenna.
Drawing by: Jackie Rogers