This will be my first blog post about my parents and the lessons they helped me internalize. My parents have had a unique life path: they emigrated from Israel to South Carolina. Being very culturally different from everyone around them meant that they had to figure out their own way of getting things done. Here is just one of many examples of how things get done differently around the Shamah household.
My parents’ house is part of a small neighborhood, however theirs is the only one that sits below the grade of the city’s sewer line. They cannot connect directly to the sewer line. So all the sewage of the house accumulates into this one septic area, and then is ejected to the main city sewage line through a pump in the back yard.
I don’t know if it is the super strength of Charmin toilet paper, or if the pump has just given up on life, but about every two months something gets caught in the pump and the sewage stops being ejected. Which causes the septic area to fill, then the back yard begins be submerged, and finally the bathrooms backs up.
In true Shamah fashion, my father does not call “the guy” to take care of it but rather takes it upon himself (and his children) to empty the septic area, remove the pump, find and remove whatever got caught in the pump, and put it back together. I have helped 5 or 6 times, my much luckier brother has helped about 12 times, and my brother’s friend Gal has helped once (and is now an honorary sibling because of it).
It happened again last week and after helping through the process, I think I finally understand why he does it himself. If you remove the fact that you are dealing with poo, it makes sense to work on the problem immediately and on your own. The longer you wait the more damage it causes, you have the capacity to do it, and it is affecting your ability to function normally right now. So you take control and get it done. “But, you are dealing with poo!” I know. And I am most amazed that my father is not fazed by the work.
In general, my parents don’t seem to have the distractions in life that I sometimes do. I had to get rid of some pride to be able to help with the septic work (Me? Aviv Shamah? Myrtle Beach High School SAT Wall of Famer? Work with sewage?) I don’t think they had time to worry about those things as they learned a language, raised a family, and built a business in South Carolina.
The experience gave me two takeaways. 1) Drop that feeling of entitlement; you can get down and dirty every once in a while. And 2) Don’t put off the things that need to get done now, especially if it makes you uncomfortable. All that being said, I hope I never have to work on the septic pump again, and I plan on buying my father a new pump for his birthday (Surprise Dad!).