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Post details: Augean Kitchen

Augean Kitchen

According to the Greek legends, the sixth labor of Heracles involved cleaning up neglected stables of King Augeas, whose herds were as messy as they were numerous. Faced with a daunting, and seemingly impossible task, Hercules demonstrated both brains and brawn by diverting two nearby rivers, the Alpheus and the Peneus, into the stables and turned the scrubbing job into an exercise in Fluid Dynamics. The sheer volume and power of the merged rivers washed the filth away in a way no human effort ever could.

In general, I try to keep my kitchen reasonably clean. You probably should not eat straight from the floor, but anything lying on the counter can be immediately digested without harsh consequences. However, in less accessible corners you can still find niche markets for various hardy germs; you know the kind bred and trained in Germany. If you were a policeman, you could think of them as Organized Grime - the henchmen of Grease Mafia dumping their unwanted bodies. For a while I have been thinking about a large scale attack on this slowly slumping underworld - but you know how it goes, something always gets in the way.

One Sunday evening I noticed that plumbing in the kitchen was showing telltale signs of a well haunted house. The sink would not drain, water would start mysteriously appearing for no apparent reason, and from deep within the plumbing strange noises came, as if a small weasel got stuck in its guts and tried to gargle its way to freedom. Something was seriously amiss.

In the morning I called the office and told them of the problem. A young, mildly awake receptionist answered the phone. I stressed the fact that water appeared in the sink based on my neighbors activity and could overflow at any given moment, which clearly constituted an emergency. The receptionist promised to dispatch a maintenance man shortly. Little did I know that somewhere in the voluminous operational manual of my complex, a clause must have existed stipulating that no situation reported without yelling at 120 decibels per second be considered an emergency. Foolishly, I announced my predicament in a calm voice.

Consequently, when I came back from work, there was no maintenance sign on the door and upon entering the kitchen I found it mostly underwater. A lake of average depth of half an inch was glistening on the floor. The sink was full of water whose origin I did not dare to surmise. There was a minor puddle on the counter, too, leading to a place on the edge where, at some point during the day, a lovely waterfall must have cascaded down. I called again and this time it was personal.

Half an hour later a maintenance specialist showed up at my door armed with a long metallic spiral and a curious drilling device whose apparent purpose was to cram the rusty spiral down the clogged throat of the building's digestive system. And cram he did. He must have reached at least 15 feet into the piping. Deposits of viscous filth started appearing soon. I thought that kind of stuff accrued only at the bottom of Louisiana bayous. They could easily have contained a layer of crude oil. But at the end of the show, the handyman threw them all away. I guess those deposits were not FDIC insured.

But everything bad is good for something. After the guy left, I realized that the standing water did to my kitchen what the two rivers once did to Augean Stables. After roughly 45 minutes of truly herculean effort that culminated in a Hollywood style Lysol Finale, my kitchen was shining like a new penny.

It was still an early evening, so I went about my business and soon forgot about the ordeal. The apartment was dry and clean, the life seemed perfectly trouble free again. I went to bed around 2am and as I was making the final preparations for the tuck-in, I needed to get something from a kitchen drawer. So I went to the kitchen, and when I opened it, I could not believe my eyes - it was filled to the rim with water, which must have hid there in the afternoon on its way from the overflowing sink to the floor. Nothing stimulates your sense of bizarre like opening an innocent wooden drawer and finding two gallons of water merrily splashing between its walls.

It was like in one of those cheap horror flicks about a lake monster. When the miscreation gets finally slain, life goes back to normal, villagers breathe a sigh of relief and farmers return to their fields. In the closing scene, a camera pans over the lake's tranquil waters. Wolves howl in the distance. And then, in the last moment an ominous ripple appears on the surface. Curtain drops. The credits start rolling. And you go home, wondering if a sequel is in the works.


Comment from: Judy [Visitor]
Honza- Your imagery atounds me....can't get enough of your blogs.jj
Permalink 10/22/09 @ 13:00

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