Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Plumbing Nightmare

So a few days ago I got out of the shower to find a lake in my bathroom that extended out into the hallway. I got out, mopped it up and because I wasn't sure where it leaked out of, I dumped the water outside. A few minutes later I flushed the toilet and not only did water back up into the tub, but it started coming out the bottom of the toilet onto the floor. Great. So I mopped that up and dumped it in the bathtub. Again, water started coming out around the base of the toilet. OK, there's clearly a problem here.

Now, I live in government housing and we have a housing office and workers that take care of these sorts of things so it shouldn't be a problem, right? I was able to track down several phone numbers for the housing office, the security office, and the housing manager's cell phone from a friend but of course none of them worked. This was a Saturday afternoon and there is only 1 bathroom in each of the houses over here, so that made the rest of the weekend something to really look forward to. Luckily, I have friends who live on my street and if worse came to worse, I could use one of their bathrooms. I dumped a ton of Drain-O down the tub and that was enough to help me limp through Sunday. Monday morning as soon as the housing guys opened up (they are located 2 houses down from me) I went over and explained my problem. The housing manager said he could have someone come over this afternoon so I told them I'd be back at 2pm to meet them.

That afternoon three housing guys showed up and I told them my story. The main guy, Joe, agreed that there was a problem somewhere in the pipes and said we need to find where the sewer line comes out of my house. Only one problem...the plumber, of which there is only one that works for housing, is off-island. Apparently he was flown out last night (Sunday) to Hawaii due to an eye injury. And only the plumber knows where the sewer lines come out since he's the one with the maps, so they'd have to just start digging using their best guess. And so they did...they started ripping up all the asphalt on both sides of my house. They cut up my driveway with a saw, ripped out my bushes on the other side of my driveway hoping to find it out there, dug up a bunch of dirt, and out back they ripped up a 3 foot by 2 foot hole where they finally found an old rusty sewer pipe. And what did they do when they found that pipe? Well they busted it out of course. Just jammed it with a big crow-bar and knocked a 2 foot long section of it right out. Did I mention that none of them are plumbers?!?

It gets better. At this point there are now about 20 housing guys at my house all standing around watching because you can't just have one guy working, you need several others who do nothing but stand around, or pull your chairs out of your house so they can sit around, smoking, and watching. One of the guys who showed up told me that their boss called them when he realized that this was going to be a big job and told them to come over. Apparently, they had quit working at 1:30pm (like they always do) and were over in one of the other houses drinking when the boss called. So they all piled their drunk asses into the government truck and drove to my place. Fantastic...let's drive drunk over to one of the AG's houses.

I was outside with the puppies on their leashes watching this madness unfold at my place when the same guy who told me they were "partying" wanted to hold Suka's leash. He asked me all the typical questions--how long have I been here, how do I like it, am I engaged? Up to this point I've always told the truth to that last one. No more. I was talking to this guy for about 10 minutes before Joe told me that they wouldn't be able to finish the job tonight and would have to come back tomorrow. As I tried to pry Suka's leash away from this other guy he got closer and closer to me. Here, people say hello and goodbye alot with a side kiss on the cheek, and it looked like he was leaning in to do that but instead he grabbed me by both of the shoulders and said "give me a kiss." As I turned my head to the side and he said "no, a real kiss" and began to pull me in like Great Aunt Ethyl with her bright orange lipstick would do to her 4 year old nephew. In astonishment, I yelped "no!" and was able to turn my head and only walk away with his grimey alcohol smelling kiss on the cheek. WTF?!? I mean, seriously!

Anyway, the next morning Joe showed back up and continued to dig up the big hole out back where they had previously busted out a section of the sewer line. He ran some water in my kitchen sink for about 20 or 30 minutes and it poured out the broken line into the dirt. Then he cut a piece of PVC pipe and stuck it over the two exposed ends and cemented it in. No snaking of the pipe to clear the obstruction. Just bust out a section of pipe, run some water, patch it up, and cement it in. That's plumbing in American Samoa.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I came down here to American Samoa to get away from the drama and pressure of working in the District Attorney's Office back home. But it seems that drama is everywhere. Right now, the Attorney General's Office is caught up in a nightmare of a public relations scandal. One of the Assistant Attorney General's in our office recently filed 24 felony counts against 4 staff members in our office for embezzeling. Three of the defendants were transferred to another division of the office, the fourth resigned, and the attorney who filed the charges against them was fired. Makes sense, right? Then, when our office tried to get the court to appoint an independent prosecutor, which the law mandates, the cases were dismissed. Awesome. And while the rumor mill runs rampant across the schoolyard that is American Samoa, our office remains silent. No press releases, no PR damage control, not even an in-office meeting with the attorneys and staff to say this is what is going on. Nothing. It is unbelievable.

Here are just a few of the articles in the Samoa News about it:
AG sacks lawyer who filed charges in alleged CI scam
Ward nixes move for dismissal in alleged CI scam;AG says there is no intention by his office not to prosecute case
Independent Prosecutor Law hasn't been okayed by Interior; Ward: There has to be a way to depoliticize prosecutions or the feds will step in
Alleged CI Scam Case Dismissed

And some of the letters to the editor:

I swear it's like I'm working for the mob. I'm waiting to wake up one morning with a horse's head in my bed.