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Thanksgiving – Don’t Let The Turkeys Get You Down

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Cue up the mawkish holiday music.

Most people think of Thanksgiving as a time to give thanks, to spend with family, and to gorge on food. Roto Rooter is especially thankful for Thanksgiving because the holiday gives the company lots of business. According to the Claton Advertiser, “[i]ncoming calls to Roto-Rooter the day after Thanksgiving will jump 47-percent over an average Friday. The four-day Thanksgiving weekend represents a 21-percent increase above any other Thursday through Sunday period of the year. Added revenue will approach a half-million dollars just for Friday. Only the day after Christmas comes close in terms of overall calls for service.”

I watch Ghost Hunters on Sci-Fi. The show is a guilty pleasure. The season ended a couple of weeks ago. The two founders of The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) work at Roto Rooter when they aren’t busting ghosts. I suspect they had to end the show for the season when they did because they’re going to be busy busting drains from now until Christmas. After plumbing season dies down, I’m sure the show will start up again.

The Concord Journal had an amusing story. Don MacDonald, founding owner of A Rooter-Man, said that plumbers occasionally find strange things packing the pipes. “You’d expect it to be turkey, but it was actually lobster,” Papalia said. “This woman put three or four lobster shells down the disposal and they exploded in the pipe. And you know, that seafood doesn’t smell so good.”

In case anyone needs reminding, these are the kinds of things plumbers recommend you not shove down your garbage disposal:

* Fats or cooking oils

* Poultry skins

* Celery

* Coffee grounds

* Fruit or potato peels

* Don’t flush cotton balls, swabs, hair, or facial scrub down the toilet. Also don’t flush underwear down the toilet (keep reading if you just went “whaaaa?”).

Plumbing problems aren’t confined to 2005. Thanksgiving would not be complete without tales such as these:

Thanksgiving – The Most Plumber-ful Time of Year (2003). Imagine the huge clog that results from shoving 20 people’s leftovers into the sink disposal. Plumbers will be busy today, removing banana peels, leftover potatoes, orange rinds, turkey bones, coffee grounds (they plump when you insinkerate ’em), and all sorts of disgusting sludge from people’s sinks.

What doesn’t make it to the sink ends up clogging the toilet. One plumber interviewed remembered when a kid flushed his dad’s Tommy Hilfiger briefs. I bet if the family owned a toilet Dave Barry likes (one that can flush a sheep), it would not have clogged.

“One November Thursday, the Redondo Beach, Calif., plumber arrived at a home where the man had bet his wife $100 that the culprit of their clogged sink was not potato peels. When the drain-clearing snake revealed that it was, indeed, potato peels, the man paid Mr. Gutierrez $100 not to tell his wife.”


Statistics back him up. Last year, the number of plumbing calls jumped 46.4 percent the Friday after Thanksgiving, compared to a typical Friday, according to Paul Abrams, national spokesman for Roto-Rooter. That translates into 865 additional jobs for Roto-Rooter alone, worth about $235,260. Other companies report similar spikes, starting around 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving day.


Patrick Tibets, a Boston-area plumber in the business for 18 years, says one disaster is seared on his mind. “A turkey caught fire,” he recalls. “The flames came up over the stove. When I came in the kitchen the turkey was sitting in the sink, black and smoking. I had to turn the gas off.”

A big Thanksgiving fad, at least last year, was frying turkeys in oil. Emeril Lagasse had done it on his show, and lots of people decided to try it. They got lazy, and didn’t keep an eye on the turkey. Disasters struck.

* [FromTribnet.com, last year.] “The flames were small … until I blew on them. My college roommate, Kathy, and I were cooking our first turkey. It wasn’t going well. Somehow, a chunk of the turkey had broken free and fallen off the pan, through the rack, landed on the electrical element and burst into flames.”

* “The flames shot 10 feet into the air out of the old, rusty barrel smoker in the backyard as we stood dumbfounded. What I’d expected was a nice, quiet first Thanksgiving. Now where was the turkey? I began to have doubts about my husband’s cooking ability.”

* [From Saint Louis Today, last year.] On cooking a turkey in a vat of oil: “The oil boiled over, and it sounded like a cannon,” said Tena Hart, 47, who lives next door from the house with the fire on Sharlane. “By the time I looked out my front door, the flames were 15 feet over the roof of his garage. Then everything caught fire and exploded. His lawn mower. Then his car. Gas cans. It was sort of surreal.”

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Just remember not to flush your Tommy Hilfiger briefs down the john.

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About Trish Wilson

  • Nancy

    LOL – it seems all the turkeys aren’t necessarily the avian kind!

  • Oooh, that’s quite a plumber bill, Ms. Toigo. I save orange rinds, and keep them in the freezer. I put one or two of them in the Insinkerator when I want to freshen the scent of the garbage disposal. I’ve never had a clog because of it, maybe because I use very little orange rind.

    I didn’t know you aren’t supposed to shove coffee grounds in the garbage disposal until I read about it two years ago. I think the problem is that on Thanksgiving you end up with enough coffee grounds for about ten to twenty people. No wonder it clogs up.

    I heard that coffee grounds repel ants. That’s a good thing to know for the summer. 😉

  • Shark
  • A most interesting take on Thanksgiving, Ms. Wilson.

    About 15 or so Thanksgivings ago, I learned the hard way (a lesson that cost me $300) that massive amounts of potato peelings will destroy a garbage disposal.