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Special Snowflake, the Garbage Disposal and the Pumpkins – Oh my!

We have known Special Snowflake (SS) for almost twenty years. She is a nice person but careless in her words and actions which unfortunately has cost her some relationships in the past. This is one such story.

DH, DD and I have hosted an annual pumpkin carving party for friends and neighbors for the past five years. This year SS and her family were able to join us for the first time, as SS had moved away upon marrying her DH and it coincided with an open weekend on their calendar. We hosted SS and family for the duration of their stay.

During the course of the evening, SS stated that she wanted to bake pumpkin seeds. She collected the pulp of all the pumpkins and disappeared inside to make her pumpkin seeds. Party was a success. Guests all have a great time. Everyone turns in for the night. Fast forward to the next morning, SS pokes her head in our bedroom to tell us they are leaving and by the way, our laundry room had flooded overnight.

DH immediately hops out of bed and goes downstairs to assess the situation. The laundry room floor had flooded at some point during the night but most of the water had recessed into the floor drain. DH gets out the wet vac, starts slurping up the remaining water, then for good measure, removes the floor drain’s cover, and sticks the wet vac’s nozzle down the drain. The floor drain is packed with pumpkin pulp; SS had dumped the pulp of sixteen pumpkins down our garbage disposal. DH calls the local plumber and makes an appointment for the next day (DH is a master electrician, he doesn’t do well with water – it’s his natural enemy). Plumber arrives on schedule and has to snake the drain three times to clear the pumpkin pulp.

SS calls later in the week to see if we found what caused the flooding, and I told her the culprit was the pumpkin pulp. Her response was, “Oops, my bad. Plumbing problems suck don’t they?,”  and then switched topics.

What say you, eHellions? Is it rude not to offer to pay for all or at least part of the repair? What do you do in these situations, as either party?  1203-15

{ 124 comments }

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  • stacey October 27, 2016, 5:50 am

    Hosts pay for damages caused by houseguests. It’s one of the hazards of entertaining. However, forcing large quantities of muck into your plumbing system qualifies as sabotage, not accidental damage. Pay the bill. Ditch the friend, permanently.

  • LeeLee88 October 27, 2016, 6:24 am

    It’s crazy rude to not at least offer to help, but it doesn’t surprise me that she didn’t, because she’s the same jerk who dumped pounds and pounds of pumpkin goop down your disposal. Next time she calls, tell her that she needs to pony up half the cost for the plumber visit, and when she balks (and she will), let her know that that’s a-okay, but you sure as heck won’t be having her as a guest again until she’s grown up.

  • Marie October 27, 2016, 6:30 am

    Tough one. SS direct actions may have caused the flooding, but it was OP that hosted a pumpkin party, and didn’t keep track of what happened to the pulp. SS may not have known she shouldn’t put the pulp down the drain, and OP could have prevented this by keeping an eye on what she did or mention to please use garbage bags to get rid of the pulp when she left with it. She didn’t take the pulp without OP’s knowledge and I do believe it was an honest mistake because her actions suggest she simply wanted to clean up after herself.

    However, during the Phone call it would have been decent to offer to pay (part of) the bill, or at least send flowers as an apology. Her response was not ok.

    I have no idea how stupid this idea was by the way, garbage disposals are not allowed where I live, so all garbage goes in bags and gets picked up weekly (food/plants are put in biodegradable bags to spare the environment).

    • Vic October 27, 2016, 11:11 am

      “OP could have prevented this by keeping an eye on what she did”

      Presumably, the SS is older than 5. The OP had every right to assume that the houseguest didn’t need adult supervision, and had attained enough common sense over her lifetime to know you can’t put pounds of pumpkin pulp down a garbage disposal without consequences. Also, in my experience, when something goes into the garbage disposal that shouldn’t be there, the drain starts backing up immediately. So, I’ll bet the SS could tell she was causing problems before it got to the point of causing damage and just kept shoveling in the pulp. My guess is she realized she bit off more than she could chew when she took all of the pulp to begin with and was trying to dispose of the evidence so she wouldn’t be asked about it. My advice is to let the SS know that what she did was unacceptable and you’ll no longer be hosting her unless she pays for the damages she caused. Frankly, I wouldn’t host her again regardless.

    • Tracy P October 27, 2016, 11:59 am

      To get an idea of how stupid this was: Clean the innards out of a pumpkin. Now multiply it by 16. Does it look like a home plumbing system could handle that? Regardless of chopping it up, that’s a large mass of sticky/tangling stuff.

      The OP was busy keeping an eye on the rest of her party, she didn’t have the ability to babysit the SS while she did her own thing that wasn’t part of the party. And like the OP, I would assume that you don’t need to tell an adult to put the trash in the trash. Its obvious.

      That said, I don’t think that SS is an accurate description. This person is just clueless. I would consider the cost of the repair a lesson learned and never invite the clueless one again.

    • Amanda H. October 27, 2016, 11:28 pm

      This is why our garbage disposal is for the small food bits that end up in the sink normally, not for large amounts of food trash that should be thrown away. We actually use an old plastic ice cream bucket to hold food trash so it gets thrown out earlier (or in the compost once we get a composter) because if it goes in our kitchen trash can it tends to sit long enough to attract fruit flies. If you’re shoving large amounts of pulp or whole chunks of food into the garbage disposal, you’re doing it wrong (and doing your plumbing a huge disservice).

    • Lenore October 28, 2016, 1:08 am

      Here in South Africa we don’t have garbage disposals, but even *I* know you don’t throw a great big pile of anything goopy down there! Alas, you do get some people where if it doesn’t affect them directly, they just don’t care, and it appears SS is one of those people.

      • Maeie October 29, 2016, 4:37 am

        Don’t shoot me E-hell! Like I said, we don’t have garbage disposals where I am from, so I really don’t know what it can and can’t handle. I have to take my information from movies, so as far as my knowledge goes, human body parts can go down there without plumbing issues!

        • NostalgicGal October 29, 2016, 10:09 am

          We all know how Hollywood takes liberties with things. Yes, it’s amazing what will go down a disposer in a movie. There must be a motor down there the size of a small car and alloy blades and a foot diameter drainage pipe below that clear to the treatment plant to allow some of that to happen…. In reality some seem to balk at a single carrot peel curl.

  • Lex October 27, 2016, 6:43 am

    Having never had or experienced a ‘Garbage Disposal’, I’m not familiar with the function. But my basic understanding is that they are used to grind and dispose of leftover food from plates, vegetable peelings, and other organic detritus. It seems to me to be perfectly reasonable that Pumpkin pulp would be disposed of this way. As I understand it, when disposing of food detritus, the tap should run to ensure the food matter is rinsed down the drain.

    Since you have no information as to whether or not SS was using your Garbage Disposal in a correct manner, you have made the assumption that she is to blame somehow without evidence. If your plumbing system gets ‘gunked up’ by high volume use of a garbage disposal, I’m not convinced that this is SS’s fault.

    In this instance, I would suggest it is not incumbent on SS to offer to pay, since it’s not like she was using the Garbage disposal for anything other than its intended use. If your plumbing system has sensitivities or quirks, it’s not her fault.

    If you have a ‘temperamental’ system, I would suggest you make this clear before allowing guests to use your kitchen facilities.

    • mark October 27, 2016, 10:59 am

      The name is misleading. As a rule of thumb they really only are a device to unclog a sink by somewhat grinding the food to encourage it to go down the drain. If you look at a garbage disposal they look very similar to a blender (with a pipe out the side), and it essence that is what it is. Disposing of large amounts of food via the garbage disposal will eventually cause the problem reported by the OP.

      I only use mine to get the few bits and pieces of stuff left at the bottom of the sink down. I think you are giving this person too much credit. The pulp from a lot of pumpkins could easily fill the sink, or at least a significant portion of it, and would be very difficult to flush down the sink via a garbage disposal. I’m actually surprised she was able to get it all down the pipes. I would have expected the water trap in the sink to have clogged first.

      I would also bet faced with the sink full of pumpkin guts you would have probably done the smart thing and asked your host about whether or not you should use the garbage disposal or use the trash.

    • Calli Arcale October 27, 2016, 11:24 am

      Garbage disposals are intended to grind up small quantities of food — plate scrapings, basically. They’ve never been intended to dispose of sixteen pounds of pumpkin guts. That’s vastly beyond the capacity of the plumbing system of any house. This is, by definition, improper use of the garbage disposal. This is like flushing a diaper and being surprised it causes problems just because it can clear the toilet.

      I can only assume SS was ignorant as to the proper usage of a garbage disposal. They are not magic portals; the results have to go out through the same pipes as everything else, and those pipes are not large. Pumpkin guts are quite stringy, and will clump readily. SS misused it, hopefully out of ignorance.

      Temperamental garbage disposal? Nonsense. That thing’s clearly overbuilt if it was able to survive processing that much pumpkin innards without burning out the motor.

      • Amanda H. October 27, 2016, 11:35 pm

        Sending pumpkin guts down the garbage disposal is like trying to rinse long hair down a shower or sink drain to get rid of it. It doesn’t work so well.

      • Kay_L October 28, 2016, 5:34 pm

        That’s simply ridiculous. The reason that pumpkin guts damage disposals and plumbing systems is mainly because they dry out and become like glue. The stringy mess is not ideal for garbage disposals and it can harm them as can the seeds, which can jam up the works.

        But, it’s the composition of pumpkin in particular that makes it harmful to plumbing systems. The pipe probably wasn’t stopped up when she disposed of the contents down the sink. Overnight, as no water continued after them down the drain, that they dried in place and stopped it up.

        This is not common knowledge or this discussion wouldn’t be all about garbage disposals.

    • Tracy P October 27, 2016, 11:50 am

      This is not a matter of a sensitive or quirky system. Hollow out a pumpkin and look at how much innards you get. Now multiply that by 16. No plumbing system is going to be able handle stuffing that much down it at once.

      And if you don’t know how a garbage disposal works or what volume it can take, then the right thing to do isn’t to just assume it’s all ok. All SS had to do was ask.

      And to then act like it had nothing to do with her and flee the scene?

    • Dee October 27, 2016, 1:22 pm

      Lex – This is my thinking also. I, too, have no idea re the “etiquette” of garbage disposals. I also do not have a dishwasher because I have no patience for all the quirks and dos and don’ts. I don’t load anyone’s dishwasher as a helpful guest. I have been subject, though, to people who insist that I can use their wonderful and no-hassle appliances without worry and then, when I did just that, was berated for doing something wrong that ruined something or another. I treat other’s possessions as carefully as my own but in cases like that I do not offer to pay for the damage. Since the OP in the story labels her “friend” as an SS without giving any indication that this woman is difficult at all I have to wonder what other info is left out. Namely, if OP one of those who insists people can use her things without worry, in this case the garbage disposal, and then left it to SS to do just that. In which case, it clearly is the OP’s fault for either not instructing SS or not insisting on doing the cleanup herself.

      It would have been nice for SS to offer to pay some of the bill. But with so little info to explain OP’s stance on SS’s behaviour it seems there’s more left out than put into this submission. What, exactly, did OP think SS was doing with the pumpkin guts when she trotted off with all of them? When there was a garbage disposal available for use? Seems logical to me.

      • Jessa Buckley October 28, 2016, 12:53 am

        My concern is more that SS decided to not immediately inform anyone of the flood in the laundry room. The longer water sits on a floor the more damage it can do to things like baseboards and any furniture in the room (table for folding laundry maybe? Pantry shelves?) Anyway it’s completely not on to see this and not tell someone asap.

        • Dee October 28, 2016, 11:49 am

          But that’s assuming SS knew about the laundry room well before she told OP. OP only says that SS mentioned the laundry room just before she left. If SS glanced at the laundry room as she was leaving and saw that it was flooded and appeared it had been from the evening before, then the damage was already done and SS did the only thing she could do – inform the OP. There is no indication, in the submission, that SS saw the laundry room before that.

    • SweetPea October 27, 2016, 1:43 pm

      I just wanted to offer up some additional knowledge on the garbage disposal.

      It’s true you can put some things down the drain (potato peelings, a tiny bit of food scraped off an already mostly bare plate), but I would *never* put 16 pumpkins worth of pulp down a drain. Even if she used it correctly, what size drain would you need to have to handle that kind of volume!?

      The disposal breaks up large pieces, but mush is mush.

      • TaterTot October 27, 2016, 7:48 pm

        Potato peels are actually one of the things you cannot put down the garbage disposal. They are very sticky and will clog up the plumbing.

        • SweetPea October 31, 2016, 11:36 am

          Good to know!

    • Lomita Momcat October 27, 2016, 2:59 pm

      Lex, when we replaced the garbage disposal that came with our house, the plumber who installed the new disposal was kind enough to give us a briefing on limitations of garbage disposals.

      Yes, they are intended to grind up organic waste– vegetable parings, vegetable trimmings, leftover food scraped off dishes, that sort of thing. And yes, you do have to run water while using the disposal.

      But if you take a good look at the pipes to which the disposal is hooked up to drain, a couple things are apparent: first, the pipes don’t have a large inside diameter. Second, the pipes have curves and turns.

      What this means is that if you wash a large quantity of chopped-up fibrous veggie peelings or similar debris down the disposal, you need a great deal of water under fairly high pressure to make that stuff move through the pipes without hanging up. (This is especially true if the diameter of the pipes has been diminished by build-up of grease mixed with hard-water scale.).

      If you have a large quantity of veggie waste, for example from peeling twenty pounds of potatoes (the example plumber used), you can certainly grind it up, but the odds are not in your favor of washing it all down the drain if you try to do it all at once. The water washing it down the drain is a gravity drop, it isn’t under pressure, and any turn in the pipe or narrowing is going to start hanging stuff up.

      The plumber advised us to never, ever use the disposal for any quantity of debris that takes more than about 20-30 seconds to wash away, and to ALWAYS turn the water on first and keep it on for a good 30-60 seconds or more after shutting off the disposal. He made a special point that large quantities of veggie waste from peeling, trimming or seeding veggies, belong in the trash or compost heap, not washed down the drain in any form.

      We’ve followed that advice and never had a problem.

      • Amanda H. October 27, 2016, 11:48 pm

        This is how we use ours as well. Washing down the small scraps that end up in the sink normally, rather than larger amounts that should really be collected and tossed out in the trash can or compost bucket.

        Of course, I also don’t peel veggies into the sink to begin with. I heard a tip somewhere about taking an extra bowl to your prep station with you in which to put all your food trimmings, so you don’t have a pile to move or have to do your cutting next to the sink. This makes it easier to dump the trimmings into the appropriate trash as well, rather than trying to rinse it down the drain.

      • Becca October 28, 2016, 12:26 pm

        Yep, yep that’s the way it works. The limited time I had a disposal in a previous rental property, that’s how I always used it because it just makes sense…it was the first time I had had one and didn’t even need instructions on how to use it to understand those facts.

        Thankfully there are people out there that don’t understand so the plumbers and fixers of the world have job security though >:D

    • NostalgicGal October 27, 2016, 7:40 pm

      What a disposer will handle depends on the disposer, how worn out it is, if you know how to use it properly, the state of your plumbing beyond the disposer and what and how much you’re trying to put down it. My DH has always thought a disposer was for disposing and has tried to feed one way too much over the years (plus flushing paper towels down the toilet-Guaranteed Clogging Your Pipes) In general they are meant to handle small amounts, nothing really fibery and if it’s more than a few spoonfuls, no. These years we run active compost piles so ‘put it in the PAIL’ saves fights. (the paper towel one didn’t hit home until things clogged up bad, I had to rent the rooter machine myself (our plumber died) and what I pulled out wasn’t tree roots but paper towels). Even the average sized carving pumpkin is pretty much going to fill a 5 quart ice cream pail with innards, or a gallon milk jug. Times 16 that is a LOT. If the pumpkins were bigger… surely though the OP’s kitchen was outfitted with a trash can… unless it couldn’t be seen/found and/or was rather full, still can’t fathom how or why SS would put all that glorp down the disposer.

      • AJ October 27, 2016, 9:29 pm

        NostalgicGal – I just had to say ‘Glorp’ is a fantastic word and I am adding it to my vocabulary. 😀

      • Amanda H. October 27, 2016, 11:54 pm

        The thing with the paper towels down the toilet is that toilet paper is designed to fall apart very quickly once wet. Paper towels, well, aren’t. Tissues generally aren’t either, and thus shouldn’t be flushed. Jury’s still out on supposed “flushable” wipes, but I wouldn’t flush those either. (I just don’t spend the extra money for “flushable” wipes and instead buy regular ones and throw them away.)

        • Dee October 28, 2016, 12:13 pm

          Flushable wipes do flush, that isn’t usually a problem. They do, however, clog up septic tanks and city pipes and treatment plants. Taxpayer costs for workers who have to manually pick out the gigantic balls of wadded wipes are astronomical. Those wipes cost everybody in the end. They’re like disposable diapers; the person buying and using them is offloading the cleanup costs on everybody else. They real cost of them should be upfront, at the time of sale, like an environmental fee. It might make people consider just how “convenient” they are after all.

          • Amanda H. November 1, 2016, 4:06 pm

            But if they clog up the septic system, then I would consider them not truly “flusable” except in the most literal sense. But then in that case, lots of things are “flushable” that shouldn’t be flushed, as I mentioned.

            As for disposable diapers, I wouldn’t categorize them as the same as flushable wipes since you’re not supposed to flush them. You’re supposed to dispose of them in the trash, and thus they aren’t an unexpected cost the way flushable wipes are when needing to be removed form septic systems. And cloth diapering comes with its own monetary and environmental costs, so I don’t even consider it “better,” just different.

        • NostalgicGal October 28, 2016, 2:52 pm

          My DH decided flushable wipes were the way to go. Fast forward a month and I had a backhoe to dig out the main and rod out every one of those wipes. I also installed a better cleanout away from the crawlspace and deepened the angle of flow of the underhouse pipes. He is still bemoaning the ban on wipes. No the tossables are also banned, unless you’re running a diaper pail after about a day they develop STINK. I am looking into a standalone bidet…

          • Dee October 29, 2016, 12:56 am

            Bidet toilet attachments are inexpensive and wonderful, in my opinion. Should come standard with every toilet. Make the investment. You won’t regret it.

          • NostalgicGal October 29, 2016, 3:51 am

            I’ve used the attachments type and I want a stand-alone like you see in some international business traveler hotels, will be easier to clean and maintain… you do not live with my DH, Dee. I even installed a urinal with surround that I can clean easily and I paid for a custom tile to be fired with footprints on it, and put in some handrails. That thing may have saved our marriage at the time, now it will be a bidet to end the war.

    • Lex October 28, 2016, 5:57 am

      It is interesting reading the accounts of those who are more familiar with Garbage Disposals – they do exist but they are not all that common in the UK so most of this information is totally new to me. I was under the impression it was basically like an in-sink smoothie-maker-type blade but it appears that this isn’t the case. It does seem to have a misleading name and so I can imagine that someone would easily make a mistake when using one.

      Personally, when it comes to plumbing etc, I tend to adhere to the rule that ‘The more gadgets and gizmos you have attached to something, the more there is to go wrong’. Plus ‘Electric motor and running water’? Sounds like a recipe for expensive breakages.

      As far as SS is concerned, it is certainly thoughtless to just merrily shove a bunch of pumpkin guts (also, side note, am I the only one that retches at handling Squash innards?) down the garbage disposal, but did she make an innocent mistake based on her own misunderstanding or misinformation? Personally I have a compost bin, so anything like that gets put out in the compost. We keep Rabbits so our compost is very ‘Rabbit poop’ and wood-shaving heavy, so anything soft, pulpy or green to add to it makes a huge difference.

      I think in this instance, the OP might be best served having a word with SS and telling her that the Pumpkin mistake cost her a lot of money and that she would be grateful if SS would check with her the next time she wants to use an appliance in OPs kitchen. This opens up an opportunity for SS to offer to pay (although this is unlikely), and for the OP to set boundaries regarding her domestic property.

      • Amanda H. November 1, 2016, 4:12 pm

        I had a look inside our disposal recently when fishing out an item that had fallen in, and it is indeed less blender blades (like I thought as a kid) and more large grinder.

        I like your solution, to speak to SS about the mistake and cost and giving SS that opening to offer to pay (as unlikely as it is for her to follow through on it). It seems to me to be the most diplomatic approach.

  • Dominic October 27, 2016, 6:44 am

    In all the time it would have taken the offender (she doesn’t sound like a special snowflake—just a ditz, maybe?) to separate the seeds from the pumpkin guts before sending said guts down the garbage disposal, the OP never checked on her? That seems odd. Had it been me, and knowing that the offender apparently doesn’t always have the best judgment, I would have been checking on her.

    It might have been nice if the offender had taken some responsibility and offered to help with or pay the plumber’s bill, but part of offering hospitality is the risk that a guest will have an accident, do something stupid, or break something. Unless it is egregious negligence and not just ditzy stupidity, most hosts are expected to tell the offending guest not to worry about it. And usually the guest should nonetheless apologize profusely. So while the offender here definitely belongs in eHell, OP should probably have been checking on her to avoid just such a mishap, knowing that the offender is mayhem personified.

    I once snapped a lovely crystal wineglass off its stem, on my first visit to a co-worker’s home for dinner. It was one of a set, but she went out of her way to tell me that she had purchased an extra long ago in case one had ever gotten broken. It made me feel better, though I realize now she was likely fibbing. I couldn’t find a replacement for what I had broken, but I at least bought her flowers by way of apology.

  • Yasuragi October 27, 2016, 6:58 am

    She knew she was responsible. She fled the scene of the crime!

    If she’s as special as you say demanding payment may be unsuccessful and end the friendship. On the other hand, how much of a friend is she, really?

  • Willynilly October 27, 2016, 7:16 am

    I was born, raised and still live in an area without disposals. In fact until a few years ago they were illegal in my area. I have stayed in vacation rentals with them, and used them. One set of my in-laws have one and I have used it while being their houseguest.

    My understanding has always been they are for soft food disposal. It would not occur to me pumpkin pulp would pose any issue. If I had been the guest here, I would have apologized and perhaps offered to split the bill to be nice, but I would question if it was your disposals fault.

    • Calli Arcale October 27, 2016, 11:31 am

      It’s an easy mistake to make, indeed, but the thing to remember with a garbage disposal is that they do not actually liquify the food. It’s still particles — and stringier things, like pumpkin guts (which are much stringier than the pumpkin flesh normally used to make pumpkin puree) are particularly troublesome. I learned this lesson the hard way, burning out the motor on mine while attempting to process sweet potato peelings. I exceeded its capacity.

      It basically works like a blender. What happened with the sweet potatoes for me was that those are rather fibrous tubers, and the fibers wrapped around the blades instead of getting chopped up, fouling it and eventually seizing it up entirely. The next problem that can happen pertains to the capacity of the pipes in your house. Feel a puree — it’s still got a lot of volume to it, right? A clump of mashed potatoes the size of your fist could seal up a drain, and potatoes are much less clumpy than squash. Had SS put in only the guts from one pumpkin, it might have ended all right, or at least with no one the wiser. Sixteen? Far, far too much. Honestly, I’m amazed she even had the patience to keep feeding that to the disposal. It would take quite a while; the trash would be much easier.

      • NostalgicGal October 28, 2016, 3:00 pm

        I’ve grown pallet sized competition pumpkins. The ones you move with a lifting ring and forklift. One year for Halloween I had put my two largest on a car trailer, carved them (chainsaw figured in this) and dealt with guts. And saving seeds. Processing guts doesn’t take that long once you get used to the aroma and the slime texture. Which changes as it dries. With normal sized carving pumpkins, even though those seeds are smaller, it wouldn’t take long to properly pip out the seeds and dump the slime. I could see the SS standing at the sink and doing process a handful at a time, pulp being dropped in sink and the catching colander getting the seeds. By the second or third pumpkin she could have gotten very fast at it, and I could see if the OP was detained for a bit outside that SS could have finished up fast enough not to be caught. How or why the disposer didn’t seize up ad barf before SS finished is what gets me.

  • Cleosia October 27, 2016, 7:23 am

    I love how she mentions it on her way out of the door.

    She should be paying the bill as she caused the problem and since she changed the topic so quickly, she knows it. She should have offered to pay. Since she isn’t offering, you may want to give her a call back and suggest it. Depending on whether you really want her as a friend or not, small claims court may be an option if she doesn’t pay for it.

  • MrsSML October 27, 2016, 7:53 am

    In all frankness, I am wondering why you are friends with this woman. It doesn’t sound like you’ve got much respect for her so why put any further time or effort into that relationship? With regards to the disposal, it sounds like it was an honest mistake. I have no idea how those things work and I’m sure I’m not the only one who would have made that mistake too. It would have been polite to offer to pay for the plumber but perhaps she is that clueless or perhaps she couldn’t afford it? It’s an expensive lesson to learn but really, this sounds like more of an historical friendship than a real one so I’d move along.

  • Michelle October 27, 2016, 7:57 am

    Hmm…Seems like SS knew what caused the flooding but called to see if she had been found out.

  • Wild Irish Rose October 27, 2016, 7:59 am

    She wouldn’t be invited back to my house. How clueless can a person be? You could send her a bill, but I doubt she’d understand.

  • Huh October 27, 2016, 8:27 am

    Having not grown up with a garbage disposal, and only recently getting one, I would have had no idea that you can’t put pumpkin pulp down it, so thanks for the advance warning! I just recently learned on accident that broccoli stems are basically a no-go. So if SS doesn’t have one, she may be like me and think “garbage disposal” = disposing of food garbage = pumpkin is a food = is fine.

    Honestly, as the home owner, I wouldn’t expect anyone to pay for repairs like that, as its my house and plumbing issues happen. Say someone had to ahem, “use the facilities” and their use of it somehow caused some sort of clog in the line and you had to call a plumber, would you expect them to pay for that? I once lived in a house that had plumbing issues the absolute second I moved in, plumbers out all the time and could never figure it out completely. I would have issues after I used the plumbing and after guests did and I never expected them to pay for it – it was my house and my annoying plumbing.

    If someone is being stupid and throws my vase and breaks it, I’d expect payment. If someone goes to wash their hands and the faucet handle breaks, then I expect to pay for it.

    • Lola October 27, 2016, 10:17 am

      I think the problem is the massive amount of pulp that went into the system all at once. Not necessarily that pulp was placed in there at all.

    • Lomita Momcat October 27, 2016, 11:51 am

      Re your “facilities” comment:

      A friend of mine and her husband moved into a new house. California requires use of “low-flush” water-saving toilets. Not all are created equal, and friend’s house was built with very inefficient toilets that frequently clogged.

      Her husband had an appointment one day, and he was running late. Used the bathroom, flushed, literally ran out the door without checking to see if toilet drained.

      Friend and hubby got home about four hours later to find several inches of sewage all over the house. Destroyed their floors, destroyed their walls, thousands of dollars of damage.

      Plumbing problems can really, really be awful.

      • NostalgicGal October 28, 2016, 3:04 pm

        That sounds like a flapper issue then, that didn’t seal so the water kept running because the float didn’t trip. Most of the time on a flush backup you will get about 5 gallons of water max out which is a LOT and can make quite a mess. Or something else if it was SEWAGE and not just one dump mixed with a lot of water. If the sewer backed up that wasn’t the toilet’s fault (which can happen if pressure down the line backblows through the system). Cali can have quakes and damage to the sewer system can cause such things as backblow…

    • Teapot October 27, 2016, 12:04 pm

      No disposal here either, but I don’t think the problem was the pulp but rather the massive amount of it. Think of how heavy your average jack-o-lantern pumpkin is. A lot of the inside is pulp. Now multiply this by 16! It would probably completely fill the average disposal sink. I’m surprised that the disposal was actually able to process all of it.

  • Aleko October 27, 2016, 8:29 am

    Of course it’s howlingly rude, always and everywhere, not to offer to pay for repair of damage you yourself have caused – a dropped vase, a dented car, a flooded bathroom, whatever. But you surely knew that already.

    The way you tell it, that she told you early in the morning and promptly skipped off before you could start looking for the cause of the problem makes me wonder if she knew or at least suspected that the flood was her fault, and didn’t want to be around when you found out? Not only would she have experienced the mess and unhappiness first-hand, it would have been a lot harder for her to avoid offering to pay. A couple of weeks later, it’s easier for her just to bean-dip the whole incident. (Another thought; did she not want her *husband* to know what an inconsiderate thoughtless fool she had been?)

    Had she ‘fessed up on the spot and said ‘Please send me the bill for the plumber and replacement of anything ruined’, you might have felt obligated to say, as good hosts, ‘No, no, it’s nothing! We wouldn’t dream of it!’ But in the circumstances, I would unhesitatingly send her the plumber’s bill with a request that they pay it. And I’d send it to her and her husband jointly, so she has no way of hiding it from him, if that’s what she has been doing.

  • mark October 27, 2016, 8:31 am

    I would’ve offered to pay for it, since it would have clearly been my fault. Of course I would have put the pulp in a trash can. I also would have helped clean up. Even if it wasn’t my fault.

    One thing I’m certain of, it would be a long time (if ever) before she was invited back to my home.

  • abby October 27, 2016, 8:40 am

    Yeah, she *should* apologize and offer to pay, but it sounds like she’s not planning to do so. I guess you could bring up that it took a lot of work and you had to pay $XX and she if gets the hint, but my guess is she’ll brush it off.

    If stuff had been damaged as a result of the flooding, I wouldn’t beat around the bush- I’d tell her what the cost of the damage was and would ask her to reimburse me. Damage caused by flooding could be thousands of dollars. If it was just the plumber’s bill, I’d drop a hint to see if she’d pick up on it, then go ahead and eat the cost.

  • Shannon October 27, 2016, 8:48 am

    I would absolutely ask for reimbursement. In fact, I would take her to small claims court if she refused.

    Stuffing all of that down the drain took some time. At no point did common sense kick in? If she changed her mind and didn’t want to roast the seeds everything should have gone into the trash. Leaving it on the counter would have been preferable to the drain.

    • Lisa H. October 27, 2016, 11:29 am

      Small claims court isn’t going to net you the money you think you’re owed; should you ‘win’ your case it will only acknowledge you were in the right, but you have to go after the monies separately.

  • Shalamar October 27, 2016, 9:17 am

    I’d ask SS to pay for the entire bill, and when she refuses (which she almost definitely will), bid a silent farewell to THAT friendship.

    Her infuriatingly casual “Oh, by the way, your laundry room flooded” (with no thought whatsoever that she might be responsible) reminds me of when my mother-in-law was looking after our two little girls for a week. My husband and I had planned a vacation, and before we left, I wrote up a detailed list of how our house worked – including how to set the house alarm. When we got back, MIL said casually “Oh, by the way, your alarm doesn’t work. It hasn’t worked for the entire week.” I checked the alarm panel, and it very clearly said “FRONT DOOR OPEN”. The alarm doesn’t work unless all doors are firmly shut, and she hadn’t shut our front door properly. When I pointed this out, she just shrugged and said “Well, how was I supposed to know?”

    The worst part of that, as far as I was concerned, was that (a) anyone could have walked into our house at any time and (b) she’d left the door partly open for a week in the middle of winter!

    • Amanda H. November 1, 2016, 4:21 pm

      You’d think she’d call you up and ask about things once she determined that “the alarm doesn’t work.” I mean, wouldn’t you think that was something important to deal with? Even if you’re not the type of person to actually look at the panel to figure out what’s wrong (and those things are usually pretty helpful about it).

  • NostalgicGal October 27, 2016, 9:29 am

    My DH thinks a garbage disposal is for disposing of mass quantities of organic matter as well. No, a few scraps NOT the whole two quarts! That has been alleviated somewhat by active composting now, so ‘put it in the PAIL’ has superceded it.

    SS should have paid up for the plumber as a niceity, (the proper thing to do), but don’t hold breath. Either write it off and continue to socialize with SS and remember not to let her near your disposer ever again, or cool off that relationship pronto. The way SS offered a lame few words and quickly beandipped, they are not going to pay up even if you present a bill is my guess. Either write it off and continue the friendship or cut this one loose.

  • Daniotra October 27, 2016, 9:38 am

    I can give her a pass on putting the pumpkin pulp down the drain in the first place. If you haven’t had one in the past, you may not know that garbage disposals do not do well with large quantities, or soft, spongy stuff. (Ask my husband about the time I ran pasta through the disposal and clogged the system!) However, it was really stinky of her to not own up to her mistake. If she had owned up to it right away, you may not have had flooding, though there still would have been the clog to deal with. She should have offered to help clean up, and at least chip in towards the plumber.

    • Devin October 27, 2016, 11:13 am

      If she wasn’t familiar with how disposals work and the water kept draining (into the laundry room) she probably didn’t know there was a problem.
      My issue is they noticed the flooded laundry room and didnt immediately wake you up to alter you, but packed to leave then told you. She may not have any idea this was at all related to the seemingly functional garbage disposal, but a houseguest should alert the hosts to something like this ASAP! I’d make mention of the cost of the repairs/damage and hope for an apology, but I do think this is a ‘cost of being a host’. Use this to decide if you want to host them again, or not.

      On a personal note I’ve had apartments with disposals that could take down a sack of potatoes and others that get jammed with the peelings of 1 carrot, so you never know?

    • Huh October 27, 2016, 11:49 am

      Pasta’s a problem too?! What exactly can I use this thing for?

      • Miss Herring October 27, 2016, 4:35 pm

        A better name for it would be a “sink trap basket grinder.” So, if there are some little bits from your plate that would normally be caught in the sink trap AFTER you’ve scraped your plate, you can just grind them up and wash them away instead of manually cleaning out the sink trap basket.

        • admin October 27, 2016, 9:22 pm

          I remember decades ago my ex-sister-in-law tried to put shrimp “shells” and legs through the garbage disposal.

          • NostalgicGal October 28, 2016, 3:06 pm

            Oh dear. Who owned the disposer and did the disposer survive?

        • lakey October 28, 2016, 11:38 am

          And if you use a rubber spatula to scrape your plates, there is almost nothing in the drain basket.

      • mark October 27, 2016, 5:58 pm

        Very little, they jam easily, they are a pain when a sponge/rag slips down in, and they are a bit difficult to replace when they wear out. They lure home owner into a false sense of what the drains/pipes can handle. Anything you can scrape out of the sink and put in the trash you should, if the sink is draining slowly after that turn on the garbage disposal and it will usually clear it up.

      • Daniotra October 31, 2016, 1:37 am

        Large quantities of pasta are a problem. Pasta is also quite soft, so the drain snake just pushed it to the side without clearing the clog. My husband ended up clearing it with a shop vac.

  • Ryuugan80 October 27, 2016, 10:31 am

    I really can’t bring myself to even consider giving the friend a pass on this. She dumped the pulp of SIXTEEN pumpkins down the drain at once? I’ve never dealt with pumpkins before (I’ve dealt with tomatoes and stuff like that), but they’re not small. Wouldn’t that much pulp be enough to fill up a grocery bag or small trash bag?

    It’s pretty clearly not an actual liquid or something, so I feel like she should have thought better than that. The fact that she basically dashed in the morning makes me believe that she KNEW that she’d screwed up that night… but didn’t think to/didn’t bother to even alert her hosts to something that might be a problem?

  • DGS October 27, 2016, 10:34 am

    It would be nice for her to offer to pay, but it’s not a requirement – the onus of taking care of broken systems is on the host. However, I would have supervised a “friend” like that, if this person was in fact a Special Snowflake, as I would not trust them to not destroy some part of my home. I certainly would advise to not host her again in the future.

    A good friend of mine from childhood visited my family with her family a few years ago. We have lived on the opposite sides of the country as adults, and she, her DH and their children seemed like lovely, normal people, so it would never occur to me that they would be such incredible slobs when staying with us. They would leave dirty dishes wherever they happened to be, not clean up spills and leave clothes strewn about the entire house. Toothpaste, loose hairs and soap rings were all over the bathroom counter in the guest bathroom, and I won’t mention the toilet or the tub for the sake of not offending the readers. I had spent a large part of their week-long stay with us cleaning up after them. They never batted an eyelash or offered to clean up, and if anything, they would passive-aggressively criticize our housekeeping as we did not keep the right type of snacks for their liking (different parenting styles – my kids are allowed to snack on fruit, vegetables and yogurt between meals, and they are also expected to eat the same food that I have prepared for dinner for the adults, so if the adults are having lasagne and salad and garlic bread, the kids are also served lasagne, salad and garlic bread. Her girls are allowed to snack on chips, cookies, crackers, pretzels, etc. between meals and only eat certain “kid-friendly” foods, such as macaroni and cheese or chicken nuggets, so they were disappointed that we do not keep a stash of such foods on hand. I told her that I would be happy to drive her to the grocery store so that she could pick up those items for her children, but she did not take me up on it, instead, complaining the entire week that the girls were having to “make do” with our menu). We were also never given a host gift of any kind, and after staying with us for a week, they never offered to buy us a meal or pay for any tickets – whenever we had gone somewhere for entertainment, we would split the cost, they paying for their family and us paying for our family. It was a very stressful and unpleasant visit, but my DH and I simply concluded that we would never offer to host them again. They have since hinted that they would like to visit again, and we have ignored the hints. We visit when we happen to be in their part of the country by meeting at a restaurant, an event or a park, and we keep in touch via phone and social media and the Internet, and when my friend and her DH happened to be in town for business, we had met them for lunch at a restaurant, but we will not have them stay with us again.

    • Sel October 27, 2016, 8:32 pm

      Polite spine yay!

    • NostalgicGal October 28, 2016, 3:09 pm

      I’m sure they’d like to stay again, what servants they had while they were there. Glad you have a shiny spine and are resisting their attempts to sloth-off again.

  • Shoegal October 27, 2016, 10:41 am

    SS sounds really great!!! A super nice conscientious friend who floods your laundry room and tells you as an aside to leaving. I’d be hosting her again!! You can put some things down the garbage disposal but the pulp of 16 pumpkins is not one of them. It is not designed to take massive quantities of anything. The scrapings from your dinner dishes is usually is all that is put down there.

    Usually in situations like these – if the guest is very nice & wants to make things right – they will fess up to the offense and offer to pay. I think she knew what she did and just hightailed it out of there. I have hosted house guests and had parties where things got destroyed and I usually consider it just collateral damage. Almost always the culprit offers to pay to fix whatever and I just brush it off . The plumbing sounds likes an awfully big bill. It is a little harder to brush this one off. If it were me – I would probably pay up but that would be the last time I had her as a house guest.

  • stacey October 27, 2016, 10:46 am

    Reading the comments about not owning a garbage disposal was enlightening. I still don’t think a reasonable person would conclude that large quantities of fibrous, gloomy material would be okay. The disposal solves the issue of size by chopping things to bits. But no-one can reasonably conclude that quarts of gunk (which this would have been) belong in a residential plumbing system, for Heaven’s sake!

    • stacey October 27, 2016, 10:47 am

      Ha ha, “gloopy”, not “gloomy”, ( although the results certainly wère gloomy!).

  • JD October 27, 2016, 11:01 am

    I don’t have a disposer, and I clogged my sister’s disposer with just the carrot peelings off a couple of carrots. We were able to open it up and clean it out, but I would have offered to pay if not. I’m wondering why: A) OP didn’t offer a container for the pulp before she got started (but hindsight is 20/20, and I’m sure OP wishes now that she had) and B) why SS didn’t once ask what to do with the huge amount of pulp.
    I’d noticed I’d done something wrong with my sister’s garbage disposal right away, and I’ll bet SS noticed a problem, too. I also wonder, what was SS doing in the laundry room at night, in order to see the water was backing up? She knew the pipes were clogged, didn’t she? And while I thought the peelings off of a couple of carrots would go in a disposal, who in their right minds would stuff the pulp of SIXTEEN pumpkins down a disposal? Surely even garbage disposal newbies would hesitate on that, and ask first.
    A guest is always to offer to make reparations, and a host is always to refuse, at least at first, unless the damage was deliberate, from drunken idiocy, or doing something that anyone knows is wrong, such as putting plastic in an oven and turning it on.
    OP, SS isn’t going to pay anything. She knew she caused it. Drop this friendship, if it even is one, and move on.

  • SadieMae October 27, 2016, 11:11 am

    I can imagine SS not knowing (especially if she doesn’t have a disposal at home) that you can’t put mucky and/or stringy foods in there. However, I’m dismayed she was so cavalier when her action caused major problems. If that were me, I’d be saying, “I’m SO sorry, I feel like a bonehead,” and I’d be offering to pay for the repairs, too.

    Even if this was an honest mistake, her shrugging it off and not even apologizing (“Oops, my bad” doesn’t even nearly cover it in a situation this serious!) or offering to pay for part of the repairs suggests to me that this woman is just a jerk. I wouldn’t go after her for the money, but especially given that this is apparently a pattern of behavior, I wouldn’t invite her to my home again, either. At least not unless she really turns over a new leaf.

    • livvy17 October 27, 2016, 3:34 pm

      Yes, this was my thought too. Even if she didn’t have any idea she was making a mistake with the garbage disposal, she should have apologized profusely, and offered to pay for at least part of the fix.

      I myself wouldn’t ask her to pay, but I wouldn’t be inviting her to stay again.

  • Bandit1970 October 27, 2016, 11:12 am

    OP here. I originally posted this on the forum, more of an amusing story, PSA with Halloween coming up. It wasn’t an etiquette question per se, it was more of “for the love of little green apples” DO NOT DO THIS.

    Years ago, BFF and I destroyed a garbage disposal by putting junk down there that doesn’t belong including plaster). I remember her father (he owned the house) and the plumber sternly telling both of us that garbage disposals are for semi-solids, no peels, no lettuce, no egg shells, nothing of that sort (kinda defeats the purpose of having one if you ask me).

    The pumpkin pulp was just the coup de grace of the entire weekend full of faux paus. I maintain minimal contact with her nowadays. This was the second incident in recent years where it’s become apparent to me and DH to just let the friendship fizzle out.

    I did not outright ask for reimbursement. Mainly because it was how I was raised. If I’m a guest and something I did caused damage, intentional or not, apart from my sincere apologies, I should be offering to pay for the repair/replacement. DH and DD both have a screen door they walked through under their belts. ?

    This story has now been added to our SS archives; ranks in the top five though. Safe carving and Happy Halloween!!!

  • Lomita Momcat October 27, 2016, 11:39 am

    SS sounds like she’s either led a VERY sheltered life when it comes to prepping veggies and cleaning up, or else she uses a wood-chipper and lumber sluice instead of a normal garbage disposal and drains.

    If SS has otherwise been a good friend and OP enjoys her company, I’d be inclined to give her a pass on paying for the plumbing. I know many otherwise sane and sensible people, both men and women, who assume that anything organic that isn’t a solid piece of wood can go down the garbage disposal, if you just grind it long enough and use enough water. And in this day of prepared foods, most people aren’t peeling twenty pounds of potatoes or carrots (or gutting sixteen pumpkins), and so never encounter the limits on what a garbage disposal and drain can handle.

    It goes without saying, of course, that if SS is a guest in the future, she never gets assigned a task that involves plumbing or appliances unless someone is right there watching her.

    • Dee October 27, 2016, 4:18 pm

      Lomita Momcat – I don’t lead a sheltered life and have never used a garbage disposal. For our family (now three adults) we regularly amass two gallons or more of compost from preparing foods, sometimes on a daily basis. If a family eats mostly vegetables and fruit (as they’re supposed to do) and if they are on a budget (as most claim to be) then they will be preparing all that produce themselves. It creates a lot of compost. For me, the story is odd because I can’t imagine a scenario whereby I would be amassing sixteen pumpkins’ worth of guts and then leave it to someone else to dispose of in my kitchen. Wouldn’t I want to make sure they put it in the compost bucket and not the garbage? Or NOT the garbage disposal, as in this case?

      And from the original posting I don’t get that the SS automatically connected the laundry room flooding to the garbage disposal. I wouldn’t have. I don’t really think about how a garbage disposal works because I don’t have one, but if I’m staying at someone’s house and that’s how they have directed me to dispose of food waste then I would automatically assume it’s the same for pumpkin guts. Why would I think differently?

  • Ashley October 27, 2016, 11:53 am

    I have a feeling she KNEW what caused it, and that’s why she left in a hurry the next day and mentioned the flooding literally AS she was leaving.

    Maybe don’t let her be alone in your kitchen for a while…

    I don’t know that you’ll ever convince her that she should pay unfortunately.

  • Anna October 27, 2016, 12:08 pm

    I wouldn’t have known that pumpkin pulp was a no-go in a garbage disposal–it’s not like she shoved a sweater down there or something. I’ve only had a garbage disposal once in an apartment that I live in for a short time, so I don’t have tons of experience with them, and would have thought that pumpkin pulp would be OK to put down it.

    I don’t think that it is required that she pay for the plumbing, but a profuse apology once she realized it was something she did would definitely be in order, and it doesn’t seem like she did even that.

    • Reaver October 27, 2016, 9:31 pm

      You would think it’s okay to stuff 16 pumpkins worth of pulp down a garbage disposal…?

  • edy October 27, 2016, 12:22 pm

    I have been guilty of pushing the limits of my own garbage disposal, and have had some minor clogs as a result (no plumber required, fortunately). Most recently it was too much rice that did me in. I would definitely know not to put several pumpkin’s worth of goo down there, but I can sympathize.

    My guess is that the guest probably thought it would be OK, and was embarrassed when she woke up to find out it was not. But there is no excuse for taking off when she knew she was the one who caused the flooding. Embarrassed or not, a grownup should be able to take responsibility…apologize and stay to help clean up. An offer to get a plumber would be ideal if it was financially feasible for her to follow through on the offer.

  • Kat October 27, 2016, 12:50 pm

    I probably would have ignorantly put the pulp in the disposal.

    I would have offered to pay, too. I’d have been mortified by the mistake.

  • Cat2 October 27, 2016, 12:55 pm

    I’m curious – you mention that you told her the pumpkin pulp was the culprit. You don’t mention that you told her you had to have the plumber out and how much you had to pay him?

    But I think this may also have been an issue of what your disposal can handle – some are better than others, some can handle more stuff if water is running at the same time to move it along the system, etc. In part, it depends on the power of the disposal, not all are the same, so she may have been used to her own or someone else’s system.

    While I think that this may be a total misunderstanding on her part, I would also calmly point out that you would appreciate it if she double-checked with you on how to dispose of stuff or handle things when at your house so that you can give her a head’s up if there’s any issue that she needs to be aware of.

    At which point, I would absolutely expect her to offer to pay for at least part of the bill. If she didn’t, I would maybe ask, but maybe let it go as a “one-off” and see how life goes in the future. Or chalk it up as the cost of the friendship, since you know who she is. Is what else she brings to the table worth putting up with the occasional dipstick moment like this?

  • sandisadie October 27, 2016, 12:59 pm

    Seems to me that she had to know how to turn on the disposal, for starters. She also had to know to run water with the pumpkin fiber or she wouldn’t have been able to get it to go down the pipe. So she was familiar with a disposal IMO. Because of that I think she knew she had caused the backup. Not a friend I would invite to my house again. Oh, and not to tell you right away that she had found flooding in your house. This is no “friend”.

  • kgg October 27, 2016, 1:32 pm

    I would have offered to pay for it if I were the one who caused it, but there’s no way SS will offer and I don’t think OP should even bother asking. Just be done with her. And I don’t think anyone should be blaming the OP for not checking up on her house guest while hosting a party like the house guest was an errant toddler. The OP was clearly busy with the party. And I would bet money SS knew she was the one who caused the flood if she skedaddled quickly the next day. Any decent friend – who caused it or didn’t cause it – would be rolling up their sleeves and helping, provided they didn’t have a plane or a bad back or something like that.

  • InTheEther October 27, 2016, 2:20 pm

    Not knowing not to put the pulp down the food processor is an oops, though personally I double check with my hosts before I mess with any of their stuff (who knows if say there’s one stove eye that doesn’t turn off right and gas will keep pouring out or something. I don’t expect hosts to pass along that kind of info at the door.)

    On her going inside to fix the pumpkin seeds. Did she just remove herself from the party and had no further participation while still using you as a host? Just chilled inside with her pumpkin seeds and had no further contact with anyone else? In that case I’d agree with your SS label. There is a world of difference between “Hey, why don’t I bake up the seeds for us to snack on” and “Hey, these are mine now and I’m done with the party.” Especially as they aren’t her seeds (I’m assuming you bought the pumpkins or everyone brought 1 or 2).

    I agree with others who’ve said that she knew or suspected the cause of the flooding. Even if she hadn’t been to blame the “Oh yeah, your plumping’s flooding” on the way out the door was a jerk move. No matter if they skipped breakfast and got out of there fast, she just let the problem sit there until they were all packed up and ready to go before mentioning it. And then didn’t even apologize when informed of her culpability. “My bad” doesn’t replace an apology. Again, the complete lack of concern would be a little annoying even if she wasn’t responsible.

  • Kay_L October 27, 2016, 2:22 pm

    A cursory google search reveals that pumpkin guts are a frequent problem with plumbing systems whether you put them down the garbage disposal (which they can ruin) or even flush them down the toilet!

    The onus was on the OP, not the guest, to know what should be done with the pumpkin guts. Had the guest disposed of them in the sink after having been told to do otherwise, then yes, she would have been on the hook for the damage.

    But, the OP knew that she took the pulp from 16 pumpkins into the kitchen to relieve them of their seeds and she seems to not have checked up on her or given her any direction or supervision whatsoever. I find it very hard to believe that she was completely in the dark about what became of the pulp. The way her story is worded, are we to believe that she went right from the backyard and straight to bed?!!

    It’s your home and your responsibility to see that it’s systems are used properly. In this case, I think that blaming the guest and expecting her to pay is being a bit rude and entitled.

    • lakey October 28, 2016, 11:48 am

      Since the OP describes the woman as a SS, I would have thought that if SS headed into the kitchen with the pulp and seeds of 16 pumpkins, in order to separate the seeds from the pulp, the OP would have checked up on her to find out what kind of mess she was making. Separating pumpkin seeds from pulp is a really sloppy business. I’m surprised the OP didn’t find splatters of goop all over the place. I wouldn’t have wanted another person to do that in my kitchen.

      • NostalgicGal October 28, 2016, 3:16 pm

        Veteran guts-feeler here. One growing season I saved nearly 8000 seeds. (putting them on an old screen door over the tub to dry). You can get it down to a minimal mess and if SS has done harvest-roast seeds before then she might have the experience to do it quickly and without the entire kitchen looking like a veggie horror movie reeking of pumpkin and orange slimy stringies everywhere. However she should have also known that that was too much volume to go down a disposer. One average carving pumpkin would produce enough innards to make most people look for a trash can, but sixteen? Definitely trash can. That would be a few trash bags at least. (kitchen 13 gallon trash bags) And would she really want that many seeds? That’s a lot to dry, season, and roast. Did she take the seeds with or did she roast them there too?

  • Just4Kicks October 27, 2016, 2:30 pm

    I think she should at least offer to pay, if she genuinely didn’t know all the pumpkin guts would do that to a garbage disposal.

    Not exactly the same thing, but when my husband and I first moved in together, we had a pay per view party, boxing matches if I remember correctly.
    Anyway, back then, quite a few of our guests smoked and my husband had bought a nice box of cigars for his friends for the occasion.
    Out in the garage, I filled a large bucket halfway with water to dump all the ashtrays as needed.
    The next night, I had forgot to put my husband’s Dockers in the dryer for me to iron the next morning.
    I put them in, and off to bed we went.
    I had a very special guardian angel watching over us that night, because I often did throw a load in the dryer and go upstairs to bed….not giving it a second thought.
    After about ten minutes in bed, I had a strange feeling and told my husband I was going to turn off the dryer.
    Thank God, and guardian angels, I did because when I opened the door to the laundry room there was fire coming from the back of the dryer and halfway up the wall already!
    I freaked out and screamed for my husband “FIRE! The dryer is on FIRE!!!”
    He ran downstairs and while I ran for the phone to call 911, he grabbed the bucket of water (with copious cigarette and cigar butts in it) and dumped it over the dryer and wall, which stopped the flames.
    The fire department got there within minutes, and my husband led them to the laundry room and opened the door…..the look on the firefighters faces when they saw all the butts floating past them in a river of water was something I’ll never forget.
    “Uh….what the HELL?!?”
    Of course we told them about the party, and dumping the bucket on the fire, but to this day I’m not quite sure if they actually believed us.
    That was the last time I put clothes in the dryer and went to sleep.

  • bern821 October 27, 2016, 2:53 pm

    I agree with the posters who say that she thought she was doing the right thing by cleaning up the mess by putting it down the disposal – she didn’t intentionally clog up the works. BUT, I’ve never had a garbage disposal, so I would never assume I knew how to use it in someone else’s kitchen. It would have been nice if she’d asked before jamming the pulp of 16 pumpkins into the drain/disposal! I also have to say that I don’t really like people puttering around in my kitchen, so I would have been in there checking up on her repeatedly – especially given her history of carelessness – and maybe could have nipped the problem in the bud. Her ‘apology’ was not sufficient though – I’d have been mortified to find that I caused a major plumbing disaster in someone’s home and would have offered to help pay for the damage.
    I also agree with the posters who say that when you are a host, you do take on the risk of guests breaking things – and I would not expect someone to pay for something like this. An offer would be nice though even if I turned it down!

  • Cat October 27, 2016, 3:07 pm

    Send her the bill. She caused the damage.
    I would not worry about an accident, but she is certainly old enough to know what a disposal can handle and she did it deliberately.

  • magicdomino October 27, 2016, 3:15 pm

    Mixed feelings on this one. I rarely use my garbage disposal: vegetable debris goes either into the outdoor compost or the worm compost bins; solid meat and dairy go in the garbage; more liquidy meat and dairy usually goes straight down the drain. The garbage disposal is used only for food that is too wet for the garbage and too chunky for the drain.

    The compost worms love de-seeded pumpkin guts, but more that two pumpkins is too much at one time. I still wouldn’t automatically assume a garbage disposal is more delicate than a plastic bin of worms. Having said that, the SS should have told the OP as soon as the sink began to back up. Or the OP could have mentioned what to do with 16 pumpkins worth of guts — a standard trash bag would have trouble with that much.

  • lakey October 27, 2016, 4:08 pm

    It would have been nice if SS had offered to pay, but I don’t think it is required. I would have offered, but she didn’t do anything deliberately, and if she isn’t used to a garbage disposal, she probably wouldn’t realize that putting all that stringy pulp is was a problem.
    When I was younger I rented an apartment that had a garbage disposal. The super had to explain to me that I couldn’t put corn husks into it.

  • at work October 27, 2016, 4:26 pm

    It’s hard to think that anyone familiar enough with pumpkins and their use to want to roast the seeds wouldn’t know enough to discard the pumpkin guts in the trash can. Lack of common sense aside, IMO she and her husband should have offered to pay the plumbing bill. SS caused the damage, whether she knew better of not. But if no offer were made, I wouldn’t speak to them or submit a bill. Just pay it and move on.

    • Dee October 27, 2016, 11:18 pm

      at work – I would be very angry if someone put compost into my garbage. What a mess to clean up and the city would reject the garbage if they saw that. Having said that, because it’s important to put things where they belong, I would make sure my guest knew that before leaving him/her alone in the kitchen.

      • at work October 28, 2016, 10:09 am

        Personally, I would ask someone at my house to save it for our compost — I don’t know very many people who compost aside from my family though. It’s a shame, too. If a person recycles and composts, it really cuts down on the amount of garbage produced. I am happy to say that at our household, our food waste goes to the compost heaps or our chickens, who will soon be laying eggs with brilliantly orange yolks when they get whatever pumpkins we don’t sell.

  • HeatherO October 27, 2016, 4:49 pm

    If SS was a garbage disposal newbie, then she likely would not have even known that the host’s sink had one. Sure, the drain looks a little different, but I have seen many that do not shout “garbage disposal” and you still have to find the switch located discreetly somewhere in the kitchen.

    That being said, having the ability to locate and operate the garbage disposal indicates to me that she had prior experience with garbage disposals and should have known better. Also, the afterthought in informing the host of the flooding hints at her guilt in knowing that she may have been the source of the problem, but didn’t want to fess up to the owner.

  • Kay_L October 27, 2016, 6:59 pm

    Somehow, it seems that most of us (me included) made it to adulthood not knowing what a scourge pumpkin guts are to plumbing.

    It has nothing to do with whether you have a garbage disposal or not.

    “The pumpkin innards or “guts” are slimy, gooey fibers that can cause damage to your garbage disposal and sink drains. In your sink, the fibers from the pumpkin can dry and harden causing a clog in your drain or an unpleasant odor. Additionally, damage can also be caused to your garbage disposal if the fibers become wrapped around the blades. Seeds can also contribute to a drain clog or cause damage to your disposal blades.”

    Probably a good FYI for everyone around the holiday not to dispose of pumpkin guts down the drain at all–not the sink, not the toilet.

  • Julian October 28, 2016, 2:50 am

    Oh dear!

    This is why my ‘garbage disposal units’ have feathers and lay eggs…

    OP, I can understand how the garbage disposal got gunked up. If SS hadn’t used one, it could easily happen. I’ve heard all sorts of strange things being put down units, with some really bad results.

    The kicker for me is the way she told you about the laundry back-up just before she bolted. Flippant, uncaring and rude.

    I doubt you’d get any money out of her if you asked.

  • Green123 October 28, 2016, 4:10 am

    Sixteen pumpkins? And you threw all of the flesh away?

    What a horrific waste of food.

    • Dippy October 28, 2016, 11:47 am

      No, just the stringy part with the seeds. Unfortunately the flesh does not get eaten (except by squirrels) when you carve pumpkins, it stays with the shell.

      • Dee October 29, 2016, 1:00 am

        If the pumpkin was only carved a day or two earlier and kept fairly cool it can still be roasted and the flesh scooped out, or boiled, for pies and such. Used to do it all the time. It’s a great way of using the pumpkin twice.

      • Amanda H. November 1, 2016, 6:26 pm

        It depends on how you treat the pumpkin, though generally the flesh of carving pumpkins doesn’t taste as good as that of baking pumpkins (which are smaller and sweeter). If you only carved the pumpkin recently and didn’t do any extra painting or anything, then the pumpkin should still be edible. At our house, however, we outline the face with black paint, and tend to leave them out longer than a few days, which makes them no good for eating later. Especially when the local squirrels and slugs get at them.

    • bellini October 28, 2016, 3:57 pm

      In the US, certain pumpkins are bred to be good for carving, they aren’t for eating. Rail against that if you like, but at least know what you are talking about.

    • Saucy Minx October 28, 2016, 4:07 pm

      Pumpkins grown for carving into jack-o’-lanterns are not suitable food for humans. They are bred for size & shape, not nutritional value, & after carving will start to biodegrade, especially if the interior light of the jack-o-lantern provides heat (candle, for instance).

      The stringy stuff around the seeds is not pumpkin flesh.

      The seeds can be eaten, if you want to take the time & effort to prepare them.

      Although all pumpkins, strictly speaking, are edible, the ones bred for tastiness & human consumption are the sugar pumpkins.

      • NostalgicGal October 29, 2016, 4:05 am

        The ones grown for carving are usually Connecticut Field which give a nice narrow ribbed blocky flat bloom ended fruit and fairly thin shell, good for carving.

        Best tasting are Sugar or Pie pumpkins which tend to be smaller and rounder with less ‘blank space’ for carving a face on the side when set on the bloom end (bottom).

        The large competition ones are hand pollenated strain of Dill’s Atlantic giant and are now reaching sizes of regularly over a ton. (you need a lot of work and the right conditions, seed, and other things to get one that big though). They do have staying power once carved though, even ‘small’ ones will last a good week once carved (spray inside bottom with Raid to kill maggots though). They are very bland and it takes a LOT of spicing to be able to make a pumpkin pie with one.

        ALL have similar pulp though, just different size seeds.

        • Dee October 29, 2016, 12:07 pm

          Yeah, I’ve saved the flesh from all kinds of pumpkins. I don’t ever buy pumpkins but have grown all sorts of varieties. The only flesh I haven’t saved is from the Big Mac and the Atlantic Giants, since I’ve found that extra large veg (yes, I know pumpkins are a fruit) are never as tasty as smaller ones. I don’t use the puree but give it to a friend and she says they’re all good. Saving the flesh is something that was always done in the past and that was before the small sugar pumpkins were popular.

  • Angela October 28, 2016, 7:42 am

    I have hardly ever had a garbage disposal so when I visit someone who has one, I ASK about how to use it. And I think if I had that much pumpkin debris in someone else’s house, I’d ASK where the hostess wanted me to put it.
    Sounds like the hostess didn’t even get any of the roasted pumpkin seeds!

  • Jane October 28, 2016, 12:52 pm

    I also did not grow up with a garbage disposal, so I wouldn’t have known, but I would have ASKED before flooding the system with pumpkin gunk. Ignorance is no excuse.

  • bellini October 28, 2016, 3:56 pm

    It is funny how the people without garbage disposals seem to think it is totally on the OP that her adult guest tried to force down sixteen pumpkins’ worth of guts, which is INSANE. I grew up with a Dispose-all and it was the most temperamental thing ever. Put an eggshell in there with some water? Turns into concrete. You could also lose a finger in that thing. And it was ALWAYS breaking and not under the stress of sixteen pumpkins worth of guts, either. I loathe garbage disposals and have never wanted to have one in my own home. They are horrible.

    • NostalgicGal October 30, 2016, 5:08 pm

      Dispose-all… ugh. Tempermental (Part Temper Part Mental). We had one in a rental unit we lived in for awhile (see saga elsewhere about DH thinks you can run quarts and gallons of stuff down one). We ended up having to buy a new disposer and replace the one in there (much cheaper than not getting our deposit back)

      • bellini November 1, 2016, 6:45 pm

        Definitely temperamental! I’m glad someone else understands 🙂

  • Tara October 28, 2016, 8:57 pm

    I’m going to give SS the benefit of the doubt that it was an honest mistake. Until I read this story, I didn’t know you can’t put pumpkin gunk down the garbage disposal. I would’ve known at least to not put it all in at once, and maybe that’s what she did, and maybe it clumps up and forms a clog anyway. I would’ve been mortified though that I’d caused such a problem.