Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Plumber

There's no way for me to refrain from writing this post. The experience was designed to be written and immediately sent off to a comedian to write a skit. It was so unbelievable.

Thursday morning my landlord, who is very handy, came to check on our lack of overhead lighting in one room, the clogged kitchen sink, and the bathroom drain. Savvy with electric, he quickly fixed that problem. After pouring Draino down the kitchen sink, he said we'd need to call a plumber for the second two problems.

We have family coming for a week starting Sunday, so these problems aren't ones we could leave unattended. So, I asked if it might be possible for us to get the plumber either Thursday or Friday. He assured me that the plumber he uses is a one-man job and he's always in need of jobs. Hours later I was to learn why that might be the case.

He calls around noon to let me know he'll be coming between 2-2:30. I could tell he was a character already. He asked me if I had a few things on-hand around the house, so he wouldn't have to bring them himself. You see, he doesn't have/wasn't going to be bringing his truck. Interesting.

The time comes for him to arrive and I hear boisterous talking on the porch. I open the door to find him and a woman. I lead them to where they need to go and show him where the water heater is. He sees the weight set in the basement and asks, "Does your husband lift weights, because you don't. I can tell." Lovely chap. 

I then head back upstairs to where Ian's still snacking. The woman asks if she can sit outside in our chairs in the backyard. Not a second after I get to Ian, I hear a huge, loud, echoing burp arise from the basement and then a "KATHY?" I was to hear my name about fifty more times in the next hour, as I was beckoned to show him different things, help hold things, AND, when I found water gushing from a pipe, help clean up the mess. Since, you know, he didn't have his van and therefore didn't have any rags or towels, like he normally does.  (I was very generous in sparing all of the details here...)

Fortunately, Ian was behaving very differently than normal and stayed at the top of the stairs and watched from above. Whew. That was the only thing that went well that day.

The water that gushed from the pipe was actually from the corrosion of a whole little section of pipe!! And it just happened to occur WHILE a plumber was there. Okay, that was the second good thing. But, did I mention that I cleaned it up?

On the multiple trips he made through our house, he commented on how good the soup I was cooking smelled. And inquired about what kind and if I had left the bones in it? Are there veggies? Oh man, does it smell good. I didn't bite.

He fixes the bathroom drain and says it will be good to go.

Since the pipe broke, he had to run to his house and to Lowes to retrieve a few things, since he wasn't expecting this to happen. Before he left, he again called me loudly from the basement to ask where he should dispose of the 5 gallon bucket full of Draino and gross stuff. Umm... What is the protocol? My response: "If it has to be dumped here, as far away as possible from the house and out of Leif's electric fence area and in an area where Ian won't possibly explore."

He carries it outside and follows where I pointed for him to go. He walks into the shrub area and continues going about 15 feet before he attempts to throw the bucket. Now this is right out of a Three Stooges skit... he pokes his eye on a branch, and dumps the bucket in his own face, and down his whole left side. I kid you not. He starts screaming, "Hose! Do you have a hose? I need a hose!" Quickly, I run for it and he washes his eyes out for minutes on end. 

He then turns to me and says, "Well, now I can't clean up downstairs." Motioning at his soaked body. And he says, "It's all over the paneling and will probably change it to a different color. Super toxic. It needs to be cleaned." I ask him what is best to use to clean it and he says bleach. Something we don't keep around. His helpful friend says, that she will bring me some when she returns. 

They get in the car and he says, we will be gone for about an hour. 2.5 hours later... it's 5:45 PM and I am getting dinner ready without a kitchen sink. He comes back through like a tornado. He works on fixing the pipe and teaches me all about it, adding tons of time to a very quick job.

I start reading books to Ian on the couch in an attempt to have something of a normal evening for him before bed. I hear "Kathy!" He rushes in to teach me something new and ask what I do for a profession. When I responded with teacher, he said he knew it... my enthusiasm while reading made it obvious. 

He then mentions off-hand that he had a biking accident and proceeds to tell me all about it. AND THEN, I kid you not... he pulls his shorts down to show me most of his right left buttock to show me a rash (that was honestly non-existent by this point... I hate that I even can tell you that). I was in shock.

Before leaving the room he asks for a cup, a plastic cup. We have a few for big get-togethers, so I fumbled around looking for where I cleverly stored them. As I did it, he told me to guess what he'd be putting into it. I responded with, "I don't know. Bourbon? Whiskey?" No, I was wrong about both. I left the room after handing him one.

I turn around to see him STEALING a cup-full of soup from our pot. No permission, no asking. I was later thanked for giving him the soup and I only know for sure that he ate two cup-fulls, both not offered to him.

By this time it is almost 7:20 PM. Ian normally gets a nap around that time and so I started his bath. Midway through the bath Ian lifts to drain lever and it gets stuck exactly the way it had been before the plumber arrived. Bath's over.

I shout to the plumber and he comes back up, telling me how he wasn't going to mention it before, but it's missing some parts. Umm. Why wouldn't you mention that and fix it? And he was going to have to make another trip to Lowes. WHAT?!?!

I suggest that maybe he could just come back on Friday and finish the job. He brushes it off saying that he's already dirty and wants to finish the job. I desperately want him to JUST LEAVE, but I also don't want him returning to my house for ANY.MORE.DAYS.EVER.

He leaves and soon after Jim calls saying he's coming home. I let him know that the plumber is still around and that it's been a painful experience. And then I try to put Ian down. Fortunately, I didn't have to try too hard. I think it was a stimulating and exhausting day for Ian to have this man in our home.

Almost as soon as Ian's eyes closed, I heard banging and shouting in the basement. The plumber had returned. And, thank goodness, managed not to wake up our sleeping toddler.

I stand outside with his friend and chat for a bit and learn that she is his driver. She works part-time as a sleep tech and then helps him by driving. She doesn't know why he needs a driver and he's never stayed on the subject when she's asked him. Hmm. 

She chats me up about chickens and the chicken coop. Very sweet lady. She also informs me that this is the longest job they have ever worked. Surprising, in some ways. But WHY US?!

I walk back inside the house and hear water gushing AGAIN in the basement. Jim and the plumber were in the bathroom, where he was testing the drain of the tub. He never replaced the elbow pipe he took off. Water was falling directly into the basement. Yup.

And, you know what, he was too tired to clean it up at that point. Would we mind?

9:30 PM.

So long. In the end, I was grateful he was still here when Jim got home... I don't think I could have possibly explained him well enough. Our landlord must have a reason for hiring this man. Thank goodness he wasn't on our tab. At points, I was sure that the cameras were going to come out and tell me I was on a reality show.

Miserable. Almost hilariously so.

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