The Plumber


I really hate dealing with service people, but there comes a time in the course of home ownership when one must have repairs done, like it or not. In my recent situation, it was the plumbing needing attention.

I thought by now that everything that could leak had leaked, and everything that needed replacing had been replaced. But that seems not to be the case with a home that is growing old. It is unending.

Water has been seeping from under the shower for a while. I tried ignoring it. I tried soaking it up with a towel. No use, it is probably leaking between the walls. Water leaks cannot be ignored forever. Time to call the inevitable plumber.

Service people never show up when they say they will. They always get tied up on another job and call to say they will be there later, or tomorrow, or whenever the mood suits them. Usually this is after I’ve taken the day off work to be there.

Things started out well with this plumber, however, when he said he would be there at 10 and showed up at only 11:30. He turned out to be the talkative type. He tried to sell me their long-term service plan. I really just wanted him to fix the leak and leave.

He looked at the leak and decided it was not coming from between the walls, it was leaking under the shower door. I didn’t think so, but what could I do? “I’ve been a plumber for 14 years, mam, and I see this all the time.” Do I insist on having the wall torn out for no reason? Of course not.

We had also noticed a shortage of hot water lately. I figured since he was already here, I might as well get that checked out too. “When we take a shower, there is never enough hot water.”

His eyes lit up. That figures. They would rather work on something they understand than a mysterious leak. He proceeded to explain to me how water heaters work, how they have magnesium rods to keep them from corroding and how a tube carries the cold water to the bottom of the tank.

Who cares? Just fix it, I thought. So he pulled the magnesium rod and it was nearly eaten up with corrosion. Then he tried to pull the cold-water tube and it was too corroded to repair. “Mam, you need a new hot water heater — or I can put this one back together if you want to wait until it goes out completely.”

He proceeded to show me the corroded parts and the calcium deposits and to explain the realities of making hot water. Eventually I ended up purchasing a new hot water heater. Of course, he gave me a fabulous deal and a 50-gallon tank for the price of a 40-gallon one.

He was happy as a lark putting in the new one. This is something a plumber was born to do. He called me out to the garage two or three times to see what he was doing and to explain. As if I cared, just fix it, I thought. I tried to seem interested, but what I was really interested in was how to pay the bill.

“What about the leaking shower?”

“I’ll put some caulk around the shower door, mam, that should take care of it. No extra charge. We will take the price of the service call off the total too and there is a discount coupon in the yellow pages if you want to use that.”

I can’t figure out why I’m so broke with all the money I saved getting my leak fixed. But at least I have 50 gallons of hot water. I think I will go take a shower now and see if that leak is still there.

It better not be. If it is, I will not need a plumber. I will need a hit man. I wonder if there is a discount coupon in the yellow pages for that?

Copyright 2006 Sheila Moss

About Sheila Moss

My stories are about daily life and the funny things that happen to all of us. My columns have been published in numerous newspapers, magazines, anthologies, and websites.
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