Friday, March 6, 2015

Plumbing the Depths

It finally happened.  The one thing that could further sour my attitude about the winter-weather.

I had to drive in it.

This morning, I'm staring at a car that looks like it was driven through a salt mine.  It appears to have then landed in a mud hole, where it proceeded to freeze solid, until someone floored it and the car somehow broke free.

Luckily, none of those things actually happened.  I just had to endure a drive that took twice as long as it normally would.  I spent the first 2 hours of this despair-riddled sojourn thinking, "I can't believe this is my only option."

Because normally, I don't do driving in the snow/sleet/freezing rain.  Give me a 900-page novel any day.  I chose a profession that specifically stipulated that I would NEVER be required in any kind of emergency: in neither rain nor sleet nor snow nor hail.   

Yesterday, I actually said the phrase, "YEE-hah!!! It's going up to 40 degrees next week.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!"

That's a direct quote.  (Yes, I said, "Yee-hah!")  The sad part is, it was said without a trace of irony.  It was just a sincere, effusive reaction to the idea that maybe, just maybe, the temperature will climb above freezing for a day or two.

Meanwhile, I have a plumber working on my bathroom even as we speak.  He tried to do repairs a couple of weeks ago, but there are times when, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary to accept the fact that a "repair" just isn't going to cut it.

These are the times that try women's souls.

So now the plumber's back for the long haul.  A two-day plumbing extravaganza that should solve all my bathrooom's lingering pipe-problems.

We'll hope.  I wished him "Good luck!" before I retired to my office to blog.

The last time he tried to fix things, it really didn't go well.  To such an extent that he was actually  embarrassed at how badly it had all turned out.  (When he arrived this morning, he chuckled and said, "Thank you for having me back.")

The last time he was here, he spent 4 hours crawling around on knee pads and hammering and turning and testing and, at the end of it, things were actually worse than when he began.  That leak was really leaking now.

He said, "I can't believe it."  I said, "Welcome to my bathroom."

Because that is the way of that little bathroom of mine.  First, you discover what every YouTube home-improvement video ever made will insist is a "minor," "DIY" problem.  So you will think, "Hey, I can do that!  No problem!"

Four hours later, bruised and spattered with decaying soap-scum, you will crawl away from the tub (or the sink) with tears in your eyes and plumber's dope in your hair, whimpering, "I can't believe it."

It really is a cute little bathroom, though.  That's how it fools you into thinking you've got what it takes to fix it.

The upside of all of this (if you can call it an "upside") is that plumbers and handymen and I often trade truly wonderful stories of our various epic failures.

I think the plumber was surprised that I actually laughed when he spent 4 hours in there to no avail.  But as I told him, "I don't feel so bad now!  I feel like a little journeyman plumber.  I can spend four hours in there and not fix anything too."

He said, "Well, but the standard's supposed to be set a bit higher for me than it is for you...".

Standard-shmandard.  It's all about shoring up my wavering sense of self-esteem.  Mission accomplished, dude.

But that was a few weeks ago.  Now, I just want the damn bathroom fixed so I can get on with my life.

To do so, however, we fully realize that we will have to placate the God of Plumbing, and She (yes, I do think it's a "She") is an angry, fickle mistress, prone to fits of unreasoning fury followed by acts of simple kindness.

(Okay, yes, that does sound a little bit like me, actually, but as scholars frequently point out, it is not uncommon to anthropomorphize gods and goddesses in our own image.)

Case in point: the plumber just now called me into the bathroom to say, "I'm about to remove the sink from the wall.  All of the pipes have been disconnected.  I've cut around the caulking with a utility knife.  I'm going to proceed as cautiously as I can, but I may have to use a bit of force to remove the sink.  I can't be responsible for what happens to the wall or the fixtures."

To which I replied, "Amen.  And good luck."

And the sink popped off the wall with nary a grunt.  But we agreed that if he had not offered this respectful prayer for peace, the sink would only have dislodged itself after vengefully grasping a few hunks of the wall.

I told him to call me in again when it was time to pray for the sanctity of the shower-tile.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."