Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Plumber Cometh

The hot water tap in our laundry started leaking last night. This morning I called the real estate agent, who called a plumber, who came around to fix it.  Eventually.

Heavy knock on the door.
            I answered, and found a grizzled man propping himself up against the wall with both arms.
He looked at me out of eyes like caves and wheezed.  
            "You call a plumber?"
            Tripping over the front step, he stopped to carefully close the door behind him, then wobbled down the hallway - one foot carefully in front of the other and still going sideways.
            We entered the laundry -
            "Ah ha." He nodded sagely.  "You've got a leak. I'm going to turn the water off at the main.  Where's your main?"
            "Out front, next to the driveway."
            He spun on his axis, wobbled back out the front door, and tripped over the front step.
            I picked up my phone to call Mr Tabubil. 
            "The plumber is here and he is plastered," I giggled. "Just thought you should know, you know, just in case-"
            I was interrupted by a bellow from outside. 
            "I can't find your water main!  Where do you keep it?"
            I went outside and joined him on the driveway.
            "Isn't this it?" I pointed to the stopcock under his foot.
            "Oh,"  He said. "I was looking at that one" and pointed upwind at the neighbor's water main, six meters away, on the other side of their house.

Shutting off our water he swayed and almost fell, then he wobbled back to the house like a drunken gyroscope and tripped over the front step again. He walked the straight-line DUI walk down the hallway (tacking off the walls) to the laundry and pulled himself together enough to deal with the taps, keeping up a running commentary:
            "Stupid cheap crap in these houses. Crappy cheap houses. Look at this - how old is this place?  Not even a year old. The neoprene washers are ripped to bits.  You know what I'm going to do?  I'm going to put in a real washer, like the ones I use up at the hospital.  How about that?  I worked on some of these houses - I worked on one put together so badly that the roof sheets went up and down in the wind like surf on a beach.  They brought up people from Adelaide to work on these houses - you know why they came?  Because nobody would employ them down there. Cowboys. You said this house was about a year old?  Yeah?  Well, that shouldn't be happening."  He pointed to the windowsill, which is splitting along the seams.  "You'll have to watch the other hot taps in the house.  They'll all go on you.  Catch me paying top dollar for a house like this.  I hope you're renting.  Lets turn the water back on."
            This time he found the main all on his own, but he tripped over the front step going out and coming back.
He turned the tap on and gaped. "Is that all the water pressure you got?"  He said, looking at me owlishly.  "You want more?"
            The low-flow water restrictor in our laundry spigot is 100% water efficient; it is so slow that if Penelope of Ithaca had lived in our house, she'd have chosen ye old "washing her hair" dodge instead of spending twenty years weaving her shroud, and she'd have seen off that entire unwelcome mob of suitors before she'd managed to work up a single sud.
            Mr Tabubil, however, being hale, hearty and safe at home in Ithaca, I drew myself up and asked "Are you implying, Sir, that in the desert, in this time of deep concern for our national water resources, I would even for a moment consider appropriating more than my fair share of the common water trust?"
            And I will stand by that statement if and where necessary.
            The plumber blinked turned carefully around, tacked carefully back down the hallway - and tripped over the front step.  Whereupon he looked at me, wheezed, and got back in his truck.
            I didn't dare stay to watch him pull out.

No comments:

Post a Comment