Sunday, April 28, 2013

If You Ain't Got Plumbing, The Party's Over

From today's Times and News-Star

The ground holds secrets only plumbers know.

So if you see a plumber today, shake his hand. Shake it! Go on. Shake that hand. True, you don’t know where that hand has been. Probably been where few hands have gone before. But we’re glad that hand had the guts and the knowledge and the strength and sheer WILL to get it done.

I am grateful for plumbers, and you should be too. Plumbers are The Man. Never have I met one I didn’t like. They are like the rest of us, with nuances and peculiarities, but they are always the ace in the deck when -- for lack of a better phrase – the rubber meets the road.

This rings true: plumbing in its all-encompassing magnitude is a bona fide showstopper. It levels the playing field for both the prince and the pauper. If your plumbing backs up -- either in your home or in your body – everything stops until it’s fixed.

If you disagree, you are able to withstand a lot more pain and agony than I am. I’m not much of a man to start with, but without good plumbing, I’m a shell. A baby in a diapie that needs changing.

Last week a work van in Alabama passed me. Paint on this just-washed vehicle advertised “John’s Plumbing: We Repair What Your Husband Fixed.”

Brilliant! “John’s Plumbing.” Like “Jeeves’ Butler Service,” the name screams “I was meant for this job!”

Research determined that John really did start the company, and while not everyone named John is destined to be a plumber, this John felt the pull of gravity and backhoes and PVC pipe and followed his intuition to build a successful enterprise, and one with efficient drivers. I like to get passed on the interstate by plumbing vehicles: when you need a plumber, you always need one yesterday.

And few husbands, no matter their looks or money or position on the ladder of success, have a solid working knowledge of plumbing. We try, but we’ll always be in Plumber Elementary School next to the pros. We are better at making it worse than we are at making it better.

Let’s be honest: you’re more excited to see the plumber than you are the cable man or, in most cases, your pastor. Even on a Sunday. Especially on a Sunday, even if it’s going to cost you time-and-a-half.

Plumbing problems are no respecter of the calendar.

Consider that no matter where you are at this second, there are more likely than not pipes below you. All up under there. All up under your house, your place of business, your city. How do they all fit together? Who figured all that out? How does which pipe know what to carry, and where? Who keeps it all hooked together and flowing smoothly?


From the get-go to the backflow, they know.

For a couple of days a few weeks ago my yard looked like an international mole convention was ongoing. Guys were out there with shovels and brains and hands not afraid to get dirty. And then, bingo. Level dirt. Things were flushing. Drains were draining. Peace in the valley, and all quiet on the western front.

How do they do it?  

I’m told there are three rules of plumbing: some things don’t run uphill; payday’s Friday; don’t bite your fingernails. But there’s more to it than that. Plumbers run the world, and from underground. Like my favorite plumber, knee-deep in mud, told me, “Try buying THIS on the internet.”