Plumbing Penance


This past Tuesday night my friend and neighbor Ed informed me by email that he had a bit of a computer problem that might need fixing. I gave him some suggestions and indicated that I might see him the following day if he still needed help. Unfortunately I ended up Wednesday by returning home late in the day and a bit exhausted. I wrote a followup email to Ed to explain where I was all day. If you dislike plumbing, please read the email message I have copied below.



How did your day work out? I’m sorry I wasn’t around to help you
with that computer problem. My day did not follow the plan I had
worked out. Let me explain.

I left home at 7:05 am and got back at about 4 pm.
I went to mom’s after breakfast at McDonald’s with the guys.
I found her still in bed at 9:30.
She felt warm so I figured she was alive (you have to do that stuff when someone is 92).

She woke up after a little while and told me about how
sick she was the previous day. I gave her the scheduled vitamin shot (1 ml every 6 weeks)
and then went to the kitchen to wash dishes. This is when I noticed the faucet had
no handle (reminds me of an old Bob Dylan ballad).

“Oh yeah” says mom, “I have to walk to the bathroom to get
water to wash the dishes.” So I ask her how long has it been like this.
“Since the weekend, I think” says she. Well you need a new
faucet set. “I know that” she returns, “Andrew is going to get one
for me”.
I decide to call Andrew to determine whether or not he has
acquired the sink faucet set. “It’s on the floor next to the china
cabinet in the dining room” Andrew informs me. “I was going to put it in
as soon as I felt better. Got a serious case of the runs, you know.
Even the dog is sick.” I see a pattern emerging here.

So what to do? I called my friend Lee and informed him that I would
not be able to meet him today. I was having a plumbing crisis. He
offered to loan me some tools but I declined. I had to go home
and get all my special gear.

So off to Hope Valley I go at warp speed. I return to Warwick in no
less than 100 minutes laden with every tool and light source
known to modern man. I also drag along my wife who is seriously
concerned about a maniac errant son driving with wild abandonment
on the slightly icy roads of Middle RI.

Of course my mom has already requested that I return with a loaf
of cinnamon swirl bread without the raisins. She used to put raisins in
everything she cooked, including meatballs. That was to make my
dad happy. Now he’s gone so damned the raisins. I said damned the cinnamon
swirl bread until we get the sink fixed.

So we arrive. I carry in my tools that are cradled in a cardboard Narragansett beer
flat, the best toolbox I had on hand. Camille goes into the dining room to
converse with my mother (bless her heart; Camille’s, not mom’s) so
I can tinker, throw things about and curse willy-nilly to my heart’s desire.
It’s the only way I know to do plumbing.

What does it take to install a kitchen sink faucet? This box of goodies just about covers it. Someday I'll turn in the Narragansett Beer box for something more sturdy. For now, it does a nice job.

What does it take to install a kitchen sink faucet? This box of goodies just about covers it. Someday I’ll turn in the Narragansett Beer box for something more sturdy. For now, it does a nice job.

Step one was to remove all four mousetraps from under sink. Two were sprung and contained no bait. One was primed and went off when my screwdriver touched it.
Number four had a mighty well-dead mouse attached. Lucky me.
Now the fun part of the day (and I thought the 15 mph first drive up on route 95 couldn’t be beat) began. The old faucet set was held on by this really big fitting that would not budge. So I just started ripping stuff out. I severed the old spray hose with some sharp scissors mom had on hand (the only tool of any value in the house; even her
flashlight didn’t work … it was full of water). Then I proceeded to undo the two nuts
that seemed to be holding the faucet stem in place. Have you ever tried to use
an 8-inch wrench in a 3-inch space? After a liberal dose of the F-word and much
twisting and bending of my back (not to mention the drop light that decided to drop
in my face and the spanner that missed my head by an inch) I finally pulled
the sucker off. The actual install of the faucet was a piece of cake, almost. If you
think using an 8-inch wrench in a 3-inch space is frustrating, how about using
two at a time? Yup, that’s how you tighten the supply nut without twisting
off the faucet nuts (both cold and hot). Did I already mention falling wrenches,
raining rust flakes, and dripping supplies? I swear, all plumbers must go straight
to heaven when they die. No waiting in line for those guys. They already spent
a lifetime in purgatory.

Finally the faucet is working. The only leak (very slight) is the shutoff valve. I don’t do those.
Besides, if I fixed that what would the mice think? So my wife and I make a quick run
to the store for cinnamon swirl bread without raisins ( any brand will do, just no raisins if you please) and a fresh pink bottle of Pepto-Bismol© so as to replenish mom’s recently
exhausted supply. Job done. Goods delivered. Bye mom! “You can’t leave yet” says mom. “Watch me” my face responds. You have to replace the bulbs in the dining room
lamp. I do this with great reluctance (plumbing brings out the worst in me).

My wife and I finally leave. “I would have stayed home if I knew it would take this long” she huffs.
“Wait!. Do you know what day it is? It’s Wiener Wednesday!” I say. That did it.
We set a path for Kingston Pizza down in Peacedale. When we enter the store I immediately ask the friendly lady behind the counter “Is today Wiener Wednesday?”
“All day, honey” she responds. And the guy eating alone in one of the booths
chimes in “That’s what I ask her every Wednesday too.” So five wieners, one large fry, a six-pack of Gansett and 20 minutes later we are back home eating our 4:00 pm lunch/supper.
That was an unexpected day.


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