Archive | 6:59 am

An SNL skit in my bathtub.

13 Sep

So now that my leak is fixed (knock wood), I’ve realized: Hiring a plumber is like paying someone $600 to throw a party in your place and barf on the carpet.

Don’t get me wrong – the guy did a great job. But…

So he shows up with his son, who is approximately 20 and is trying to become a plumber by apprenticing with his dad. I’m pretty sure the main reason his dad drags him along is so he can bill out “two men” instead of one, but ostensibly he’s learning something. The main thing I saw him learn was how to retrieve tools from the van.

Every ten minutes, the plumber would yell, “Jim! I need you to go to the van and get…” Fill in the blank.

But the first time he needed more than one item he also said, “Jim – stop. I think you’ll forget. You best get a piece of paper and write this down.” To which his son rolled his eyes and left. And within five minutes was calling his dad’s cell phone to ask what he needed from the van.

After about half an hour at my place (which, I’d like to point out is SMACK in the middle of the city), his son said, “Hey Dad! Do you think I need to lock the van?”

And his dad paused, looked at me like his son had just spoken Chinese, then said, “What the hell? YES you should lock the van, you dumbass!” with a big headshake.

I got to do my own headshake minutes later, when Jim Junior reappeared and said, “I need to use your bathroom.”

“We’ve turned the water main off,” I told him, thinking how long it had been since I had been able to use a toilet myself. “So you won’t be able to flush.”

He shrugged and said, “That’s ok. I’m not going to poop.”

All right then. Thanks for that. Go for it.

About this time, Jim Senior pinpointed the source of the leak. But it was in a difficult place to fix, so he outlined his strategy – which was surprisingly complex and – if all were to go well – would prevent him from tearing out an entire wall of stone tiles in my bathroom. I gave him a mental fist bump and wished him well, feeling confident until he asked, “Do you have any fire alarms we should disable?”

Um… why? Oh, because apparently he needed to use a blow torch for an extended period of time next to a wood panel in my wall. No worries, nothing to see here folks.

Rather than disable my smoke detectors, I retrieved my fire extinguisher and put it next to him. “You know how to work one of these?” I asked.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “Not my first rodeo.”

Oddly, his confidence did nothing to inspire MY confidence in him.

Miraculously, all went well and he didn’t start a fire in my building (to my knowledge). But while he was in there, he spotted another leak of the flip side of the wall, originating from my bathtub diverter. The next thing I knew, he was standing in my bathtub, blackening the bottom with his dirty boots, getting sprayed in the face with water while he used a chisel to remove pieces of the tile.

“Is it ok if this rug gets dirty?” he asked, pointing to my plush bathroom rug, which was already wadded up under him in the tub, wet with blobs of caulk. Um… a little late to ask, no?

About this time, using a pocket knife to whittle a fitting, his grip slipped and the knife sliced into his finger. Blood started spraying everywhere in my bathtub and he calmly said, “Well now, this isn’t good.”

UNDERSTATEMENT. I watched my poor rug absorb blood for a while before suggesting he might need stitches. “Naw,” he offered. “But if you have a BandAid, that might help.” I got him one, which he tried to apply, but it slid off because his finger was too wet. With blood. We tried that six more times before he ended up just sucking his finger and using the bed of his elbow to hold a flashlight. I’ll give him points for resourcefulness.

Since I have the double curse of being OCD *and* polite, rather than confront his messiness, I started chasing around the house, trying to discreetly clean up after him. The first time I bent to retrieve a wad of wet muddy grass that had fallen off his boot, I felt like Sherlock Holmes. “He lives in rural Maryland and mowed the lawn last night,” I said to myself, feeling clever.

But by the time I picked up the thirtieth clump of wet grass I was like, “This guy is a slob. If he killed someone, I’ll soon find organs in the pile of my carpet. No mystery here, folks.”

When he finished the work, he sidled up to my dining room table and pulled out a chair to write up the invoice. I’d like to point out that the chair he pulled out was a high-back chair upholstered with mushroom colored fabric, and he pulled it out with a hand that resembled a good steak: charred and bloody. I watched in horror, but mentally resigned myself to buying a new chair. After all, the dude had just ended a major leak.

I’d like to say I stayed calm and kept things in perspective, but the minute he left, I turned my place on end, scrubbing the floors by hand, bleaching my tub, and loading up the washer with throw rugs.

Perhaps it would’ve been less scarring to just order a demo company to knock out all my walls. Next time, I suppose. Because in a building that’s 100 years old, unfortunately there will ALWAYS be a next time.