I Should Have Been a Plumber

Posted: February 1, 2014 in creative writing, Everyday Life
Tags: ,

PlumberI’m not much of a plumber. But I usually have pretty good luck doing my own plumbing repairs around home. The trouble is, being an amateur, I may not have everything in tools or parts on hand to do the job quickly. It just takes more than one trip to the hardware store to get a job done. My grandson used to love to help me. He calls the Ace Hardware Store, the Hardwork Store. We still do.

In the past I have replaced faucets, installed dishwashers, reset toilets and even installed a couple gas water heaters. My last project was installing a reverse osmosis filtering system under the kitchen sink. I’m an amateur but I’m a competent amateur. It just takes longer than a pro and you can expect many trips to the hardwork store. They know me there, we are friends. The first visit on a project we talk about how many times I’ll see them that day. I suspect that after I leave, Steve the store owner, starts a pool and all of the staff lay bets or draw numbers on how many times I will return. I’ve seen the chalk board, I know they do this.

The cold winter weather of January makes me think back to one plumbing job that should have been a no brainer. It was freezing temps and we had an unusual amount of snow already that year. We had quite a few inches on the ground and had spent alot of time removing snow. On this day the neighbor was good enough to come over and use his small snow blower to clean our driveway and walks. We woke up on that weekend after New Years and found that all of the drains through out the house were stopped up. Nothing was draining, the sinks, showers or toilets. Tracing the problem I determined the source of the trouble was under the upstairs bathroom toilet. This did not seem like too difficult of a problem, I may even have enough tools to take care of this. I already had a 20 foot drain clean-out snake in the garage. What more could it take.

Grandson retrieved the tools and snake from the garage as I finished my second cup of coffee. With everything in the ready, we inserted the snake and slowly started hand screwing it into the toilet and down the sewer pipe. But to no avail, the drain was not unclogging. Soon we had ran out the entire 20 foot snake with no luck. We needed a longer snake. So I called my friend JD for advice and a little help. He said no problem, the Hardwork store had a nice 100 footer that they rent out. He’d come over to help. While he was on his way over to my house, I went to Ace to pick up the longer snake. It was nice! It had an electric motor on it and it would unscrew itself down a sewer pipe, Steve the hardware man showed me how to run it. As I walked out of the store I saw from the corner of my eye, one of the clerks putting a chalk mark on the board.

When I got home, JD was already there, ready to go to work, after he had finished his second cup of my coffee. We started the job. But after looking at the new snake and knowing we would need more than 20 foot we determined that pulling the toilet up and removing it would give us a better angle to run the snake. Toilet removed, we began running the snake down the drain. We were surprised how fast it turned and how quickly it extended itself down the sewer. We totally lost track of how far it had ran down the drain. So we figured what the hell, we will give the drain a good cleaning and let it extend the full 100 foot. In a matter of minutes we had come to the end of the line. Now there, we let the motor run twisting the line cleaning the drain. Satisfied that we had cleaned enough, I reversed the motor and started rewinding the snake out. But it didn’t rewind well. Worse than that, the line got stuck. We had to pull on the snake by hand, pulling it out of the drain. But we would pull a few feet and then it would stick solid. With all of our strength we could pull no more. When we’d let loose of the snake, the 3 or 4 feet that we had gained would go slamming back in the drain, like it was hooked on a spring. JD just thought it was the snake stretching and contracting. We’d pull out 4 feet and then all 4 feet would go back down the drain. Really weird.

Before JD and I had begun struggling, er…. working on this, my wife, who knew nothing of this, left to go to the store for more coffee. When she returned, she could not figure out what she was seeing. When she pulled into the driveway she saw the neighbors snowblower, which he had left at our house that morning, hanging about 4 feet in the air in front of our porch. As she sat in the car looking at this, it slammed back down hitting the sidewalk. A few moments later, it would go shooting back up into the air, the handles catching on the eves. This had attracted the attention of our other neighbors too and they and she watched this cycle continue, going up and then slamming down, all in amazement. She came running into the house and into the bathroom, trying to get my and JD’s attention. Finally we stopped our drain cleaning to see what she was shouting about.

Yes, you may have guessed it, the snake we were running had made a u-turn in our drain pipe and taken the route up through the drain air vent through the roof. It came out the vent and over the top of the house and attached itself to the handle brackets on the snowblower. When we pulled, the blower would rise,when we would run out of steam and let go, the blower would slam down. Needless to say, the snake operated much better once the snowblower was removed. While JD and I were retrieving the snake, fixing the air vent and paying my good neighbor for new choke and throttle cables for his snowblower, my wife called the plumber.
Oh… Now I’m Laurel and  JD is Hardy.

Such is the life of John.

  1. Sandra Erickson says:

    Enough material here to quit your day job and take it on the road. Adventures in plumbing. Heh.


  2. gpcox says:

    Oh, this is too much!! This story has to be true – no one could make it up. Hilarious!


  3. HA! This made me snort laugh! 😀
    Yes, you missed your calling! You SHOULD be a plumber! 😉 😀
    Ha! I wonder how many stories plumbers can tell about having to fix what the homeowner tried to fix! 😛
    Ha! On a DIY project, most of the men I know have to make at least 3 trips to the hardware store before they are done! 😀
    HUGS!!! 😀
    PS…I’m still laughing! 😀


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