The Sound of Success

The thing about plumbing, and yes, there is a thing, is that it is, well, just like plumbing.

“It’s plumbing,” you’ll hear mentioned with regard to all sorts of endeavors.

“Fixing the aorta? It’s plumbing,” the cardiovascular surgeon will say.

“Containing a nuclear meltdown? Plumbing.”

The only people who won’t say something is like plumbing, in fact, are plumbers. To these guys, plumbing is microsurgery. It is quantum physics, engineering to the nth degree. It is like nothing else. 

I guess it is admirable to have gusto for your chosen profession, even if it is inflated a little. Why be a plumber and not think it is a great thing to be. I have always respected plumbers, and other tradesmen, with similar enthusiasm. When you are not skilled at something, you always revere the people who are. I have tried to perform many tasks that other people make their living doing, and have succeeded a portion of the time. So, I can appreciate those who do the harder of these jobs. The other day, I tried to be a plumber. It changed my life.

The toilet in the kids’ bathroom had been running, on and off, for months. They had become conditioned to jiggle the handle as part of the whole toilet process. You could hear it across the house. Fast clanks, then the filling sound, then silence. On Friday, the lever stopped levering. It hung down, lifeless. “Mom, I can’t jiggle the handle.”

I arrived at the scene with no tools, just annoyance. We will have to call the plumber, something I had been putting off. It is not so inconvenient to jiggle. But this… Meantime, I would investigate. Lifting the lid off of the tank, I saw immediately that the chain had fallen to the bottom of the tank. I could reattach the chain. When I reattached the chain, the long metal stick broke off of the part with the wing nut. I have since learned this technical term. Later that day, we went to Home Depot and bought a new chain/metal stick/wing nut/handle apparatus. I enlisted the aid of my older child, who would act as scrub nurse. We dismantled the old parts, using a wrench to remove a stubborn shaft. There is always a stubborn shaft in a home improvement project. In fifteen minutes, we had installed the new equipment, improvising one of the steps with a pink paperclip.

Then, the test. Flush. Not only did the lever perform superlatively, there was a beautiful quietude afterwards. During the transplant, I had somehow repaired the running. A bonus. A spiritual message. A pat on the self-reliant back. Though the first instinct now is to jiggle, the children are enjoying newfound freedom in simply walking away.


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