Okay, mom. Since you requested it. And since it's your birthday (love you!), here you go - your favorite post.
Today I discovered the problem with never having a plumbing issue arise...
You don't have any "tried and true" plumbers at-the-ready to call when you do have something come up. So when there's a need, you then find yourself neck-deep in ten pages of Yellow Pages ads, basically just taking a chance with whichever ad looks the most competent (...or the biggest).
Truth be told, we really weren't even aware that we had any plumbing issues until after the inspection the other day, when Ms. Super Anal Inspector came out and made a Need-To-Fix-It List:
1.) A kitchen faucet that drips ever so often. (Basically, she said it needed a new washer.)
2.) A slightly loose toilet. (She said it probably just needed to have the bolts tightened at the base.)
3.) A shower stall that needed some caulking. (Self-explanatory, even for me.)
4.) A bathtub faucet with the stops set incorrectly. (She thought it probably needed a new cylinder. Whatever that is. Whatever that does. She said it was potentially the most "involved" issue on the list.)
All of these things she described as "fairly minor, but needing addressing". So I asked Russ what he wanted to do, and he said he didn't trust himself not to create a bigger mess -- to just call a plumber.
I did my research. I did some calling. I made my selection:
The ad with the friendly-looking plumber holding a wrench (not in a Serial Killer way).
This afternoon, they sent over my plumber. Fresh from the womb. Seriously, this kid had to still be in middle-school, working a summer job for his dad or grandpa.
Even if he just had a baby face (the ultimate baby face), he still could not have been over eighteen. I tried not to panic or let my face register shock. I opened the door for him and saw his skateboard parked on the sidewalk. ...I told myself to take a deep breath. There are brilliant, gifted children in this world. Think positive. Remember Doogie Howser.
He asked me: "So, what's the deal, dude?" (Not lying. DUDE. Hey, young Whipper Snapper, that's Mrs. Dude to you!)
I almost turned him around and escorted him right back out the door. But instead, I ignored the Inner Voice and led him over to the kitchen sink.
Him: "Oh, man. You should replace that cheap faucet with a new nicer one. I can get you one for $100."
Me: "No, thank you. The house is sold. The new owner can put a nicer one in if he wants to. I just want to replace the washer so that it doesn't drip."
Him: "Oh, man...you sure 'bout that?"
Me: "Yes. I most certainly am."
I left him there fiddling with things and went to get Sophie up from her nap. I returned to pieces of faucet parts scattered all over the counter...and LOTS of sighing.
Me: "Is something wrong?"
Him: "Well. No. ...Well, yeah, actually. I couldn't really get the handle off. And when I turned this thing really hard, it bent my Allen Wrench. And now it won't go back on for some reason. ...So you really probably need to buy a new faucet. A new one will only run you around $100."
Me: "Um. ...No. I think you just need to figure out how to get that handle back on."
Him: "Yeah. Okay. Just first let me take a look at that faucet upstairs."
So Insane Kristy led him upstairs and pointed to the bathtub faucet.
Then I went back downstairs to syringe Sophs her juice (hearing WHACK...BANG...POUND sounds above us). When we walked upstairs there were pieces of metal faucet innards scattered all over the floor. Sophie was thrilled. "Mama! Look!!"
Him: "Yeah. So what did you say the problem with this one was?"
Hmm. Perhaps that would have been an excellent question to ask BEFORE you disassembled it.
Me: "Well, I don't really know for sure. I just know the Inspector said the stops need to be reset on the faucet."
Him: (Smiling.) "The stops? What do you mean?"
Me: "Are you making a joke?"
Him: "No. I mean. Look here, dude. What stops? There's cold and there's hot. (As he's turning the knob back-and forth to demonstrate.) And both work. See the C and the H...and the arrow between them? Here. Put your finger under here."
I could feel Scary Me coming on.
Me: "I know the hot and cold work. From what I understood the Inspector to say, the problem is more timing and flow related."
Him: "Oh. Well. I don't know. It's just that this one is not like the one I'm used to."
Me: Twitchy. And RED and sweaty.
Him: "I can caulk those cracks for you. ...But I don't have white caulk to match. I just have clear. Is clear okay? The cracks will be sealed, but you'll still be able to see them."
Me: (Significant pause. Followed by a fairly large intake of breath. Then I put my Master-Of-The-Obvious hat on.) "So you're saying what? ...You can't fix the plumbing problems?"
Him: "Well, I can go over to Home DePot. I might can find a part that would work. If I can't, I'll just charge you the $150 for my labor."
I guess that's around when my head exploded.
That's also about the time I found myself reaching for the phone (with him staring at me) to place a call to the owner of the Plumbing Establishment. Upon learning his worker child's impending fate, the owner requested I hand Fetus Plumber the phone.
Discussion ensued. Brows furrowed. Dude was replaced with Whoa, Dude. And that's when the I've-Been-Called-To-The-Principal's-Office look occurred and dear Justin told me he had to leave and someone else would come over tomorrow.
Man. I felt like the Mean Hall Monitor.
So now we have a hole (an actual hole) where our kitchen faucet used to be. The "stops" on our bathroom faucet are even more funkified and non-stoppy than they were before. And now when you turn the knob, it makes this noise: Ddda-ddda-ddddpt. Loudly.
Which means I either have to take a chance with whomever gets sent over tomorrow. Or I have to sit down with the Yellow Pages again and play Pick-A-Plumber Roulette.
Somebody remind me, please. Is it considered Poor Parenting Form to slam whiskey shots while your three year old is watching?
(This post was originally published August 13, 2007.)