Return of the philosophical plumber

In August, a plumber came by to fix the toilet and we had an exchange about the rock in the tank. He said that even though it doesn’t accomplish anything, the rock should stay right where it is: “It’s found its natural place of rest. You wouldn’t want to disturb the natural order of the universe.”

He returned last week to fix a kitchen faucet that had gone from drip-drip-dripping to emitting a steady stream of water, 24 hours a day.

My landlady, he reported, had just returned from a short vacation (who knew?) and had come down with something, probably on the plane home. “All those germs and gunk floating around in that recirculated air,” he said with a shudder. “It’s like licking a public water fountain.”

His assistant groaned, as did I.

“Too much? Maybe that wasn’t the best analogy,” the plumber admitted.

We discussed pay phones, a past source of germ spreading. You know, talking into a mouthpiece that may not have been wiped down in a long time.

I mentioned the oddity of businesses that have removed a pay phone but left behind the wooden carrel (I don’t know what else to call it) that once held the phone, with its shelf below for a nonexistent phone book. This fixture is instantly recognizable to most of us, but anyone under the age of, say, 10 would have no idea what it once was. I guess these objects are too much trouble to remove. Either that, or everyone’s waiting for a pay phone revival.

The faucet was duly fixed, the water flow stanched. I thanked them; the round-the-clock stream of water gurgling down the drain had put me on edge.

“It’s the drip that will get you,” the plumber’s assistant said sympathetically. “It’s like getting waterboarded in your own home.”

The plumber got the last word. “We’ve left you with all kinds of interesting visuals today, haven’t we?”

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  • Ramona

    My minimal dealing with plumbers has yet to put me in touch with any who even speak as they work. Except to tell you the exorbitant end cost.

    What a treasure that fellow is.

    • davidallen909



    “These tales of impending doom allowed the Golgafrinchans to rid
    themselves of an entire useless third of their population. The story was
    that they would build three Ark ships. Into the A ship would go all the
    leaders and scientists, and other achievers. Into the C ship were
    supposed to the people who made things and did things, and into the B
    ark would go everyone else, such as hairdressers and telephone
    sanitizers. They sent the B ship off first, but of course the other
    two-thirds of the population stayed on the planet and lived full, rich,
    and happy lives until they were all ironically wiped out by a virulent
    disease contracted from a dirty telephone.”

  • Stanched, that a new one for me.

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