The Mystery of Our Plumbing Heroes!
Posted on June 4, 2013
I was outside my house the other day when I witnessed the extraordinary sight of my neighbour worshiping a man leaving her house by using powerful words such as “hero” and “life saver.”
Was this gentleman a surgeon who had just carried out lifesaving heart surgery? Was he a brave police officer who had foiled an armed burglar? Hell no, he was a plumber of course, a man whose trade has somehow reached a ludicrous state of elevation.
After I questioned my neighbour, it became apparent that he had replaced a U-Bend in the bathroom that had become so badly blocked that she had been forced to lose her dignity by not being able to bathe or shower for approximately 48 hours. It’s a tough world we live in and I am sure that the millions of people starving to death in Africa would have felt her pain.
Despite being a day later than he had originally informed her because of a previous job that had run over schedule (plumbers need to be on the golf course by 3.00pm) he apparently carried out the task with moderate efficiency despite having to go to the wholesalers for an hour to have cup of coffee and a general bitch about fellow tradesmen being cowboys.
For the hour and a half he was there, he charged £135.00, undoubtedly spending most of his time tutting, sucking his teeth and muttering to himself (but loud enough for general earshot) about the “bloody cowboys” who had done the original job. By operating this con trick the plumber cannot only justify his fee, he can also guarantee the reward of being granted biblical status by the general public who are just happy to have a shower again.
Because of the business I operate, I work closely with all aspects with of the building trade and I kind of feel sorry for the electricians, decorators, carpenters and bricklayers who perpetually fail to reach similar heights of adoration from their clients for the work they are being paid to undertake. It is extremely rare that a decorator for instance, will get such outrageous adulation on a client’s doorstep for doing a great job on glossing panelled doors; something that in my experience, is harder than replacing a plastic U-Bend.
So why do plumbers receive such an elevated status?
I believe that the answer may come from the fact it is in our DNA to live in fear of running water and human turds. If for example, we are painting our walls and we accidentally get emulsion on the skirting board, we can simply wipe it off with a damp rag.
However, if we are brave enough to tighten a nut on a copper pipe, we are facing potential disaster as we sprint around our homes searching for stop cocks and turning on all the taps in misguided attempt to drain the tank before we swim to safety. Anyone who has spilt milk or water on the floor with the regular occurrence that I manage, will know that even a small amount of liquid goes a long way.
My worst experience of this came when I rented an office in a Victorian building in the centre of Basingstoke and arrived one morning to see a small jet of vapour coming out of a copper pipe joint in the corner of the room. It seemed a minuscule amount but the carpet was already sodden and I soon got a visit from the veterinary practice manager from downstairs to say there was a growing water mark on their ceiling. I had no choice but to take responsibility and I raced downstairs to find an adjustable spanner in the boot of my car.
Anyone who knows me well enough will have already pictured in the eye of their minds the catastrophe that followed. With one turn of the nut there was a sickening crack and the small jet of vapour instantly turned into the Niagara Falls. Within minutes the ceiling downstairs caved in on top of a host of sick and no doubt, bemused animals, who were led out two by two in what was rapidly becoming a 21st Century sequel to the tale of Noah’s Ark.
I scrambled through my phone and eventually got hold of a guy called Barry who had worked on some of the same projects as me in the past. Barry strutted in like Superman, stopped the flow of water and welded the pipe back together in approximately twenty minutes; all for the paltry sum of £200. It was exploitation of the highest order, but he knew and I knew that if he had said a thousand pounds, there was little I could do about it. As with the deluded woman above, I virtually fell to my knees to worship the robbing bastard.
Since that day, with the aid of a “Plumbing for Twats” manual, I have learnt about the location of stop cocks and I even know how to re-seat a tap and push a turd down a toilet with a long coil. I avoid plumbers whenever possible, they are institutionally merciless, opportunist bastards who manipulate cash from clients who are beset with the kind of panic that only water can cause. To add salt to the wound, they expect their arrogance and perpetually poor time keeping to be respected and admired by their beleaguered clients who have just suffered full scale open wallet surgery.
Does anyone know of any courses going?