It's not about the house.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Snip, Snap, Snout.

Continued from the post below.

Whoops. No. Not the post below. Toblerone stands up pretty well all by its lonesome. I meant to say the post
below the post below.

With me now? Okay.

Pretty much by the time I reached the car in the Home Depot parking lot, I knew I wasn’t going to use the waterproofing tape. I just wasn’t convinced the leaking pipe needed to be torn out and replaced like the Home Depot Plumbing Guy suggested, and something told me that if I taped over the joint I might make it more difficult to fix properly later.

But oh well. The tape only cost $7.49, and I’m sure it will come in handy for something else. If there’s one sure thing about life at the AssVac, it’s that something is bound to need waterproofing sooner or later. You can make book on that, and tell 'em Prudence sent you.

So I drove the twelve miles home, debating: Would I call Andy after all? Would I do dishes in the bathroom sink and leave the leak for Johnny? Or would I drop a match and “accidentally” burn the house down? I could see pros and cons for each one of these perfectly reasonable resolutions.

And then, as I came around the rotary on the other side of the Fore River Bridge, I saw my answer. Cue rays of light from heaven and Zarathustra music, please…

Mazzini Plumbing Specialties! Old Skool!

Since the AssVac lies just the other side of that same bridge, I'd always known this store was there – I'd even been inside a few times (okay, once) – but I'd forgotten. Now that I remembered, I knew exactly what to do.

I went home, got my trusty camera (for which I had fortunately purchased new a new battery that very afternoon), went down cellar, and took a picture of the leaky pipe.

I know, I'm brilliantin', amn't I?

Although, huh. As it turns out, that's not so much an elbow joint at all (like I told the Home Depot guy it was, after I said a couple other, even wronger things).

Oh, well.

I also, while I was down there, upended the empty bucket (the drip was dry, since I hadn’t run the water in two days), clambered onto it, and laid hands on the pipe itself. I figured I might as well see if it was glued. The man at the Home Depot had wanted to know, so there was a chance the Mazzini Plumbing guy would ask me, too.

It wasn’t. I could pull the two pieces clean apart. Considering that Home Depot Guy said we needed to cut the pipe out and replace it only “if it had been glued,” I took this for good news. So I headed with my good news – and the camera – back over the bridge and around the rotary.

There were two guys behind the counter at Mazzini’s. One looked kind of like this:

And the other, kind of like this:

I chose door #1.

“I wonder if you could help me out,” I started. “I’ve got a leaky pipe in my basement, and I brought a picture of it—”

“Great!” said Joey.

“Let’s see!” said the old man.

So I pulled out the camera and I called up the shot. I tried to hand the camera to them, but they did not reach out their hands. They just bent over and peered at the little screen – Old Man over Joey’s shoulder – while I tried to guess at the optimal viewing angle for them with the overhead fluorescent lights. After a few seconds, I gave up.

“You can go ahead and take the camera,” I suggested.

“Gee, thanks!” said the old man. “I could use a new one! Ha ha!”

I tell you, these guys were chock full of exclamation points.

Joey took the camera from me, gingerly, and when he looked at the screen again his face went pale. Oh, shit. Shit! What? Just tell me. Whatever it is, tell me. I can take it.

“I did something,” he said. “I hit something. I hit this button over here, and now it's gone all black.”

“Oh! That’s okay. That’s what that button does. I only figured it out myself a few weeks ago. Here, give it to me.” I may not know much about plumbing, but at least I don't go around breaking cameras by touching them. Not anymore, anyway. Or yet.

I took the thing back and got the screen working again, called the picture up and handed it back over. Joey took it, this time by the corners – where there were no buttons to be accidentally pushed – and he examined the picture right up close.

“Looks to me,” he said, “like the pipe was never glued.” Old Man wasn't paying attention anymore, having taken a quick glance and turned to root around for something on the shelves behind them.

“What you want to do,” Joey continued, “is – can you pull it apart at the joint? Do you know?”

Why, yes, on both counts. Yes, I thought to check that out before I came here. And yes, indeed, I can pull it apart at the joint. (Dig me, having answers to the questions people ask!)

“Right,” he said. “What you want to do is take a bit of sandpaper and sand it down. Sand the pipe and inside the joint. Then clean it – pipe and joint – and cement it, also inside and out. Put the cement on, slide the pipe in right away, and hold it for thirty seconds or so to let it set. That ought to do the trick.”

“So I clean it with what? Rubbing alcohol?”

“Nope,” says Joey. “He’s setting you up right now.” And thunk, Old Man set a tiny can down on the counter, labeled Whitlam Clear Cleaner. And thunk (or actually more like tink, considering they were so small) another one, labeled PVC Cement.

(For comparison’s sake, that’s my Toblerone behind them. And no, I did not open it and eat one already – why?)

“Great!” I said! Those exclamation points are catching! “So what do I apply the cement with? Does it matter?”

“There’s a brush right on the lid – see?” and Joey opened up the cleaner-can to demonstrate.

Well, I’ll be. What they won't come up with next.

Old Man rung me up. “That’ll be $8.17, please. Hell of a lot cheaper than a plumber!”

“You got that right, boys!”

As I turned to go out the door, somebody I didn’t see hollered out from behind some rows of shelves: “Hey! Did she pay the consulting fee?!”

And we all had a good, exclamation-pointy laugh.

So I went home and I fixed it. I couldn’t, as it turned out, pull the pipe apart enough to clean the inside of the joint, but I did the best I could. I put extra-globby amounts of cement on the pipe before I shoved it in, and I held it for a full minute instead of the thirty seconds recommended. I also, for good measure, painted a little cement around the seam when I was finished. And, just to be safe, I continued to not wash dishes for another day or so. But when I eventually did, my patch job held.

Andy called to check in on me that night after it passed the washing-dishes test, and I was so excited to tell him what I’d done. He let me tell the story from beginning to end, the same long-winded way I’ve just now finished telling you, and he made all the appropriate ooh-ah noises at the proper times. But when I was done, after laughing and congratulating me, he said: “Yeah. I told that little troll what he had to do before he left.”

Troll. It's what Andy calls Johnny when he's being silly. I think it has something to do with Johnny's diminutive size, although I always thought trolls were big old hairy things that lived under bridges.

Anyway, when Johnny stepped off of the plane last night, I told him this whole story – shortened a bit, because he already knew about the leak and stuff, but also including what Andy had told me the night before. And do you know what
he said?

“I know. But I didn’t have any of the cement.”

Well, maybe if you’d come out from under your
bridge once in a while, troll!


su said...

Ya gotta love the old school Mom and pop operations for everything. They are good folks don't overcharge, stand behind what they sell and are so helpful. From gorcers to dount shops and everything before and after. Walmart has it's place but give me Somerville Lumber and the Nook Donuts again and I will rest easy. The nook made donuts
2 kinds. hand cut plain and hand cut cinnamon/sugar. But if you wanted them to they would dredge a plain in powdered sugar. I can hear my arteries slamming shut. But they were good folks. Now there is a Dunkin Dumin. Puke said...


Great story!!!!!

I love exclamation points!!!!!


I can't stop!!!!!

Henson modelled the other character, 'Statler' after the Fiance's grandfather. True story. I should blog that at some point!!!!

Jenni said...

Yippie Yay!! for Joey, the muppet guy and old school plumbing stores!

Chris said...

I see that the old skool plumbers have a website!!
I think old Skool does not mean what it used to mean..

donnastaf said...

I just cracked up over those pictures of the plumbing guys...Hilarious when you scrolled down...

pork luck said...

It took me all day to read this story.. you know, what with having to pretend to work and stuff when the boss comes thru.. but well worth it! I might even read it again.