Homefull 1.7: Plumbing

The Muse never has to wait very long after we move in before I tangle with the plumbing. A few months after we moved into The Villa Vatta Schmaltz West, I made it rain in the basement when the house was full of weekend guests celebrating my birthday. That encounter included a backhoe digging a trench through the front yard, knocking down an ancient Hawthorne tree and half of a retaining wall, and ended with us rebuilding that retaining wall and sawing up about a year’s supply of fire wood. Plumbing can be like that.

So, when the second night in this new place, the kitchen disposal choked on a cabbage core and defied my vigorous plunging, I emailed the landlord’s property agent. That message failed, rejected by the agent’s server, so I called the next morning, connecting with the agent’s repair agent, who explained that it wasn’t his fault my message failed. Great, I thought, he’s a blame fixer.

I explained my dilemma and he said he’d get back to me. The next day, he sent an email explaining that the lease stipulates (always the fifty cent words when quoting legal documents) that I’m responsible for minor clogs and that I should not cram so much down the disposal. I thanked him for the lecture before explaining that my definition of minor didn’t include unresponsive clogs that resulted in the dishwasher overflow valve spewing drainpipe sour kraut down behind the kitchen cabinets to drip onto the dryer in the basement, but that I could adapt my boundary if needed.

”No,” he retreated in his response—after duly thanking me for my condescension, “we’ll pay for the plumber.” I let him know that I was simply echoing back what he was giving me with his introductory lecture and that it might make sense to presume a bit more generously. “We’ve got plenty of time for me to prove myself a complete idiot. No need to rush that judgement.”

We then decided to just start over, relationship-wise, and wait for the plumber to arrive. Plumbers take a few days to respond to my kind of difficulty, so yesterday, after waiting most of the day for them to show up between ten and two, they showed up at three fifteen. Yea, two of ‘em. A big one called Big Jim and a smaller one who did the hands on work. Since the clog had given way by itself the morning following the incident, this was more of a diagnostic visit. The smaller guy decided to snake out the dishwasher overflow valve, which took all of ten minutes. Inside, they found two small foil stars and a rubber band.

Big Jim and crew promised to return Tuesday before nine to repair the leaky faucet.

I consider my facility for finding weaknesses in the plumbing a gift. Had that cabbage core not clogged the pipe, I might have had to rely upon the property agent’s repair agent to respond to a real emergency. I have the backdoor email address now. Also, we worked through our misconceptions about each other with the toilets still operable. And I’ve met the galoots who will fix my future more-than-minor clogs. I’ve set my expectations appropriately.

I’d rather just call the owner, but the rules for renting in this town insist upon a middleman, which in my experience ends up being a muddle-man. I listened as the plumbers reported to the agent’s repair agent, who I’m sure reported to the property agent, who then reported to the owner. It’s a complicating game of telephone where I’m confident only that the details will get lost in translation, hastening my spiral into my inevitable role as an ever more complete idiot, at least where plumbing’s concerned. Plunger ever in the ready position, I’m moving forward.

©2012 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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