The plumber, whose name (I swear – I’m not making this up) is John, is sitting with Michael at the kitchen table when I get home from work.
Michael had already gotten a receipt. I know, from previous experiences, that this exchange usually takes place after the work is done. So, when John all too cheerily blurted out, “Hi there. Your toilet’s broken,” it was difficult not to say, “Gee, this is awkward – I thought you were the plumber.” Instead, I simply said, “Yeah, I was the one who called.” Then I put down the groceries I had brought in and went back out to the car for another load. It was on this trip out to the car that I noticed the toilet which, to my knowledge, had never lived in our garage before, but which was now sitting there proud as you please. If it had been a snake or a shark or even a lamb on Valium, it might have bitten me – that’s how close I was to it when I had walked by it the first time. My powers of observation are keen indeed.
Immediately humbled and sorry for wrongly thinking before that John might well be a moron, I grabbed more groceries from the trunk, and upon re-entering the kitchen, asked him, “So what’s up?”
John explained to me that he was busying himself tightening the thingamabobber on the toilet which used to reside in the master bath when the tank cracked right down the side.
Having noticed that my eyes were none too sharp and that he was, in all likelihood, dealing with a moron, he pointed in the direction of the toilet in question to better illustrate his meaning.
So, that evening, after John had gone on his merry way, we made a family outing to Lowe’s and bought a brand- spanking-new toilet, which John would install for us the very next day. Michael said that from now on when we had plumbing jobs, John wanted us to call him directly instead of phoning the company.
No doubt, Michael is a plumber’s wet-dream. So, whenever I think about that conversation taking place, I can’t help but visualize Michael and John the Plumber happily running toward each other over a field of flowers – Michael with a wad of money in hand and John with his plunger.
The next day, John made good on his word. He fixed the toilet at a reasonable rate, and finished the job before I got home from work. He also told Michael a story, which, in my opinion, is as good a story as you’ll ever hear. If it’s not true, I don’t care, because the way I see it, I’m getting in on the ground floor of what’s sure to be an urban legend.
A Plumber’s Tale
John is using a snake to clear a clog in a toilet drain for a guy. They guy is hanging out with him and watching him work. John keeps pulling condoms one by one out of the drain pipe. After watching John pull about thirty of them out of there, the guy asks, “So, what are those things you keep finding?” John answers back, “Well, they’re condoms, sir.” The guy looks stunned, goes suddenly pale, and tells John that he’s had a vasectomy for fifteen years.
Not surprisingly, he also murmurs something about divorce.
My first instinct when Michael told me that story was to be pissed off.
See, I’ve had dealings with John in the past and he never got chummy enough with me to tell me any cool plumber stories. Nor, for that matter, had he ever offered to do any work for me on the “down low.” “What”, I thought, “is that about? Am I not good enough to tell your stories to, Plumber Man?”
Then it occurred to me what must’ve happened.
See, Michael doesn’t talk to people. Sometimes, if they’re lucky, he’ll answer them. But, he never attempts to make small talk. He’s not a social person.
Socially, Michael tends to totter between being either incredibly rude or shy to the point of dysfunction… Let’s just say, he can make people uncomfortable.
Let’s also say, he’s the type of person who will stare at you while you fix his toilet.
While we’re saying those things, we might also say that Nazis confessed to countless atrocities under only slightly less pressure than poor John the plumber was under the day he told that story to Michael. In fact, I’ve often thought that if we could force suspected terrorists to hang out alone with my husband for a couple of hours, the bastards would talk. Oh, they’d talk alright.
So, now you understand (as I do) that John the plumber doesn’t like Michael better than he does me. He doesn’t. I’m not jealous. There’s no need to be. Shut up. You don’t know him at all. I’m outta here.