Sunday, July 1, 2012

Where the heck is the shut off valve?

Last week the outdoor spigot would not turn off and water was shooting out. I was so horrified, I dragged a stranger walking on my street and made him find the turn off valve. When I reached my plumber and screamed emergency he told me to turn the water back on and use the hose sprayer as a valve until he could get there.   It was not an emergency, he added.  

A week went by. My plumber came by this Sunday afternoon. He came unannounced, knocking on the back door.
“I realized that I forgot all about you and hadn’t fixed the outdoor faucet,” he said.
“Huh?”  I was the deer caught in headlights times two.
“I’m going to turn the water off to the house,” he said.
“Okay.”  Next to my agent, the person that turns me into a catatonic 12 year old is my plumber.  I never feel I deserve the plumber.  I’m not good enough. 
“But it’s Sunday,” I said.  “How can I buy the new part?”
“I’m going to fix the one you have,” he said.

It was a pleasant afternoon and there was a breeze on the deck so I sat and watched him and we chatted about things going on in our town.  He showed me what was wrong with the faucet.  It was the little rubber thing, the washer. He said, “I’m going to give you a beveled washer so it will last longer.”

 When he was done, he was in no hurry to leave and we continued to chat.  I offered him a beer and he accepted.  He wanted to amuse me with plumbing horror stories and began to tell me about basements flooding the way they do in cartoons - all the way to the top.  He even went and got his computer and showed me what I can only describe as plumbing porn - horrid things that had happened with do-it-yourselfers.

He also showed me how he could control entire state of the art plumbing systems in far away houses right from his computer. He said, “Look, this guy is taking a shower.”  I said, “Could you turn off his water in the middle of it?”
“Yes,” he said, “I could.  Right here from my computer.”
It was such a wacky turn of events that he could have told me Chateauneuf du Pape, 2008 would come out of my hose spigot and I would have believed him.

We talked about what we would do with a couple of million dollars and both decided we wouldn’t change much in our lives - maybe take a leisurely trip across the United States in a camper.  Finally, I went to get money to pay him and we said our good-byes.  A plumber on Sunday afternoon?  Arriving on his own and fretting that he had forgotten about me? I’m going to try the faucet and see if it works. Maybe I dreamt the whole thing.


  1. can you get him over here this week? our water pressure is weak.

    1. andy, this is Lidia. I was talking to amy coe (do you remember her? one of costanza's best friends from college, along with danielle berlin) on the 23rd of june in honor of the 21st anniversary of costanza's death and i thought about all the people costanza knew in college who meant a great deal to her. So of course you came to mind. How are you doing? where are you? what are you doing? i gather from the picture you have two little kids :)
      email me if you have a chance (or interest -- it's been a while) at

  2. Yes, I was wondering if he traveled very far distances. Now, that's service! And I'd definitely like to see if he can get that Chateauneuf du Pape out of our spigot.

  3. i have underground sprinklers that i haven't turned on this season....thinking how much healthier i'll feel if i do "hands-on" things. like make my own pizza rather than order in. but watering my lawn with one hose (150 feet long) is ridiculous. but so am i at times.

    the other night i got it into my head - oh! what would i do if the faucet won't shut off? what then? and now i read this. we are on the same plane, maybe thinking about the same camper. you should get one and head out here with the plumber. by the time you get here i will need a beveled washer.


    1. Any water coming out of any opening that I can't control is the scariest although now I know where the shut off valve is.

  4. knowing where your shut-off valve is located is one of the most empowering pieces of knowledge we can have. and as a poet, i can take that metaphor and run with it.

    and i had to come back and tell you that "my plumber" stopped by while i was getting ready for work tuesday morning- and he saw how my outside faucet was spraying/leaking. he said, didn't you put the washer on the hose before you connected it to the faucet? and right way i thought:he's going to get me my own beveled washer!!

    and he did.

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