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Things I’m Thinking About While Waiting for the Plumber

July 10, 2013

I’m waiting for the plumber.

Where is the plumber?

It is 2:35.

The plumber was supposed to be here between 2:00 and 3:00.

Which, as everyone knows, means “no later than 2:30.”

Yes, it does.


Okay, it doesn’t.

But still, where is the plumber?


So, as you may have heard, I am waiting for the plumber. It’s part of the continuing saga, All My Shit is Broken, Who Broke All My Shit? Today, the broken item is a clogged bathroom sink drain. It was running a little slow and the eco-friendly baking soda/white vinegar option did nothing, so I broke down and used drain cleaner yesterday, after which it was fine and continued to be fine until about 7:00 this morning, when it stopped draining completely. I read somewhere that drain cleaner sometimes mixes with soap to form a cement-like block in the pipe, so I’m thinking (a) that’s what happened and (b) it’s something of a product flaw.

2:45 and still no plumber.

I haven’t mentioned this yet, but I want to move, which would necessitate selling my house. Over the last several months, I’ve been systematically, by which I of course mean haphazardly, decluttering and painting and repairing, but mainly despairing. I feel like I’ll never get this house ready to sell. Every time I complete one project, something new breaks or falls off or fills up with water. Here’s a thing that’s not supposed to have water in it: the space between the panes of double-paned windows. So why is there water in the space between the panes of my double-paned windows? Because that is the story of my life.

3:03 and still no plumber.

As part of the decluttering process, I’ve sold a couple of hundred books, for which I made the princely sum of 2 buttons and some string. I also found a pair of boots in the back of the closet that I purchased in 2006 and never wore. They were still in the box with the receipt and I got them from Nordstrom, which …


There are two plumbers, which is two more people than I ever want to have in my house. Also, I think one of them might be a trainee, which does not fill me with joy. However, seeing as how I don’t want to brush my teeth in the bathtub, I’ll allow it. They’re going to be cutting into the drain pipe in the basement, which I anticipate will make a lovely grinding noise. Today is really shaping up to be something!

Anyway, the boots. They were from Nordstrom, which has such a liberal return policy that there is an unconfirmed, or at least only occasionally confirmed, story about how someone once successfully returned a car tire to them. I don’t know about that, but I do know that it’s generally pretty easy to return things there. Even so, I bought these boots seven years ago. On the other hand, $230. Enough debate! Let’s go to the store.

Me: I don’t know if you’re going to go for this, but …

Sales Associate [fearful look]: …

Me: I’d like to return these boots that I bought when you were in middle school. Here is my receipt!

Sales Associate [scanning barcodes and punching buttons]: How do you want your money back?

Me: Er … cash?

Sales Associate [handing me cash]: Here you go!

Next time, I’m taking them a tire.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. July 10, 2013 4:16 PM

    $230 for BOOTS? That’s insane.

    Insane cheap or insane expensive? You’re a guy, so I assume you mean insane expensive. It’s been my experience that guys think anything over ten dollars is too much. In any case, I bought them at the Anniversary Sale; regularly priced they were $380, which I would not have paid even though I’m pretty easy on my shoes so I keep them long enough for them to go out of and then back into style.

  2. July 10, 2013 4:32 PM

    Commenting on my own post to say that the real plumber seems to hate the trainee plumber. HATES him. It’s entertaining, but at the same time, I want them to leave.

  3. July 10, 2013 4:38 PM

    Scenes from a bathroom.


    Trainee: [unintelligible mumble]

    Real Plumber [sighing mightily]: You turned that when I was trying to put it on, that’s what happened. Now go out to the truck, get all the rags and Simple Green we have.

    Trainee: Yipe yipe yipe yipe yipe!

    And now I am afraid.

  4. July 10, 2013 5:05 PM

    So glad I clicked over from reader for the comments on this one.

    They finally left and when I crept into the bathroom it all looked normal. Usually when plumbers leave it looks like a crime scene. I still disinfected the hell out of everything though.

  5. Lynne permalink
    July 10, 2013 6:48 PM

    If you take enough stuff back to Nordstrom you might be able to pay for all the mishaps from the trainee. Do they want a receipt? I wonder if they would take my Tupperware.

    I also have a never-worn skirt I bought there in 1998 or 1999 that still has the tags attached. No receipt, although if you have the tags, you don’t need a receipt. I can’t explain why I’ve never either worn it or gotten rid of it; at this point, I think I feel sorry for it.

  6. July 10, 2013 7:10 PM

    Aargh. The plumbers took the sink off the wall to get to the drainpipe and I just now discovered that when they put it back, they moved it slightly to the right and now the bathroom door won’t close. So now I have to get them back here tomorrow. DO NOT WANT.

    This week is never going to end.

  7. July 10, 2013 10:10 PM

    That’s pretty amazing, about them taking the boots back, not about that part where they put the sink too much to the right, that sucks! Hang in there we’re Thursday, it’s been a long week for me too… best of luck with the plumber(s).

    The sink thing strikes me as mildly funny, but not a lot funny. I couldn’t sleep much last night and I think it was because I kept thinking about how I’ve got to have those dumbasses back today. However, my original plan for the afternoon was to take some empty paint cans to the hazardous waste dump, so I’m a little glad I have an excuse not to do that.

  8. July 11, 2013 6:38 PM

    I didn’t know you were trying to sell your house! The inefficiency of having to fix things to sell a house, much less ‘fix it up’ for someone who will only change what you do to move in has always irritated me…it would seem that if life were fair you could have the pleasure of totally letting things go after selling your house…

    I’ve been planning to move for about a year, and the house isn’t ready to go on the market yet, but that’s mainly because as soon as I decided to move everything started breaking right and left. It’s like it knows.

  9. Marius permalink
    July 11, 2013 7:38 PM

    As a board certified man ( you can look it up) I have to A. confirm that any pair of shoes that costs more than $10 better have steel toes, and 2. you say ‘to go out of and then back into style’. I don’t understand that sentence.

    I am greatly enjoying the mental image of the trainee going ‘yipe, yipe, yipe!’

    My dad would always say things like, “Can you believe this? Two dollars and 59 cents! I remember when this was a nickel!” And invariably the year he was remembering was 1943.

    As the plumbers were leaving today, I said, “thank you,” and the trainee exclaimed, “you’re welcome!” Then the plumber, who had done all the work while the trainee stood there holding a rag, gave him the most hilarious dirty look. It was like watching a show about dog obedience school.

  10. Cat Boy permalink
    July 20, 2013 6:34 AM

    I had a plumber install a pedestal sink for me a few years ago and he was muttering under his breath the whole time. Actually, it may have been murmuring since muttering suggests he was annoyed and he was not. He was, in fact, very nervous and very squirrely. I think it was because he knew he did not know the correct way to attach a sink to a wall, and was trying to give himself a very quiet pep talk.

    The pep talk didn’t do any good, I had to reattach that sink within a few months.

    I have a theory that plumbers are either very good or completely incompetent, and there’s no in-between. The very good plumbers are generally also honest, but this may or may not be true of the incompetent ones. I suspect Trainee will eventually be very honest and also incompetent, but many years ago I had one here who was not only incompetent and dishonest but also tried to flirt with me by saying suggestive things involving his snake. Pretty sure that guy watched a lot of porn in his spare time.

    I also have pedestal sinks in my bathrooms, but I kind of regret getting them. They look pretty, but if there’s plumbing work to be done, they’re a pain and sometimes have to be taken apart. Also, when I’m cleaning the floors there’s that moment where I have to go sight unseen behind the pedestal base and I’m always afraid. I’ve never encountered anything back there but dust, but I always anticipate something terrible. Next time I’m going with a cabinet.

  11. Bex permalink
    July 25, 2013 11:02 AM

    Huh. Target won’t even let me return a baby bottle warmer thingy that costs $20 without either a receipt or gift receipt! It was a baby shower gift that never got used. They made me look up the baby registry but being that it was about a year ago, well…Wonder if Kate Duchess of Cambridge needs one?

    I’ve returned things to Target a couple of times with no problem, but I always had a cash receipt. I’ve found that gift receipts are useless almost everywhere. As for Kate, she probably already has an Earl or a Viscount to hold bottles in his armpits until George is hungry.

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