Category Archives: embarrassing stories

Plumbing joke

Our kitchen faucet has been dripping for months. Unlike so many other problems that fix themselves when I ignore them, this one just got worse.

When I mentioned to a plumber that I was reasonably handy,* he said it wouldn’t be difficult to replace the faucet’s cartridge. I believed him (my first mistake) and promptly fell into one of my oldest and most familiar traps: “I should be able to do this.” After all, why would I want to pay a professional who knows what they’re doing and could do it quickly, and thereby deprive myself of the injuries, the aggravation, and repeated trips to the hardware store?

* Probably time to re-examine this assumption

One of the plumbing people at McLendon Hardware sold me the $25 cartridge and loaned me a special tool to help remove the old one. Despite applying all of my might, I failed to get the cartridge out. I did, however, succeed in destroying the faucet.

Back to the hardware store. Returned the $25 part and selected a new faucet for about $180. Now for the simple matter of removing what was left of the old faucet.

No, sir. The twisted metal would not yield, even to the persuasion of an almost two-foot-long pipe wrench. I grunted, thrashed, sweat, swore, and bellowed. I cut my hand on some jagged metal, producing plenty of blood but no progress.

Enter Zack. “How can I help, Dad?” Were there ever sweeter words from a 16 year-old? He crawled under the sink, studied the situation with a flashlight, and soon discovered a hidden nut holding the ruined assembly in place. A few smart turns later and the old faucet was out.

Against all better judgment I had started this project late in the afternoon and it was now almost 11:00 on Sunday evening – time to go to bed. Dirty dishes sat piled up on the counters, and a big assortment of tools and the contents of the under-sink cabinet covered the kitchen floor. Not a good way to end a day or a weekend…

Monday morning I set the new faucet in place and realized one of the supply lines would not fit the existing shutoff valve. Hardware store trip #3. While there I told this joke (one of my Dad’s favorites) to the woman at the plumbing counter:

A plumber had just spent 20 minutes fixing a leak in the basement of a doctor’s home. When he presented his bill for $750, the doctor’s jaw dropped. “You haven’t even been here 30 minutes, and you’re charging me $750? I can’t afford that!”

The plumber nodded. “I know – I couldn’t either when I was a doctor.”

Happily the new faucet went in without further incident. No drips. No leaks. Looks good and works perfectly.

Zack saved the day and my few remaining scraps of sanity. When I apologized to him for being severely frustrated, he said, “I would have been frustrated, too.” What an awesome kid. Maybe when I grow up, I can be as mature as he is.

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Contrite: feeling or showing sorrow

Merriam-Webster tells us that “contrite” comes from the Latin word that means “to grind, bruise.”  Ouch.  It means “feeling or showing sorrow and remorse for a sin or shortcoming, as in a contrite criminal or  a contrite apology,  or  contrite sighs.”

Can one laugh and still be contrite?  You tell me:

This morning was my turn to drive the girls’ carpool to school.  It rained hard last night and was still coming down as we made our way in rush hour traffic along a street filled with potholes and narrow lanes of traffic.  Big construction projects crowd both sides of the street.  We were in the curb lane and moving about 20 mph when I heard a big spooooooooshhhh.  It wasn’t the short spoosh of a small puddle but the smooth and satisfying sound of a longer one.  I hadn’t even seen the puddle ahead, and if I had, cars on my immediate left would have prevented me from skirting around it.  No big deal – I love driving through big puddles — unless someone’s there.

And someone was there, standing on the sidewalk right in front of the puddle.  Didn’t get a good look at him but had the impression of a pony tail or dreadlocks.  Overcoat but no suit.

As you can see from my self-defensive justification, I don’t know if I could have avoided doing this terribly unfriendly thing.  I honestly didn’t see the puddle.  I felt bad – contrite – about being so un-neighborly.  Who needs to start their day like that, suddenly getting doused with a wall of water while you’re just standing there minding your own business?

Lauren had a bird’s-eye view from the passenger seat and was laughing hysterically.  The first words out of my mouth were, “Oh no.  Did I get him?” She was doubled over and could only nod as if to say, “Are you kidding?” She hadn’t seen the puddle coming up either.  But these things never happen to you, and surely your own Dad wouldn’t be so thoughtless, so inattentive, so brazen as to actually drive through a puddle and soak an innocent bystander, would he?

I started to laugh as the cartoonish nature of the scene hit me.  Easy for me, of course, still warm and dry in the car and not dripping wet on the sidewalk.  But my conscience required me to confess my crime to the other ladies in the car.

* * * * * * * * * *

To that guy:  I’m sorry for having nailed you this morning, and I hope that you received some more welcome surprises today than the one I gave you.
To Lauren – was it okay for me to laugh even while feeling contrite about what happened?  I think I hope so.