A cup of tea won’t fix it.

The problem:
One toilet that doesn’t flush properly.
One wife who is convinced a repair kit from Lowe’s is the solution.
One husband, a former Mr. Fix-it who, sadly, only fixes cups of tea these days.
Same wife who is a bumble-thumbs, but who can read instructions.
Same former Mr. Fix-it, frustrated, refuses to listen to instructions.
Result: None.
Action: Call plumber.

Another problem:
Frigid temperatures locally, similar to those all over the country. Thus, when I, aka bumble-thumbed wife, called the usually ever-ready, quick-response plumbing company, I was told, “All our plumbers are out fixing frozen pipes.”

“Well, we have two other bathrooms, so our problem isn’t urgent,” I said. She promised to work us in as soon as possible.

A week passed and then, wouldn’t you know, the master bathroom toilet started spewing water out the top of the tank. I sopped up the flood with old towels and called for help again. “Just wanted to make sure you haven’t forgotten us,” I said, “we’re down to one toilet now.”

“You’re still on the list, but our guys are still working ’round the clock. Let me see what I can do, but it might be first of next week…”

It was Friday, 11:30 a.m.

A few hours later the phone rang. “You have a flushing problem?” a pleasant male voice asked. “I can be there in fifteen minutes, OK?”

Was it ever!  I rushed around squirting cleaner into the bowls, and doing a general bathroom spritz. It wouldn’t do for a plumber to see a messy bathroom.

He was prompt. I showed him into bathroom number one where husband Peter’s tools, the replacement float kit, and assorted old towels still littered the floor. “Hm, someone has been busy,” he said. “Easy fix though.” He added something about bent tubes and slow flow. Guy talk.

“There’s another problem too?” he asked.

I led him upstairs to bathroom number two. “Hm, angle’s wrong…water spurts sideways, hits the side of the tank and spills onto the floor. Quick fix.”

I almost laughed. Sounded like a male plumbing problem to me. “Well, since you’re here,” I said, “I think the toilet in the guest bathroom might have problems too.  The handle is hard to push down.”

“Won’t take long to fix any of these. I’ll still be able to make my three o’clock appointment.”

Time: 2:20 p.m. Friday.

Within minutes the first toilet was flushing merrily.  He headed upstairs to work on the master bathroom and I returned here to my desk to finish “Something to sneeze at.”  Just then I heard Peter, in the basement, yelling, “THIS SINK IS FILLING UP WITH WATER!”  I dashed upstairs to my new best friend.

He rocketed down the two flights the way a fireman skitters down a ladder. “Whooie, I’ve never had this happen,” he said.  He immediately started banging the black sewer pipe that looms the length of the basement. I’d heard that deep bass-toned, solid thunk before. It bellowed “clogged sewer pipe” at me.

Don’t use any water,” he cautioned and, of course, right then I needed to.

“When it rains, it pours,” I joked, feebly.

He shook his head. “Seventeen years and I’ve never had three toilets and a clogged sewer line in the same house, on the same day.”

This guy was terrific. He spread an old towel, pink, inside the kitchen door before he lugged an anaconda-sized snake and other scungy equipment to the basement.  What a thoughtful thing to do when dealing with someone else’s…business. After several futile calls to his plumber cohorts he was able to clear the sewer line by himself and finish fixing the toilets. “Have a nice weekend,” he said as he headed to another emergency.

“Thanks! You too.”

“Oh, I’ll probably have to work all weekend,” he said, still smiling.

Time: 6:03 p.m.





12 thoughts on “A cup of tea won’t fix it.

    • How could I forget that frigid night, poor little Sam and Gram huddling together under coats to keep warm, while BH&P guys worked on your boiler. Note to self: possible post idea!


  1. What a guy! You’ll have to share his name unless he’s like an old family recipe and can’t be given out! But he is definitely your new BFF! Yay!


  2. Whatta day you had–better keep your plumber guy on speed dial! Loved your story (words like ‘scungy’ so descriptive!)but not the memories it conjured up as Plumbing Problems were always our Nemesis, especially the early days in Columbia Twp. 😦 Calling in a plumber was unthinkable at that time in our lives. Thankfully not now. Bill has relinquished most doityourself jobs to the pros!


  3. I love this story and what a good, happy plumber! Good thing Peter was down in the basement when all thestarting backed backing up or was it going forward!!!!!


  4. Sorry to hear about your plumbing problems. What a nice guy to work so hard for you. Hope it didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Wonder if the cold had something to do with the clog.


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