Friday, March 30, 2012
SLICE #30- A WAY MORE TYPICAL SLICE OF LIFE
Last night, my book club went to see Hunger Games, then for a bite to eat afterwards. After a terrific evening- great movie, great conversation, lots of laughter- I got home about ten. When I walked in the door, I could hear water running. The bathroom door was shut, so I assumed one of the boys was in the bathroom. A few minutes later, Kadeem walks out of his bedroom.
"I'm going to bed. Good night," he says, in one of those, you didn't do a good job mothering me/you should have been home cooking dinner" designed to induce mommy guilt voices.
"Where's the water running?" I say.
"Toilet," says Kadeem, shutting his door with a little more intensity than I thought necessary.
I resume my running water detective work, knocking softly on the bathroom door. "Isaiah?" I say, in my most pleasant mother/detective voice.
Isaiah doesn't answer. The door is ajar so I push it open just a little. No one is in there, but the toilet is, in fact, running like crazy. I take off the lid, preparing to move from detective to plumber role. I think that the floater valve is probably just hung up. I know how to fix those.
Unfortunately, the floater valve does not seem to be the problem. I jiggle around all the jiggle-able parts I can see, then try flushing it again. I leave for a few minutes and go downstairs, hoping I have fixed the problem. I haven't. The water continues to run.
I review my problem solving strategies. My next option is to turn off the water and call the plumber. I find the little valve behind the toilet (after saying some very unmotherlike words about my boys' housecleaning abilities!) and turn it off. I put a sign on the toilet DO NOT USE! and go to bed.
This morning, I got up and called the plumber. Because I am such a valued customer (plumber's code for someone is always breaking something, or putting something somewhere that it should not go), I have a special valued customer account. April (yes, I really am on a first name basis with the plumber's dispatcher) tells me someone can come out between 12 and 2). I wade into the boys' bathroom and spend an hour scrubbing. (They usually clean their own bathroom, then I do my best to ignore it, but when someone, even the plumber, is coming over, a little elbow grease is usually in order). I discover that the drain in the sink also needs some work, and call April back. She says that will be no problem. Somewhere during that hour I take a brief intermission because Kadeem insists he needs a shower. I resist the urge to say something unpleasant and unmotherlike about the boys' bathroom cleaning skills.
At about 11:50, the phone rings. April wants me to know that the plumber is on the way. Great. In the meantime, Isaiah comes out of his bedroom, goes into the bathroom, and slams the door. I tap (Ok, maybe I banged a little) on the bathroom door and tell him he needs to get out of the bathroom because
A) the toilet doesn't work and B) the plumber is on his way up to the door. I tell him he should use my bathroom instead. He comes out of the bathroom and goes back into his bedroom, shutting the door with a lot more force than necessary, and saying, "I'm not an idiot," in a less than pleasant voice.
The plumber arrives at the door. "Hi, I'm Paul," he says. "You're having a problem with your hot water heater?"
"My hot water heater?"
Paul smiles and nods.
"No, I'm not having a problem with my hot water heater. I'm having a problem with my toilet and with the sink not draining."
"You're sure you're not having a problem with your hot water heater?"says Paul.
"No, my hot water heater is fine." I'm not too concerned by what seems like a mixup, because I have worked with this company for several years, and they have always done a great job. I take him into the boys' bathroom to show him the toilet and sink.
"We usually have special drain guys," says Paul, "but I'll take a look at it."I comment that April had said that the drain would not be a problem. Paul looks at me like he's not sure I'm telling the truth, runs the water in the sink (I think to check if there really is hot water), looks at the drain, and then gets on the phone to call April.
"There's not a problem with the hot water heater," he says. "She has a problem with her toilet." Paul evidently has the phone on speaker because I can hear every word April says. "There's no problem with the hot water heater?" she says.
"No," says Paul. She says that no one is available this afternoon to do the drain, but that they can send someone tomorrow. Inwardly, I groan at one more day of my rapidly disappearing spring break being taken up waiting for a plumber, but I really need the work to be done, so I agree.
Paul rolls up his sleeves and starts to work. I stand in the doorway, waiting for his assessment of the toilet situation. "So how old are your boys?" he says conversationally.
"Sixteen and eighteen," I reply. "Do you have kids?" He does, an eight-year-old boy and a baby.
"Where does your eight-year-old go to school?" I ask.
"In the mountains. He lives up in the mountains with his mom."
This seems like it could be heading toward one of those foot-in-mouth conversations, so I change the subject. "How long have you worked for **** Plumbing Company?"
I have moved away from the bathroom and can't quite hear his answer. I move back to the door.
"I've worked for them for a year," he says, "but it's not **** Plumbing Company. I work for **** (another plumbing company)."
I am a little confused. I wonder if **** Plumbing Company, the one I use, is subcontracting work to this other company.
I must look confused, because Paul points to his shirt. "I work for *** Plumbing Company."
"But that's not the company that's supposed to be coming," I say, hoping for some clarification.
"Isn't this 2557 G Street?" says Paul.
"No," I say, "This is 2577."
"Well that explains the water heater issues," says Paul. "I'm supposed to be repairing a water heater at 2557 G Street." He picks up his materials and I escort him to the door, pointing him two doors down, to where my neighbor is evidently waiting to have her hot water heater repaired.
My plumber shows up ten minutes later, and charges me about $300 to fix the sink and toilet. He laughs when I tell him about my new friend, Paul.
I write the plumber a check and he leaves. I go to let the dogs in and discover that Isaiah has climbed out his bedroom window and is out in the backyard. The basketball hoop has somehow made its way up onto the wooden deck. A large board on the deck is now broken in half, leaving a hole in the middle of the deck.
"How did that happen?" I ask.
"Basketball hoop," says Isaiah. I sigh wondering where the money will come from to fix that.
"And your stupid dog bit a hole in my basketball," Isaiah continues.
"Did you leave it where he could get it?" I say.
"It's a basketball. It's supposed to be by the hoop," says Isaiah.
I resist the urge to respond.
And this, my friends, is a probably more accurate slice of our life today…