Holidays and Plumbing


I’m beginning to think that no holiday is complete without a plumbing crisis of some kind.

It was a couple years ago on the night before Christmas Eve that the ceiling collapsed in my parents’ basement. Clumps of wet drywall and a steady drip indicated that something in the piping was to blame, and we had a time of it locating a plumber at that particular time on that particular date. Judging from the size of the check that went into his pocket, I told myself as a soon-to-be homeowner that I wouldd keep a list of emergency repair types so I’d at least know I was getting a quality patch job for the price.

Fast forward to last night, when I decided that it was finally time to attend to a couple persistent dark spots on one of the bathroom floors. I was happily scrubbing away when I noticed that things were not quite as firm as I would want them to be — in fact, one could say positively spongy.

Rotting floorboards! And lo and behold, from underneath, faint water spots through the paint on the ceiling. Memories of that Christmas flooded through my mind, and I knew with a sinking feeling that I’d been completely remiss in my follow-through: there was no list. In an instant I was off to the races through the yellow pages, flipping through listing after listing, looking for those magic words. “Emergency service!” “24 hour response!” But who to choose?

It’s maddening, trying to make a zero-information guess at service quality at 8 p.m., the night before a federal holiday. A few minutes and I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t make a guess at all. An example of the power of first impressions: it’s apparently impossible for a plumber to have a print ad that doesn’t scream, “Stay away from me! My work is like garbage!” Evidence of the impossibility of working with a yellow canvas.

A little later and I calmed down. A faint voice in my head told me that I’d noticed those water spots before — they weren’t new. The house wasn’t going to fall down overnight, and what I had was a far cry from a collapsed ceiling. I’m just going to call that bathroom off limits for the weekend and attend to it on Monday.

My brain is telling me not to worry, and that my pocketbook will be a lot happier during normal business hours. Paranoia is so easy, though.

At the very least, it’s time to make a list.

  • So how's that list coming along?

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