Happy Birthday, Christmas & Spring is Here


Well Tuesday was Jess’s birthday. I’ll spare her from identifying how old. But I had some fantastic plans on this day. It was going to be a wake up early for a workout, get breakfast as a surprise, come home and help Emerson get ready for school, work, leave early and go out to eat as a family and then off to grab a special dessert. Meddlesome Moth last year had the best dessert on Jess’s birthday and now we’re both craving it. So here’s how the last few days really went…

Wake up. No workout. Off to work like a normal workday until about 4:00 PM as I’m on my way home a little early for the festivities. Jess calls and the PVC pipe has removed itself from its newly cemented home. I never figured it’d hold long, but I had high hopes for not having to mess with it on her birthday at the very least. Spring has come early (see previous post).  Jess hung up and flipped the water off. It was going to be another Home Depot run.

Being a man of many talents, I must admit I don’t have the foggiest clue what I’m looking at when it comes to plumbing. Luckily a helpful guy gave me a quick lesson in cutting copper pipe, which sounded something akin to Smokey Robinson melodically chanting, “Get a groove and trace it, trace it, trace it. Retighten, find your grove and trace it, trace it trace it.” Until finally the pipe was two and I was on my way.

I scurry home and fit the pipe with the Shark Bite cap and replace the original pipe with this shiny new one. I sink it in about 2″ through the rubber washer and the top nut of the 4″ coupling. Assuming this fix is all I needed to do, I bury the pipe back, insulate it with a foam noodle thing, and I’m done. We flip the water cutoff back to “on” and that’s it. Time to celebrate Jess’s birthday.

We open her present. And that’s fun and we’re adults and we can do what we want. So we decide that carrying Christmas presents to Louisiana would suck. Let’s open all of those too. We charge off to slumber with all these new toys swimming through our heads. Not a care in the world.

Next morning.

Shower. Get out of the shower and check on the pipe situation.

At this point, I just suppose we have a wicked neighborhood boy named Pete who has utilized his pet water dragon to terrorize us, like some twisted children’s tale. As the hydro-spraying amphibian was doing his best soaker hose impersonation by making our backyard into a swamp-dwelling, I frantically threw on my Treasure Island robe and whisked out the door to the side of the house. There, I ripped the cover off the water meter which was now halfway submerged in the venom of the dragon and bravely risked my left hand’s life as I plunged my phalanges into the murky, freezing mess to find the valve. Disaster stopped with rescue and recovery to commence.

Unfortunately, this tragedy now put me late in getting to work where I was to have several early morning meetings, one with the entire bank Board of Directors, and left my two damsels in distress at our castle sans running water.

There was a finite window of time between finishing the Board meeting and my next appointment at work, so I sped home to assess the damage further. Back on with the coveralls, gloves, pre-muddied shoes, and mud-encrusted flashlight. Back through the broken lattice, back to army-crawling under the back porch. Back to digging.

Now I figured I needed to remove the coupling, as the washer was clearly shot (also not realizing that it’s a compression coupling and without proper tightening of the top nut, I may was well just have laid it horizontally across it with some duct tape.

This time, I went to the plumbing supply store down the street. Why I didn’t do this the first time, I’m not sure. There, I surveyed the bins of piping. Galvanized, copper, PVC and others. I found the matching pipe coupling and went back home to replace the top nut and the washer. Guy at the counter says to remove the old top nut and replace it with this new one.

At this point, trying to get the top nut off, I’ve bloodied my knuckles, gone through three pairs of various types of gloves, thrown pounds of mud across the earth, and screamed curse words at the Romans who invented running water in the first place. Unscrewing a muddy pipe covering ain’t easy.

Once replaced, I’ve got about an hour and half to my next meeting. I call to Jess to turn the water back on. She can’t do it. I’m not going to say that her turning the valve the wrong way was the problem, because that seems to be a blessing in disguise in retrospect.

I roll my eyes that she’s not strong enough to turn on the valve, which I’d assumed to be an easy task with all the times I’ve turned it on and off over the past several days, but I emerge from my mud den and walk around. Jess says, “oh, it goes that way?” as I hear the familiar rush of water pressure building.

Then, suddenly. Boom! the pipe shoots out of it’s home. Again. Water is spraying everywhere. Again. And Dad Bear is now high pissed to the point of laughing. I now know what the Joker feels like. But I’m also thankful that I wasn’t under the decking as this event occurred as well.

Back to the plumbing supply store. Same guy, Gary, gives me a different coupling and asks why I didn’t use this one the first time because it’s “so much easier”. I again roll my eyes as I mentally accost this man for not telling me that the first time I was there.

So back to the house. Back under the deck, wrench in hand, anger clearly fueling my Mr. Fix It day. I quite literally rip the old coupling off the existing pipe after digging another 3″ or so down into the muck. Slamming the new Shark Bit coupling down onto this protruding pipe, the third attempt as I’m basically subterranean at this point. I insert the other pipe into the fitting hoping we’re not going to experience another water rocket launch today. I have about 15 minutes before I need to leave for work. The question is now whether I’m returning to work a muddy mess or a freshly showered mess, knuckles still bleeding.

This time feels like the one. I turn the value (up, not down Jess) and hear that familiar rushing sound one more time. No water rockets. No water dragons. No swamp-filing.

It worked!

Lee’s amateur plumbing services is now in business. For appoints, don’t call. Ever.

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