Gill has many talents. I did not appreciate that among these is that of plumbing consultant. During her summer holiday here, she saw fit to impress me with her abilities in this area.
I had regaled her, prior to her arrival, of the problem I was having with water in my basement. It happened randomly and I was prepared to call a plumber but didn’t know if that was the correct way to proceed. I couldn’t tell if the water was coming from the foundation, from around the windows, or perhaps from the hose attachment that led into the basement.So did I need a plumber, window or a foundation expert?
I explained to Gill: “This happened once a couple of years ago when Crazy D was living here and he hosed down his bike (after a muddy ride) in the back yard. The water was streaming through around the window to sit in a pool on the basement floor.”
“What, Ma? It happened two years ago and you didn’t investigate? You’ve probably had mold growing all over the basement. Oh, Crazy D. He comes, he goes, leaving chaos in his wake.”
“Well, it’s never happened again until now so I didn’t think it was a thing…and Crazy D didn’t think so either.”
“Tell me you’re not relying on Crazy D to diagnose household maintenance issues. Even I know that water in the basement is a bad thing!”
She isn’t exactly an expert either. I suspect her current advice stems from the ‘wealth of knowledge’ she picked up while working one summer on a t.v. reality show called “The Unsellables” where frustrated home sellers brought in a team to spruce up some real dumps of houses. “Says you…of t.v. reality show fame.”
“Not just that, Ma. You forget I’ve lived in a fine selection of rat trap apartments with everything from mold, rats and wasps to heating systems from The Middle Ages to sketchy plumbing. As that insurance ad goes, ‘I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two’.”
Faced with a choice between Crazy D’s head-in-the-sand, ‘crisis avoidance’ technique and Gill’s t.v. DIY advice, I took neither. I ran across the street to consult my neighbor the professor and part-time construction guy. That’s correct…professor/sometime hardhat guy.
He trotted over, small daughter and partner in the newly created Perky Fixers team in tow. I was impressed that she had her own plastic tool kit that featured some tools that I didn’t recognize. She could name them all and gave me a quick rundown as to what they were for. I felt my basement was in good hands — certainly better than those of MY children.
The problem appeared to be a crack in the pipe leading to the garden hose. It was, the neighbor said, an easy fix but he didn’t have the proper tool. He said this after looking carefully through his daughter’s tool kit. “I’m sorry, but I guess you’ll have to call a plumber after all.” he opined.
“No problem. At least I know what I’m dealing with and haven’t wasted money on a foundation expert.”
It was fixed and things in my water world were fine until Gill arrived in country. She took a shower one morning and yelled,”Ma! Stop running the water or flushing toilet or whatever you’re doing to make the shower go cold!”
I ignored this incident hoping it wouldn’t happen again.(This is often my approach to things household…ignore it long enough and it will either go way on its own or I’ll cease to care.)
But Gill refused to let me. We had incidents of the toilet randomly running — the toilet I had recently had ‘fixed’ by a real plumber so this wouldn’t happen.
“I’ll do some diagnostic work on the Internet,” Gill announced.
“Lord save us. No, let me call the neighbor. He knows about this stuff.”
“No, I’m right here and I’d like to help.” With that, she set about to learn all about toilets in five minutes on the Internet. Well, I thought, if people can learn how to build bombs online, who’s to say DIY plumbing isn’t the next big thing? I heard her muttering away for several minutes. Then she went to the bathroom and called me in. The lid was sitting on the floor and she had her hand inside the tank, fiddling. “I think, according to the Internet, that this doohinkus is what’s causing the problem. If we can get this to stay up, it will be fine.”
“Yup, you’ve nailed it,” I said sarcastically. “That’s exactly the thingamajig the guy ‘fixed’. Brilliant deduction, Sherlock!”
“Fine,” she piped up huffily. “That’s the thanks I get for trying to help.”
“I appreciate the effort, but I think I’m going to call an actual plumber, not a PhD with delusions of plumbing grandeur. But this time, I’m calling the somewhat pricey but Knows What He’s Doing plumber who fixed the basement problem rather than the You Get What You Pay For guy who tried twice and failed with this toilet.”
Gill retired to her computer to find other things to become an expert in in five minutes or less.