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Friday, December 26, 2008

Ode to Xmas ‘08

This December ‘08 could be a milestone for me. After 22 years providing plumbing and electric services for those in and around the Fall River Valley, I may have well disappointed more people in the past four days than the previous 10 to 20 years. But I comfort myself by knowing that I will never reach the level of disappointment soon to be realized by our next president.

You see, I have come down with what I originally thought was garden variety, common cold, but has turned into a low grade infection of my sinuses, ears and respiratory system. And unlike a similar infection, which hit me last year, that blossomed into a bleeding ulcer, that nearly put me in the ground instead of a flooded basement, I have every intention of heading this one off at the pass, with rest and care.

Unfortunately, this particular virus had to pick the coldest day in over 15 years to raise its ugly head. Ergo, the disappointed masses.

My messages last Thursday were coming in so fast, I couldn’t put down the phone to leave the shop, that the next call was coming in. And it was the same complaint from everyone….I have no water! Well, duh. It’s 10 below and you didn’t prepare. Your pipes are frozen. Apply heat and call me later.
And the nasty thing about frozen pipes. Once you thaw them, some leak. But I digress.

So on Thursday and Friday, I did what I could to get water back on. Heat lamps, heaters and in some cases just shutting the pump house door and leaving the cute little heater on that didn’t have a chance against the direct forces of Mother Nature. But by Saturday morning, all the signs were there, stuffy nose, scratchy throat and hacking cough. Yep, Christmas shopping was gonna be a hoot.

I had left the phone turned off in the house, the night before, and when I checked the message machine before I left, there were 46 messages, none of which I could resolve with a return call. It’s cold people, suck it up. But the masses would not be discouraged by a full message machine, nor a disconnected ringer in the house. They continued to call well after Saturday afternoon, while I was confined to bed with strict instructions from wifey to stay there until healed. But she underestimated the persistence of people without water.

The calls probably continued well after we turned off the message machine on Saturday afternoon. Messages that I may well never be able to return. And if I do, they will be moot conversations followed by dozens of apologies. And most will be perfunctory mea culpas for my inability to be in twelve places at one time. I will however, make no excuses for those that only call me when they can’t get their neighbor, cousin, contractor son or pastor to do it for free.

On the other hand, I reserve my most sincere regrets to those who have depended upon me for all their services, for many years. I refer to those that usually just pick up the phone and say, “get it done, send me the bill“. Meanwhile, wifey fields the random calls that sneak in while she is talking to her family or retrieving her own messages. She tells them that I am sick in bed and they response, oh, but I have no water. What part of “sick in bed” do they not understand?

But go through the messages I will. Mostly to reconnect with clients who have not been just an income stream, but those that have become friends, confidants and quasi relatives. My hardest job will be to seek out my LOL’s (little old ladies) and make any amends if they are due. In ill health, I may have let them down, a flaw that I may spend many months living down.

However, if there is to be a silver lining, it will be that I should come out of this bout much sooner than if I had made attempts to make other’s lives a little better during extreme circumstances. Circumstances that, if there is a God, should prepare these victims to face similar weather in the future, notwithstanding Global Warming.

And if there is any comfort for those that are holding contempt for my selfish efforts to get well, my own pump house froze a pipe and broke, flooding collector books, bulk foods and about a thousand pieces of cloth wifey was saving for quilts. That little event will definitely cost me, if not a continual reminder of lost treasures, but a lingering reminder that I usually reserve for college elites…..hey dummy, water freezes at 32 degrees.

Merry Christmas to all. The Dumbplumber

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