Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Outgoing Plumber

Jerry came by yesterday.

He held an oversized work belt around his Rio World buffet-sized waist that sort-of shifted with each labored step. A kind yet saddened smile of someone working for the man versus getting a true paycheck of a professional plumber. He spoke softly while resting the clipboard on top of the stretched Roto-Rooter uniform of jotted down actions he would take upon our clogged water lines. His handshake was firm as the hand dwarfed my own feeling calloused from years of hauling the various seemingly heavy equipment up and down the steps of homeowners who had no choice but to bend over the knee of a stuck piece of PVC tubing and leave a blank check.

Houses do not run well without flowing water unless your the Ingalls family.

While Jerry wrote down a number that I was comfortable with on the order form filled out in triplicates, I solemnly signed away $400 that was necessary to get the boy back into his bedroom without fear of slogging though backed up sewage on the way upstairs. The corporate plumber dig thru the muck that could have left by the previous owner of the home who built the place back in the 70s but allowed time and divorce to rot away some features that our family have brought back. Then again, my daughter's amusement with watching a half roll of squeezable Charmin swirl down the porcelain whirlpool with each flush was a more likely suspect.

When asked about future clogs after his seemingly professional job (and expensive 1.5 hours of work), Jerry just shrugged and tried to come up with a sell up to various company sold product descriptions and "add-on" services but instead stuck with pointing his workmen fingers at the glossy brochure laced with "yeps" and head nods. One thing about living with a hearing disability has forced me to do over the years (and its a BIG thing while playing live poker) is to pay close attention to non-verbal clues. Granted my bionic ears allow to hear more words and cute "Go Mi-Kings!" from my little cheerleader, I still find myself pouring over hand and eye, shoulders, stance, feet, and face movements as if I was a human lie detector.

From my brief moments speaking with Jerry, I could tell he wasn't comfortable trying to up-sell me on additional products that he was not full knowledgable about yet could perform if I opted to allow the stammering description. Granted, I'm sure he an honest guy as he gave no tells of being a corporate huckster looking to make a bonus for selling twenty gallons of Super Industrial Drain-B-Gone, just very careful about trying to cross-over into salesmen territory as I peppered the first questions at him I'd had about my piping since getting the snip.


His out was "someone will probably call you about getting a camera down there to see if there's a bigger problem beyond the 25 feet I cleared". The cue was to let Jerry off the hook as me and the wife flushed the toilets at the same time while running bathtub water and nary a drop hit the laundry room floor. Job complete, let the man go enjoy the evening lineup on CMT and wait for the dreaded sales call.

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