The Plumber: A Snowpocalypse 2021 Story

Winter 2021 was a bad one in Austin, TX. One for the history books. Here in our tiny bubble of small consequences, we didn’t suffer as much as many people. But this is a blog about semi-humorous/semi-autobiographical anecdotes. So this is what you get…

I’d been discussing my son’s broad career interests with some friends and we agreed that his current fascination with being a plumber should be encouraged. Every family should have a plumber, a mechanic, and an accountant, we agreed. Some families…a lawyer.

A little while later, my friend sent me a text:

The only problem – human poop.

I do love a no-context text like that. But, luckily, I knew what she was talking about.

So, the next time I was around a plumber, I decided, I would watch closely. Fate was kind enough to not leave me waiting too long at all.

A few days later, a pipe froze in our garage. There was flooding. But, again, we escaped the worst of it as the water flooded into the garage and not into our home.

When the plumber arrived, he had to turn off the water at the mains, which was located in a hole in the ground in our front yard. As he opened the heavy iron cover, he looked inside and, sounding a tiny bit like Indiana Jones, he muttered, “Roaches. Why does it always have to be roaches?”

I left him to it.

Two minutes later he came around the corner shaking his hand, hard.

“One of them touched me!” he said. He wasn’t wearing gloves and we had no water for him to wash his hands, so I guess he was marked for life. I hoped he wasn’t a shaker of hands. He didn’t look the type.

He looked at our leaky pipe. “You’ll have water in an hour, probably less,” he said with confidence. We were reassured. Despite everything that had happened 2020-2021, we still believed people when they told us stuff.

We’re idiots.

At roughly the hour mark, our plumber was pulling himself up into our garage’s loft area. Halfway in, he muttered, “It smells like rat pee in here.” My wife assured him our recent pest-control guy had told us it was all very old.

“Nope,” he sighed, and disappeared completely into the hole.

He climbed up there multiple times. Fell out once. Stepped on a rat trap once. Finally, he capped the pipe and dropped back into the garage.

“I hope this is the hardest job you have to do today,” I said.

“If it’s not, I’m going to retire,” he mumbled. He looked approximately 15 years old.

I texted my friend. Human poop is not the worst thing a plumber has to put up with, I said.

By this point, our hero was done. Water was flowing only where it was supposed to. He was duct-taping up the holes in the dry wall.

“That should keep out the rats,” I said, just for something to say.

He stopped and turned around.

“No, not rats. Did you ever see the show ‘One Hundred Ways to Die?’”

I had not.

“I saw on there – someone trapped in a hole with some rats. The rats ate through him to get out of the hole. They will eat through anything…”

A short time later, he was gone. Our hero driving out into the snowpocalypse, spreading plumbing and nightmarish animal images wherever he went.

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