Getting screwed: The Live Blog

9:00am: Two days ago, my wife told me both of our uptairs toilets had problems. By problems, she meant they were flushing, but doing so all over the damned floor. I accused her of being unlucky and told her to buy some Drano. No Home Depot product worked. A day later, she called the plumbers. I started to get cranky.

9:20am: The plumber arrived. I am already disappointed because the guy is not fat and I doubt there will be any butt crack joke availability. In fact, he’s thin, fairly good looking, has a stylish haircut and makes a point of covering his shoes before he walks on my floors. He smells like chewing gum and cigarettes. I fear I might be headed toward some sort of alternative lifestyle fantasy fodder, so I’ll leave it at that.

9:28am: I take the guy on a tour of the upstairs. The wife has cleaned up, I guess just in case we want to impress the plumber. I tell the guy the toilets won’t flush. I don’t think he’s listening.

9:32am: Here are a few of the quotes from the plumber over the past few minutes.

  • “You really want to stay away from toilets with rounded fronts.”
  • “You really want to stay away from Drano. There’s acid in that. Not a lot. I mean they can sell it at Home Depot. But there’s acid in there and that can cause you problems.”
  • “You really want to go for a toilet with a square front. They are a bit enlongated and, if you know what I mean, a little more man-friendly.”
  • Yeah, I don’t know if he was hitting on me or not.

    9:34am: Wow, why the hell didn’t I see this coming? You call a plumber to fix your toilet and he tries to sell you a new toilet? Really? This happens? Now, I’m no fan of my cheap toilets. I’d even buy some new ones to replace these if I thought it was going to save us any time and plumber fees. So, this guy thinks I’m buying what he’s selling. And I’m probably going to make the purchase until Mr. Man-Friendly tells me the new johns are going to run me more than $600. Apiece.

    9:35am: Using smelling salts and a few kicks in the ribs, Mr. Man-Friendly gets me up off the hardwoods. I try to find a way to play off my lack of consciousness. “And, so how much just to fix the ones I have?” I ask. And then I get it. They try to sell you on the NASA Space Shuttle toilets and quote you the price. So, when you get the actual quote for the repairs, you are actually happy about what would normally be sticker shock. In fact, by now, I am downright excited to spending $400 for what is certainly a couple minutes of witchcraft and probably some generic Drano. And somewhere along the way, I buy the Ben Franklin service plan, titled cleverly enough, “The Ben Society.” A stich in time and all.

    9:41am: I leave the guy to “snake” my toliets. The “snake” looks more like a military-grade weapon. It sounds like it, too. What’s happening upstairs sounds like the plumber destroying everything on the second level of my house. I hear running water and a lot of banging. Before this is over, I feel certain I will need a new toilet after all.

    9:57am: Man-Friendly is really putting on a show. He’s made more noise than any service person in the history of our house. I’ve heard the two upstairs toilets flush three or four times apiece. Somehow, I feel certain, the guy is going to come down and tell me, despite his best efforts, he’s going to have to sell me some $600 toilets.

    10:00am: I think this guy actually hates my family. As he comes downstairs, he quietly says, “They are unclogged.” The sound in Man-Friendly’s voice sounds like a guy who just watched five of his buddies die in battle. He has a 1,000-yard stare and quietly says as he goes to his truck, “No more baby wipes.”

    10:02am: I actually feel bad for Man-Friendly. “I’ve never pulled so many out,” he says. I’m sort of glad my kid isn’t here, because the guy will realize the boy is now three years old and ask why there are still baby wipes around. I protest briefly, “They are called flushable wipes.” Man-Friendly responds, “They are not.”

    10:09am: The guy seems to have come back to reality. “I think they call them flushable just so they can sell more of them. They don’t disintegrate. Anything they can get hung up on, they will.” I am actually disturbed by the concept of what the wipes could possibly get hung up on. I find myself actually happy writing a check for $400.

    10:20am: Mr. Man-Friendly is gone and everything seems to be in working order. I’m pretty sure that means we’re going to have a major plumbing disaster in about six hours.

    Thank goodness I joined the Ben Society.