We have a can-do friend who has single-handedly kept our house from falling down around our ears all these years. I’ll call him Pete the Magnificent (not his real name).
I emailed Pete the Magnificent last week to say that “Help! the faucet on the laundry tub is leaking!” He emailed back that, unfortunately, he’d slipped on a patch of ice a few weeks ago and broke his leg, not just one bone but both tibia and fibula, and so he was out of the picture for the next few months.
But Pete also said fixing the faucet was something I could do myself, and emailed me step-by-step directions, Step 1 being Shut off the water supply to the house; the valve’s on the west wall of the basement.
I’ve watched Pete the M do this at least a dozen times when he comes to replace cartridges, so I knew exactly where to go and what to do.
And it worked, except…I couldn’t quite turn the water off all the way. A thin trickle kept draining from the faucet on the laundry tub. Not a problem, I thought. It probably takes a while to drain the pipes of an entire house.
But then 20 minutes went by and it was still trickling, so I figured the problem was in the operator and her keyboard-atrophied wrists. I tried to close the valve just a bit tighter. The water still trickled. I had a phone consult with P the M, who allayed my fears of breaking the valve, and then I tried to close the valve just a bit more tightly.
And the water kept on trickling.
And then I decided to turn the water back on and call our neighbor’s handyman. Perhaps to punish me for even considering letting someone besides Pete the M work on its pipes, the valve turned and turned and… uh oh. Is the stem supposed to be damp like this?
And then water started spurting from the valve.
So I gave up and called a plumber, and did not update Pete the M or my husband until things were fixed and I could calmly report that now we have a new shut-off lever instead of a round and knobby one that, while probably not original to the home, might not have seen the light of day since Dwight Eisenhower took the oath of office for his first term. And the nice plumber fixed the leaky faucet in the bargain.
Well, “bargain” might not be quite the right word.
I have decided that I did not break the shut-off valve. The valve broke when I was using it, true, but that’s different. It was probably just the valve’s time.
That’s my story, anyway, and I’m sticking to it.
© 2010 Anne Bingham and Making It Up as I Go