I never found profanity tempting until I attempted plumbing. Plumbing is unforgiving, stubborn, and awkward. There is nothing worse than working on something fragile and difficult in close quarters. No wonder plumbers don’t give a second thought to the height of their pants.
Our new home had a nice location, but everything else was either cheap plywood, smelled of smoke, or broken. I exaggerate, but point made nonetheless. While most of the appliances were either satisfactory or in good shape, the sellers passed along a little cash to purchase a new dishwasher. During our first weekend in the home we left our mounds of boxes to seek out the beloved appliance of dish washing husbands.
Carting off a mid-range dishwasher from the store, we hauled it into the house and let it become acquainted with the new environment—much like a goldfish adjusting to new water. After a week of staring at the hefty box and consulting an adequate number of plumbing professionals and handymen, I decided that the dishwasher was ready for a change of location.
Things never went well, according to plan, or smoothly. Pick your cliché for ease and simplicity, and I guarantee it did not apply. I needed help disconnecting the old dishwasher, had to buy an adequate wrench, didn’t have the right kind of hose, lacked a long enough electrical cord, and then broke all kinds of pipes under the sink.
I don’t really know how much stuff broke, only that open water lines filled up our buckets pretty fast. The antiquated faucet sent spindling metal roots below the sink, weaving and curling around so that I was never quite sure where each line began or ended.
For a solid week I returned home from the office, put on my work clothes, and laid under the sink to bang, clang, and fight off profanity. Each line seemed to have a leak, and every nut on a pipe was in an impossible location for my petite wrench. Even after I found the leak, it became clear that the pipe could not be replaced: we needed a new faucet. That meant every single connection had to be undone.
I can’t remember being so angry at an inanimate object before. I wanted to punch something or pull out an aluminum bat and beat up an old piece of machinery. Using my bare hands to tear the faucet out in one growling roar seemed plausible. I was a lost cause. Even with half of the sinks lines removed, a stubborn bunch held out at the top, daring me to wedge my wrench into their stronghold. Persisting with my personal war, I substituted deep “Ugh’s” and pointed “Agh’s” for the words scrolling through my mind.
And then my wife asked, “Can I have a try at it?” I wasn’t going to stand in her way. Prowling around the kitchen like a wild beast, I listened to her efficient cranks with the wrench. Metal clanked down inside the cabinet and within twenty minutes she popped out with a smile. “I’m all done. That was kind of fun.”
With her book and cup of tea she settled on the couch, the picture of domestic tranquility. I stared at my handily slain adversary in disbelief. For whatever reason I told myself this was a private battle, a bout of perseverance I had to win at any cost, even if I lost myself in anger, stewing in the worst thoughts I could dredge from my spirit. We all need help. If only we asked for it.