Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Altruistic Plumber - Part I

The doctor or nurse or emergency responder or other health-worker, or social-worker, or teacher etc are widely perceived to have chosen their profession because they want to do good to the world.

Sorry to disillusion you.

We choose it, we do it, because, we think, we, maybe, will be good at it. And if, by chance, we are, we earn good money sometimes.

And that applies to the shop-assisasnt, the road-sweeper, the bank-manager and ...

... the Altruistic Plumber.

It's freezing outside. Its not just freezing, it's enough to freeze the proverbial balls off a brass monkey. And it's enough to freeze all the water-pipes in your house and as the cold spell warms up just a little bit, you find water dripping through the upstairs ceiling, through the bathroom floor and down the stairs into the living room.

It's 10 pm in the evening on a Sunday.

What do you do ? Ring the Council HelpLine ? You get a recorded message ¨Our offices are now closed. Our opening hours are 8 am to 5:30 pm Monday to Friday. Please ring back".

Put a bucket under the drip, which is dripping ever faster (as you just turned the central heating on). Take a paracetamol.

You have initiative - you grab the Yellow Pages and look up "Plumbers". You find a boxed entry proclaiming "24 Hour Emergency Plumbing". The number is in a town 20 miles away. There are apparently none nearer.

Oh shit! The bucket is half full! The drips are getting faster! Turn the water off ... no, no before that fill the bath! The tap dribbles.

You ring the number in the Yellow Pages. It rings for what seems ages. Eventually a sleepy voice responds ...

"That'll be £x an hour plus materials and expenses".

You don't really register how much the x is. "Ok, ok ... anything".

And, having some experience of this, you don't expect him for an hour and a half ... after all it's a cold night, he has to get out of bed, get dressed, have a cup of tea ...

Nearly 12:30 am now. The quantity of water in the bath will get you through, the bucket is filling ever more rapidly ... ok, turn the water off. Oh shit - where is the mains tap?

Toot, Toot ... he arrives. "What's the problem luv/guv?"

"Burst water pipe in the attic".

He brings in his ladder, his flashlight, his toolbox - he muddy's your carpet - he climbs into the attic and fixes the problem. But it takes two hours.


You offer him a cup of tea, a glass of whisky ...

"So how much do I owe you?"

"That'll be £100 an hour plus materials and expenses and VAT. But as a favour, well make it a square £300".

"Can I claim it back from the Council ?"

¨You've got to be joking!"

"What about my house insurance?¨

"Depends on your policy".

So I pay him ... and sit down to read the House Insurance. It does not include damage from burst pipes


Lea White said...

Ha-ha-ha. I thought it was so entertaining and funny the way you wrote it.

Of course your situation is definitely not funny and pretty frustrating.

This must be where you really miss Africa right?

Hang in there!!! (Just not from any water pipes in the ceiling :-) )

Angus said...

I am in Africa.

It's a reaction to the GP out-of-hours treatment govt. spin here.