By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate
Life is a vicious cycle because there is always a laundry list of things to do. This is especially true if you have to do the laundry, in which case there are three cycles: wash, rinse and spin.
But you can’t do the laundry, as my wife, Sue, and I found out recently, if your washing machine is on the fritz. Unfortunately, we don’t know anybody named Fritz, so we called a plumber named Harry.
Harry, who owns Brookhaven Plumbing and Heating on Long Island, N.Y., came over because our laundry room was beginning to flood, though not enough to open an indoor swimming pool.
The problem, we thought, was coming from the washer, a decrepit machine that had many clothes calls in its 15 years (that’s about 100 in appliance years) but now seemed to be a victim of death by drowning.
Then we discovered a leak coming from the pipe under the slop sink, into which the washer regurgitated water, suds and lint, which is not immaterial. In fact, I have a navel reserve of lint, but that’s another story.
The real story, according to Harry, was that the elbow was leaking.
“Will I have to see a rheumatologist?” I asked.
“Not your elbow,” Harry answered. “The sink’s elbow. You need a plumbing doctor. That would be me.”
“Thanks for making a house call, doc,” I said.
“That’s my job,” said Harry, who noted that most insurance claims are the result of plumbing problems. “A washing machine hose will blow and cause a flood,” he said. “I’ve gotten calls from people who had four feet of water in their basement.”
“I’ll never have that problem because I don’t have a basement,” I said.
“The water would just go through the garage,” said Harry.
“Then my daughters would have to get all their stuff out of there,” I said.
Harry’s daughter has two daughters who are, of course, Harry’s granddaughters.
“They’re 5 and 2 years old,” Harry said. “And they’re always asking questions, like ‘Papa, why is the sky blue?’ ”
“Do they ask plumbing questions?” I asked.
“I haven’t gotten that yet,” Harry answered. “But they know I can fix anything. They’ll say to their mother, ‘Mommy, call Papa. He knows how to do it.’ ”
“My granddaughter is only 16 months old,” I said, “but I think she already knows that I can’t fix anything.”
Harry fixed the problem under the sink and attached a new hose from the washer to the slop sink, which he guessed was installed by the house’s previous owner, a handy guy who had his own workshop in the garage.
“He probably came in here to wash his hands before he went into the kitchen so his wife wouldn’t yell at him,” surmised Harry, whose wife does the laundry in their house. “We have one of those high-tech machines, like the Starship Enterprise, with all these fancy features. It’s just one more thing to go wrong. I employ the ‘kiss’ method: ‘keep it simple, stupid.’ When we get another washer, it’s going to be a simple one.”
The next day, our washer conked out. Sue went to a nearby appliance store and bought a new, high-tech model that plays a tune when the wash is done.
The day after it was installed, I called Harry to tell him that he did an excellent job on the sink but that we ended up needing a new washer after all.
“You jinxed me,” Harry said. “The day after I was at your house, our washer conked out, too. My wife got another high-tech model.”
“Don’t worry, Harry,” I said. “It all comes out in the wash.”
Copyright 2014 by Jerry Zezima