Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Plumber

So, we bought our Maytag w/d in NYC on Canal St. Avi promised us that installation would be a piece of cake and that our w/d costs included free installation on this end. Beware of "free" anything. We called the installation guys - not be confused with an "installator" or, a plumber, and a nice guy, Yuval, I think, came and took the machines apart (doors to narrow otherwise) and then brought the machines back in, put them back together and set them up. When we tried to run them, horrors, water spritzed up (he actually conjugated the word spritz in correct nif'al or something like that) and we were left with our machines in but not running. I called an "installator" that we had been recommended and he suggested that there might be a blockage or some other problem and that he was happy to come. This guy was happily a South African and we could speak English with him which was good as Hebrew in plumbing speak seemed a bit impossible. I called the landlord and told him that we'd be calling in a plumber and after first telling us that plumbing is our problem - actually, he said, "mah at hoshevet, zeh ma'lon?" or, "what do you think, this is a hotel?" meaning in terms of his assumption of responsibility which we've realized is virtually nil. Anyway, then he told us, no use my plumber please, who built the house and knows it well and as it turns out, is his first cousin. So, Shimshon turns up - a short, rotund man, who had to climb over the machines because he couldn't actually fit alongside them although I would allow that if one was pregnant, it would be hard to run laundry in our laundry room. Shimshon fiddles and declares, "eyn steemah," "no blockage." He also declared complete mystification as to why anyone would bring in a foreign machine - "these machines use too much lachatz/strong water pressure and a European machine would be just fine." Yes, they're fine but they take 2 hours to run a load of laundry. But that's not the point - just install my machine as my laundry is building. Shimshon leaves and says he'll come back and work on it in the morning. Dispair. Laundry piles building.
Friday. Shimshon marches in. I had called him in the morning after having consulted with Master Plumber and my mother's neighbor, Harry Levine. Harry tells me that there is probably a blockage and that I should tell Shimshon to bring an electronic snake. I tell Shimshon but from the silence on the other end, I can tell that plumbing is his business and that he's disinterested in what I have to say. I really want to have Harry come but we decide to let Shimshon save face and come back once more. Shimshon returns and as expected, cannot solve the problem. After a pleasant chat on his background - Kurdistan, our background - NYC and such, we wish each other a Shabbat Shalom and move on.
Sunday AM - I beg Harry Levine to come if he has time. Harry shows up. It is immediately apparant that he's the most entertaining plumber I've ever had the pleasure to have in my house. He comes in chatting about my neighbor across the hall - turns out he's done work for them and likes them and tells me to send his regards. We head upstairs discussing where he's from, Pittsburgh, and how long he's been here - about 25 years, I think, and how he got to plumbing - via an MBA that he long ago abandoned. He unleashes the electric snake and gets to work. Meanwhile, Gabe's school calls. He sustained an injury - a nasty thorn in his toe and can't walk home. Ira is dispatched to pick him up. Gabe arrives home with friend in tow and thorn in foot. He sits on the edge of the bathtub to soak his toe and listen to the Harry banter. I begin surgery on Gabe's toe without much success - this is a big thorn. Gabe is not convinced that I'm doing a good job. Harry wanders over to observe - the blockage has been found and dealt with (a 3" piece of rubber tubing that is my landlords problem, NOT MINE). Harry declares that we need nat'l light or at least a flashlight. He whips out a flashlight. I continue to probe but Harry states that he has much experience in such things (he's the father of 6) - I hand over the tweezer. Harry takes a few desultory swipes with the tweezer and concludes that a better tool is needed. He takes out his Leatherman pliers - Gabe blanches - from his belt holster - and continues to work at the thorn, which is visible but still stuck. Ultimately, the thorn is pulled out with the tweezer and Gabe breathes a sigh of relief (it hurt, that's for sure) and goes back to soaking the toe - which healed quite nicely, thankfully.
I'd like to remind all of you readers that we're talking about a plumber that I allowed to perform minor surgery on my kid's toe. I did it with pleasure and enjoyment. I hadn't laughed so much hin days.
According to Jess and Daniel, visits from Harry are always big moments, usually accompanied by various epiphanies - in the case of Jess, that she should date divorced men with kids and in the case of Daniel that he shouldn't worry about divorce and financial matters. Harry himself is divorced but that's another story.
Only in Israel.

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