Take This Job and…Just Take It!

3 07 2011

Yesterday I completed a job which I have been dreading for 44 years. Not a terribly bad job, just something I did once and never wanted to do again.

The days before satellite

I mentioned in an earlier post (The Christmas Tree-Part Two) that daddy was a truck driver who traveled 48 states with an occasional trip over the border into Canada or Mexico. As a result, he wasn’t around home all that much making me the man of the house. That’s what he would tell me when I was a little boy and he was about to leave home for another 2-3 months. He would say I was the man of the house while he was away and I needed to take care of my mother. As bad as it was not having daddy around, there was some good which came from that. I had to learn things early. I was doing plumbing repairs when I was just a kid. If the TV antennae needed adjusting or the gutters needed cleaning I would climb onto the roof and do the job. If we wanted something grilled, I was the griller. I’ve been grilling for 47 years-ever since I was 12. Oh, and don’t forget the Christmas tree.

I was 15 years old and the drain in the bathroom sink was so badly clogged it would take forever for the water to drain out. It was like watching ice melt. Mama tried everything- Drano, Mr. Plumber, Mrs. Plumber, the plunger, a new plunger, coat hangers; you name it. I’m telling you, once the hair begins to accumulate around the horizontal rod (that’s the do-hickey that makes the stopper go up and down.) there’s only one way to get it cleaned out-disassemble the thing and pull it out. Mama finally got fed up with it and said she was going to call a plumber. I just figured something had probably fallen down the drain and gotten stuck in that curvy pipe beneath the sink. I didn’t know the nomenclature at the time but having worked the following summer with a plumber, I learned that curvy pipe is called the “P” trap, or simply trap. I told mama I thought I could fix it so she should give me a shot before she pays a plumber to do the job.


I have three sisters and a brother. At the time, only two sisters were living at home. Still, that’s one guy-me-and three women. Women shed a lot of long hair, and it’s especially bad when they dry their hair over the sink. When I pulled the trap off the drain pipe I pulled a huge, gelatinous, stinky plug of hair and scum from the drain. I thought I was going to hurl. (Still not as bad as drinking Fleet. See The Colonoscopy.)


So, in the back of my mind, I have always, at least since that day, been aware of long hair’s drain-clogging potential. I also knew the day would come when I would be a homeowner and would face this situation again. The day we signed the papers to purchase this house, over 25 years ago, I thought back to that day in 1967, knowing that if we stayed in this house long enough, there would come a day when I would have to repeat that chore. And I’ve thought of it every time I’ve watched my wife stand over the sink blow-drying her hair.

Several weeks ago my wife and I noticed, about the same time, that the drain in the master bath was getting very slow. Memories of that day from 44 years in the past, returned.

Now, we could have called a plumber but I just have a hard time forking over $125 for someone to do a job, no matter how repulsive it might be, that I can easily do myself. I told my wife I would fix the problem.

We are usually quite busy so it has not been easy to find the time to get in the bathroom to clean the drain. Also, it seemed to be one of those things you never think of when you have the time to do it so for several weeks the job has been on my roundtuit list.

The Day of Reckoning

But yesterday, I had the time and I remembered. I got my tools together and did the job in about 20 minutes. Wasn’t all that bad after all, but it was just like I remembered it-another huge gelatinous plug of stinky hair and scum.

Okay husbands, here is the lesson to learn from this post. When you face a job like this…procrastinate. Yes, put it off for several weeks, long enough anyway for your wife to begin to reach the point where she is threatening to call in a professional. Then when you finally do the job, she is so pleased with the results that you get extra points (if you are a points collector, that is).

Now, this task delay technique doesn’t work for everything. It works best on a job which has immediate and striking results. When she saw how fast the water emptied from the sink the results were so vivid my wife smiled.

I know, because I’ve tried unsuccessfully, I will never be able to get my wife to find somewhere other than over the bathroom sink to dry her hair. After all, that is where the mirror is. But that’s okay; it’ll probably be another 25 years before that drain needs cleaning again. By then I’ll be 84 and since I probably won’t be able to get down beneath the sink to take the drain apart, I’ll just call one of my sons over to do the job. hallelujah, I may have cleaned my last drain.




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