This I Believe

Entered on December 21, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: work

A Good Plumber is Hard to Find

There is an art to removing a toilet. My experience with toilets and the general plumbing field began four years ago. My parents had purchased a townhouse complex for additional income, while my father, who had lost his job a year prior, worked on becoming a high school math teacher. My uncle, a general contractor, had agreed to help with the repairs and renovations of the townhouses. I had worked with my uncle before, however, with the townhouses, he began to give me greater responsibilities. To his way of thinking, I am sure it was an honor. To my way of thinking, I can assure you it was a nightmare. Needless to say, I began to learn and grow in a way never before thought possible.

My first toilet set the stage for what would become my personal growth plan for the next four years. I was working with my uncle and had just finished hauling endless rolls of cat-pee carpet to the dumpster. New to the business, I was advised that I needed only a simple pair of pliers and an old, rusty wagon. Dutifully I set out, my pliers in hand, my wagon in tow. I propped the townhouse door open and left the wagon outside (anticipating a quick job).

A quick flick of the light switch revealed the porcelain nightmare stationed by the bathtub. “What were the pliers for?” I thought to myself, as I ran my finger under the water tank and searched blindly for the connection. It was a job I would never have considered doing had it not been for the circumstances. But my uncle had sent me on a manly mission – and I was not going to let him (and my manliness) down.

After several bolts the toilet was free and off its base. In reporting back to my uncle, I asked him how to get the toilet to the dumpster. His reply was, “Just throw it over your shoulder.” “Just throw it over my shoulder?” I thought to myself as I walked back across the hot parking lot. “Just throw it over my shoulder,” I thought as I stared at the strange hair resting on the toilet’s brim. Certainly my parents could have found a better way to financially offset my father’s job loss.

Over the past several years, my uncle has taught me many things. I now truly understand what it means to “work for a living.” I understand the importance of family, sacrifice, loyalty, hard work, and discipline. I have watched personal sacrifice and pain offset against optimism and laughter. I have come to understand how truthfully good it feels to place the needs of others ahead of my own. The past four years have brought me great gifts of personal success, understanding, and growth that I would have never had the opportunity to know but for my work with my uncle and my toilets. God truly works in strange ways. This I believe.