Wa­ter woes and un­sung men

The Compass - - EDITORIAL -

There comes a time in all our lives, I s’pose, when we have trou­ble with our wa­ter. My grief be­gan mid-win­ter, smack dab in the mid­dle of March.

The first in­di­ca­tion of a prob­lem was re­duced flow.

Oddly enough, Dear­est Duck was the one who dis­cov­ered the weak­ened stream.

“Harry, my hear­ing-loss honey,” she said, “there’s a hiss in the bath­room and the pres­sure in the taps is re­duced to about half.”

[Oh, I don’t s’pose you thought I was talk­ing about blad­der dys­func­tion, did you?] Any­way… “I don’t hear any­thing,” I said, lean­ing over the bath­room sink and fid­dling with the taps.

“That’s be­cause you’re half deaf,” Dear­est Duck said in my ear…

…the ear I pro­ceeded to lodge right on top of the faucet spout. Tisssssssssh. “I ‘ low there’s a leak in the wa­ter­line,” said I.

“Oh my,” said Dear­est Duck, reach­ing above the sink, open­ing the medicine cabi­net and reach­ing down my econ­omy-size bot­tle of nerve pills.

Cup­ping a hand­ful of wa­ter from the drib­bling tap, I glutched down half a dozen big fat tablets.

Help­ing me sit on the edge of the bath­tub, Dear­est asked, “What do we do now?”

Strug­gling—with the aid of nerve pills as big as jelly­beans—to deal with the ful­fill­ment of a life­time fear of bro­ken pipes, I man­aged to gasp, “Call the town coun­cil.”

And so, when I was com­posed suf­fi­ciently to op­er­ate a tele­phone, I did.

By the time the public works fore­man ar­rived at our gate, the hiss in the taps had be­come a roar in the wall.

Clear­ing snow — this was March month, re­mem­ber — with the toe of his boot, then us­ing a rig re­sem­bling a stetho­scope, the public worker lis­tened at the curb-stop like a doc­tor dou­ble check­ing an ail­ing heart.

“Def­i­nitely a leak,” he said, a dire di­ag­no­sis. “Prob­a­bly at the main.”

Dear­est Duck shook me out a cou­ple more pills and — for good mea­sure — swal­lowed one her­self.

Next morn­ing, shortly af­ter the crack of dawn, an ex­ca­va­tor ap­peared at the top of our drive­way and com­menced, like a clank­ing di­nosaur, to plow its way through the six-foot drift stog­ging the lane.

When the digger ex­tended its claw to hook open the ground, wa­ter was bub­bling up through the sod like oil in Jed Clam­pett’s gar­den.

With the first scoop of frozen soil, my wa­ter woes ended — sorta — be­cause re­pairs were in mo­tion and I soon be­gan to hum a tune for un­sung work­men. The coun­cil crew. You know such men are uni­ver­sally de­rided for lean­ing on their shov­els, eh b’ys?

That de­pic­tion isn’t fair. Not by a long shot.

While, un­no­ticed, I su­per­vised from the pa­tio, a cou­ple of fel­lows stood on guard, shov­els in hand, wait­ing for the ex­ca­va­tor to… well, to ex­ca­vate a hole — a hole that rapidly filled with ice-cold win­ter wa­ter — deep enough for them to jump into. Which they did with a will. Wa­ter as cold as Jack Frost’s … well, let’s say Jack Frost’s wa­ter, slopped over the tops of their rub­ber boots and sopped their stocks.

Soaked to their knees, de­spite a pump strain­ing to suck away the welling wa­ter, they plied their shov­els en­er­get­i­cally, fol­low­ing aged cop­per pipe to­wards the main, into the bow­els of the pit like ea­ger min­ers trac­ing a vein of gold in search of the moth­er­lode.

I re­peat, it was a sub-zero day in March.

The men in the hole had to be freez­ing. Sure, in­side my snow boots on the pa­tio, my poor feet were numb. “Harry!” Like ants, or busy beavers, or some­thing or other work­ing in­dus­tri­ously, the coun­cil men dug and splashed and flowsed in the wet un­til they lo­cated the stop­cock on the main…

…the stop­cock that spurted like Old Faith­ful, drench­ing ev­ery­one in range.

One un­sung hardy — kinda like that Dutch boy at the leaky dike — plugged Old Faith­ful with his booted toe while the sump pump wheezed.

Then the bravest of them all hauled off his gloves, grabbed a wrench and dove in up to his el­bows, sub­merg­ing his naked hands in icy wa­ter to turn off a valve that choked Old Faith­ful.

On the pa­tio, I tucked my mit­tened hands into my armpits, hardly able to look at buddy’s hands blue from the cold.

“Thanks, b’ys. Thanks,” I said when a brand new wa­ter­line was in­stalled and buried. I hope I grov­elled suf­fi­ciently. Now here’s the thing. What­ever their present salaries, those men aren’t paid enough, eh b’ys?

Thank you for read­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.