Gave away a book

April 24, 2008

Today the toilet wasn’t working.

That’s not exactly true, it was working but it was sharing its contents with my basement. Not a drastic sewage explosion like you might have happen to you at one of the decrepit Fenway Park bathroom stalls, but enough of a little drip to make me call a plumber.

The main reason for calling a plumber instead of delving into some toilet fixing myself proved a good move after-the-fact because it’s clear I know nothing about toilets.

That’s ironic because as a Crohn’s disease patient/person/sufferer I have to use a toilet sometimes as many as 11 times a day. It’s not fun, but it’s what I’m used to. For some people, their cross to bear is testing their blood sugar repeatedly and giving themselves shots. Or there are others who have to go around believing that ADD is a real affliction instead of taking some responsibility and focusing. But I wander.

I’ll tell you at the end how I thought the toilet worked and how wrong I was, but for now let’s compare plumbers to writers.

Plumbers are tradespeople.

Writers are tradespeople.

Plumbers bill hourly or by the project.

Writers bill hourly or by the project.

Many people doubt that plumbing should cost so much.

Most people doubt that writing should cost so much.

But I’m one of the people that realizes how valuable it is to have a skilled tradesperson do a project for you. And I gladly made the check out for $125 for about 15 minutes work.

Could I have fixed my toilet? Sure, if I knew how.

Did I know how? Not even close.

After the plumber left (OH, there is a writing connection to this story…hold tight) I went to the basement and examined his work. The pipe was still icky and wet. The section of pipe that I surmised was the problem hadn’t been touched. And I wondered if I had wasted $125. Then I looked on the other side of the pipe.

Not a waste at all. You see, on the other side of what should have been a white PVC pipe was a nice streak of what can only be called sewage.

It had spilled down the side of the pipe from the seal up in the floor. The seal that was at the base of the toilet. The seal that the plumber appropriately and professionally fixed.

When I sent him to the basement to look at my problem, he immediately turned around and came into the house and attacked the toilet. He knew that the PVC seals weren’t broken. He knew that toilet water wasn’t flowing out of the pipes. He knew that a bad seal was allowing a portion of the toilet contents to visit my basement floor by flowing on the outside of the pipes.

And he fixed it perfectly. Now I have some basement cleaning to do and some smiling to do. I found a plumber who comes by in an instant and does a bang-up job. I also have retained my faith in tradespeople and perhaps given readers another reason to believe that if they’re not trained to do something, it sometimes (often) is more efficient and affordable to have someone else do it for you.

As for the writing connection…

The plumber’s helper is a mountain biker. He rides near my house and all over the Boston area. When he saw my bike in the basement he was enthusiastic about the bike and the sport and engaged me in conversation about riding. I saw that he was someone who would really appreciate my book so I grabbed one off the shelf and signed it for him.

What book? If you’re a regular reader of this you already know. But if you’re new to my world and just came by to be disgusted by sewage talk, then go google Jeff Cutler and click on the Amazon link. In 2000, I had my first book published by Globe Pequot Press. The book is titled Mountain Bike America: Boston and it’s now out of print.

But I have a few copies sitting around the house and was thrilled to be able to share my trade with the people who were sharing their trade with me. Not everyone can fix a toilet, not everyone can write a coherent sentence or an entire book. But we can both get along in this crazy world.

Doesn’t that make you want to cry? Mostly because you spent the past 14 minutes reading this post and now you realize that you will never get that time back?

Stop whining.

More to come…