Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Deep End....

I'm going to take the advice of Skype's opening message... "Take a deep breath."

I just had the plumbers here. The bathtub drain was clogged and not getting any better despite the weapons of mass chemical destruction over the past few weeks. I finally called the plumber today expecting that they would be able to get here on Monday. I got the number from one of those cards that gets shoved under the door... you know, Infos Quartier: Electricite, Serrurerie, Plomberie, etc... They said they could come by this afternoon. Hoo-ray!

I should give you a little history... I have long hair. My son has long hair. This is not the first time this has happened. But, in our defense, it always seems to happen after la rentree. Here's my theory: in August, people are gone for a month, the drains in the building get limited usage... not a lot of hot water passing through the pipes to keep things moving, the goo has a chance to 'solidify' and clog up the works. Everyone comes home at around the same time and all of a sudden, the pipes go into overload and stuff gets backed up. Add hair to this equation. Still with me? Nod your head and say yeah.

So, this afternoon the plumbers (Actif-Services) show up. They looked like Dumb and Dumber. Ugh. I won't even mention butt crack. (No offense to Joe the Plumber!) They immediately go into the good plumber, bad plumber routine. "It can be fixed." "It can't be fixed." They pulled out the POWER PLUNGER. Mind you, I know that a power plunger goes for about 30-40 euros retail. I almost bought one a few years ago and I still kick myself in the butt (pardon my potty humor!) for not having done so!

They made a grand show of said apparatus and power plunged a few times. Now, even I know, YOU HAVE TO PLUG THE OTHER DRAINS AND OVERFLOW HOLES TO GET SUCTION. EXCUSE ME! I politely mentioned this to them. Dumb says, there must be a flood. [what?] Dumber nods his head and they go into my son's room and pull the bed away to access the pipes. There's no flood. So, they "confer" and Dumb starts writing up a big list of everything that needs to be replaced. Pipes, drains, sockets, wiring... Dumber is nodding his head in agreement. They present me with a devis for 998 euros hors taxe. All I'm thinking now is how much do I owe these guys just for showing up? So I asked them. Dumber (or Dumb, I can't remember who was good plumber in this) pulls out his power plunger again and says "We can do this, allons-y!"

Plot spoiler coming up: Here's a trick I am going to pass along in the interest of humanity. After power plunging for a few more plunges, he took the shower hose, removed the showerhead, and shoved the "hose" into the bathtub drain. He blocked it off with a good guest towel (grr) and proceeded to open the hot water tap full steam ahead. He let the HOT water run for a good three minutes or so, then whipped out the power plunger and pumped that baby a few more times: water, air, water, air, water, air, water, air... Guess what?

Yes, the almighty drain orgasm. That orbiting spiral of water, the release of a gurgling sigh as the clog gave up its soul... If I still smoked, I would have been puffing a big one. Ahhhhh.

Segue into the living room. This is where it got hairy. (Again, pardon my pun.)

Dumb (or Dumber) reworks the devis to a mere 568 euros. "A promotion!" My face must have been a visual for "are you out of your fucking mind?" because Dumber (or Dumb) immediately got on the cell phone to his "patron" to discuss the price. I pulled out the receipt for the exact same work on the exact same pipes done almost exactly 2 years ago for a total of 118 euros and 60 centimes. I also pulled out my checkbook and wrote a check for 150 euros. I got a friend on the phone in case I needed back up and I told them to take it or leave it. Dumb wrote up a new devis, added "prix promo", took my check, packed up and they left. Good riddance.

Here's a shameless plug: Do not call anyone (except perhaps the pompiers) on those "under the door" cards. Holley Duran is a reputable plumber. I used them two years ago and I should have called them back. (I found their old receipt in my 2005 books.) Go with what you know.

And away go troubles down the drain...

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