Plumbers and Pauillac

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Below is a story sent to my by a friend recently.  Just goes to show you that you never know where that next bottle might be coming from…

The Best Plumber in the World, by Beth Rudwell

Our plumber is the nicest guy. He will do most any little thing for us…even electrical work, as he is a plumber AND an electrician. Over the past few years he’s been here several times doing the worst of jobs like crawling on his stomach in a sweltering shallow attic wiring up for our new ceiling fan over the bed. Roofing nails were grabbing him from above while he managed his light and the daunting task of crawling among the webs and squirrel droppings to fasten wires. On coming down from that, he was red-faced, fuzzed with insulation bits …looking like an astronaut in his jumpsuit and goggles. He sat under the umbrella with a glass of water trying to breath normally and talking about his health. He would not be able to do this kind of work much longer. Nearing 50 now, and he knew nothing else to do for a living. Could barely lift his little toddler boy due to back trouble.

Our plumber always needs a little help…directions on how to get to his next job…or how to find Best Buy, a little help on the job. I am his assistant, as his business is as a solo plumber/electrician. When he is expected, I set aside a half day if not a whole one. Yesterday, I was posted downstairs at the water heater to listen for certain noises as he ran upstairs to do a maneuver…yelling, “Hey Beth!  Can you hear anything?”

“No!” I called back.

“That’s good. That’s good!!”  He explained that his equipment was old. The NEW gadgets make running up and down obsolete, but he didn’t want to shell out the thousand bucks to update. Next, I was to stand at the tank and watch the numbers. If they jumped from 00 up to as high as 123, I was to shout out. I stared at the numbers like a first grader trying to add 1 and 2. The doorbell rang…timeout…our plumber brought in more equipment…now back to the numbers… “Hey Beth, any jumping?…”

“No jumping!”

“That’s good.  That’s good!”

Our plumber is always hurting, because as a younger man  (he still looks like an athletic teen), his business was water skiing on his feet as a performer. All those extreme shocks had finally caused 5 of his discs to crumble…making him past the point of surgery. Not only does that hurt, but he continually is bumping or scraping into things causing him to complain good naturedly throughout his visit. I keep Bandaids on hand. But he can do anything and is very happy to, on his own accord, bring in the mail or paper or help move things. If one can’t afford to have a plumber, he will give “do it yourself” lessons. He might spend hours figuring out an electrical problem…huffing and puffing with false starts as he forgets which direction things are in the house…like the doors and his tools. But everything gets fixed and that extra time doesn’t translate into a higher charge. He probably knows that time is money, but it just doesn’t apply to him.  You just have to like this guy.

“Hey, Beth….Hey Beth! Do you all drink wine?”

“Yes, why?”

“My last customer really liked my work. I guess he wanted to give me a tip. He took me into a special room where there were racks that looked like X’s all over. There must have been hundreds and hundreds of bottles. This man is obviously very wealthy. I don’t drink wine so I just randomly pulled one out and my client looked at the bottle and said, ‘you have good taste’, and left it at that. The bottle is out in the truck, and if you want it, then it’s yours. None of my family drinks the stuff. Maybe you’ll know something about it. I wouldn’t know. Nobody in my family drinks wine.”

He ran out to the truck, ran in, his 3 inch ex-crew hair sticking straight away from his head as usual, waving the bottle, and he set it on the bar and said, “It’s Red.”

I saw the French words and the date. “It’s French… It’s old..1986. That means it’s probably good….that’s pretty old for wine. Thanks, we’ll save this for a special occasion and drink a toast to you. Thanks!”. I was thinking maybe George’s birthday…or Christmas Eve.

George came home from work. “What’s this?  You been to the store for wine?”

“No, the plumber gave it to us.”

“Hmm, looks interesting, I’ve never had anything like this. Better google it.”


From the other room I hear “$600!”  Then, “No, that’s just for a half-bottle!  $1,200!!”

We laughed, and later went to bed laughing at the amazing reality of a single day’s events. And to think we almost called Stemlers (big plumbing company in town). Our plumber is the nicest guy.


A postscript to this story: Being the kind and gentle person that Beth is, she had of course asked the plumber if he wanted the bottle back, as he obviously didn’t realise what he had given them. To his credit and her joy, he told her to enjoy it… and that she did.

If only all plumbers came with one…

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