Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Is "Gumby" listed in the phone book?

I have a newfound respect for plumbers.

I'll be honest, when I think of plumbers, I think about a guy tinkering around under a kitchen sink. I'm thinking the most difficult part of the task is finding the leak and fixing it.

However, this is no longer my thinking.

Instead, I am pretty sure these guys are part Gumby. You know, that green clay humanoid character.

It's the only way I can fathom those guys actually getting the job done. I know this because I needed to do a "plumber-type" task in my home and I was nearly reaching for the phone to dial 9-1-1. That is, if I would have been able to get to the phone.

Which I couldn't.

And herein is where the newfound respect comes into play.

I had a wall-texturing guy coming to our house to texture the walls of our entry bathroom. Mind you, this is just a small half bath great for our kids to wash their hands before dinner and guests who need to "use the facilities." In my father's words, "That bathroom is so small you have to decide what you're going to do before you go in so you make sure you enter facing the right direction." To be fair, it's not that small, but my Dad likes to exaggerate a bit.

Anyway...I needed to remove the tank from the toilet so the guy could texture behind it.

I figured it can't be that hard.

My husband told me to call a plumber.


In his defense, we have a friend who is a plumber, so my husband really just wanted me to call him to find out how to do it - utilize our resource pool type of idea. My husband likes to consult the experts.

I thought that was ridiculous. I simply just Google anything I don't know.

So that's what I did.

And I came across a wonderful blog post detailing the process by a mother who also was left to do an unpleasant task such as this. Plus she had good commentary to go with each step. I like that.

Okay, it seemed simple enough. I wasn't worried.

Until I stepped into my bathroom.

And realized the toilet allows maybe six inches on either side of the bowl to maneuver. I thought maybe I could just reach my hand back there to remove the nuts from bolts.

Um, no.

NOT feasible.

Okay, I had no other choice. I had to get down on that floor and squeeze into that miniscule space.

So I get down there, and attempt to lift my arm to put that pliers to use, and I am stuck.

Instant panic.

Then I remind myself plumbers are not typically small people. And they do this. Certainly I can do this.

I wiggle my way out and try again. This time, making sure my arm is above my head before I get into position.

One is off. YES!

I proceed to the next one. This one is placed at a precise angle that is nearly impossible for me to move my arm enough to get a good grip. I struggle to get the pliers in place.

It slips from my hand.

I cannot physically reach to pick it up as I am not Gumby.

I am going to have to shimmy my way out of that tight spot again to retrieve the crazy pliers.

And I'm stuck.

Now I really panic.

And I'm sweating.

I think of what it will be like when my husband gets home from work in 6 hours and I'm stuck between a toilet and the wall. The school will have called repeatedly telling me I need to pick up my children, but I will be unable to get to the phone. My two-year-old will have eaten everything in the pantry that is at a 2 to 4 foot level, smearing crumbs throughout the house, giggling profusely as he refuses to hand me the phone.

I cannot allow these things to happen. I close my eyes and try to relax. Then I wiggle free and figure I need a new plan. The nut isn't budging anyway, so I head to the garage to survey the toolbox.

Wrenches. Well, that makes sense. But I never can figure out which one will fit. So I bring in a couple and give it a try.

Of course, neither are a fit.

Back to the tool box. I am confident I've grabbed the right size now.

Sure enough. It fits. But by this point, I'm tired. And I'm weak. And turning that ridiculous wrench seems impossible.

I'm starting to wonder if I could find the phone number for our plumber friend.

But I refuse to throw up the white flag. I pray instead. Then I gear up for one last-ditch effort to break that nut loose. And it budged!!


I had to return to the floor to get to the third and final nut on the other side of the tank. Ironically, my sense of accomplishment must have shrunk my head and shoulders instead of puffing them up!

Toilet tank removed. Goal attained.


And then, ewww.

Did you know your toilet is really dirty under that tank? Yeah, you probably didn't want to know that.

Cleaning that up seemed like a piece of cake compared to the tank removal.

Seriously, plumbers. How do you do that? I saw our plumber friend on Sunday and noticed his broad shoulders. He'd never have made it out of my bathroom. I would have had to turn him into a throw rug - something - because he'd be part of my permanent decor.

At least then the plumber would be the one to make "cracks" about the unsolicited viewing of another person's posterior cleft!