Well, that’s the spin I’m putting on my phone call to Judsons Plumbing yesterday. To be honest, I feel totally emasculated. I finally had to admit that fixing a leaky kitchen sink faucet was beyond me.
After my first quasi-successful fix-it attempt it took me a week to come to this conclusion. By “quasi,” I mean that I got the single-handle Moen faucet back together after disassembling it down to the cartridge and then not being able to figure how the damn thing came out.
With some struggle I was able to get the faucet into working order again, aside from the minor detail that the hot and cold water directions were reversed. I told my wife that this was a positive, not a negative, as you always hear that people should stimulate their brains by trying new things as they get older to reduce the risk of getting Alzheimer’s.
However, after several days of either scalding my hands when I wanted to rinse them, or starting to wash dishes in cool water, the notion of calling a plumber began to grow on me. After fifteen years of marriage Laurel knew better than to press the subject, recognizing that this was a sensitive area for me—risking my manhood by asking a professional for help with a simple household repair.
She’d merely say things like, “I’m starting to get used to turning the handle to the right to get hot water. Probably by the time the cartridge gives out completely it will seem absolutely natural to me.”
I tried to garner psychological support on the Internet. I read Doug’s tale about how he tried to replace a Moen faucet cartridge and got in over his head. I poured over Kent’s discovery that he needed a Moen Core Puller, whatever the heck that is. I also took heart when I saw Kent’s mention that he worked on motorcycles yet still had problems with a Moen faucet repair.
“Hey, maybe real men actually do call plumbers,” I began to think. I pondered Kent’s manly advice:
So what's the point of this story and what does it have to do with motorcycling? That's pretty simple really. It's lessons learned about doing things yourself instead of paying an expert to do the job for you. Before beginning a job asking yourself some basic questions can save a lot of grief.
--Have you done a repair like this before?
--If you've not done the repair before, have you done one in the past that was similar enough to prepare you for the current task?
--Do you have the mechanical skills needed to complete the job?
--Do you have the manual/instructions for the job?
--Do you have the correct tools?
--If you don't have the tools, is it more economical to purchase the tools, or pay someone to do the job that does have them?
--How long will it take you to do the job, and would it be more economical to pay someone that has the knowledge and equipment that enables them do it efficiently?
--Is help available if you run into trouble and need advice?
--Do you have a back up plan if you find you cannot complete the job?
--Finally, do you have a blacksmith hammer when all else fails?
My answer to each of these questions was “No” or “I have no clue.” I reached for the phone and dialed Judsons before I lost my nerve.
“Judsons. How may I help you?”
“I need some plumbing assistance.”
“What’s the problem?”
“We’ve got a leaky faucet.”
At that point I envisioned the woman putting me on hold while she ran into the Judsons break room and regaled her fellow staff with the customer story of the day. “Hey, you won’t believe this. A guy just called and wants help with a simple leaky faucet. What a weenie! What a wuss!”
As unlikely as this scenario might be (after all, home repair-challenged men are the bread and butter of a plumbing company like Judsons), I found myself starting to babble to the woman about Doug and Kent and core pullers and how I got the faucet disassembled and (more or less) put back together.
Then I became uncomfortably conscious of my male defensiveness and shut up. She said “Would next Tuesday work out for you?” “Sure.”
Hanging up the phone, I went upstairs, turned on the TV, and grabbed the remote control. Switching channels whenever I pleased, I began to feel like a man again.
At least, until Tuesday.