I was just reading a friends a Facebook update. "There's no better way to start your work day than by fixing a leaking faucet..." This sent a rush of memories flooding back to me. While I was growing up, finding out that the old man was going to start a plumbing project was akin to hearing that there was going to be a nuclear assault in our bathroom. In fact a nuclear assault might have been a lot less painful and no one would have to suffer through more than one.
My father always intended to be successful. He was a proficient reader and studier. He could understand a project and get all the best advice, but when it came to adversity he had no defense. That's not completely true, he did have his hammer but more on that later.
For whatever sick reason, plumbing projects always started on Sunday afternoon. Leaky faucets, slow drains or broken toilets could happily malfunction all week without incurring the wrath of "Officer Fixit". Come Sunday those same mild irritations become obstacles in his mind. No obstacles should be allowed to exists in officer Browns' homestead. Obstacles are there for one reason. To be brought down.
So the well planned assault on the sink would begin. My mother would send my sister and I outside so the neighborhood could see that innocents were evacuated from the premises and any sounds of destruction were either on willing adults or lifeless porcelain objects. Sometimes this was just a drill and everything would go fine.
"The leak is fixed Karen"
"What do you mean, 'What?' It's all fixed. Got dinner ready?"
This outcome was welcome, but rare. Mostly it went down like this...
He would be going along fine until some tight part wouldn't come loose, or some loose part could not be tightened. At that point the simmering would begin.
"WHAT! You %&*# thing."
After a bit the hammer would come out. Oh the hammer. What a man's tool. There is no precision required in my fathers methodology. The hammer swings and all pipeworks responds the same. Defeat. Sickening, money sucking defeat. Leaky pipes are now flowing freely, and stopped up drains are shattered in a violent manner across the kitchen floor. The hammer always win. Even if the wielder is the loser the hammer is the winner.
At this point my father would have calmed down a bit. Something about all that hammer swinging is a good workout. He would leave the plumbing with a few choice phrases to let it know, that it didn't have to go down like that. That maybe next time it should be more reasonable, especially when a man owns a framing hammer. Maybe next time the PVC should just do what it claims, as documented in the full colored drawing in figure 1.1 on page 23, in the plumbing book.
He would then go out to buy more supplies. At this point my mother would call in her ten year old boy and she and I would fix the sink before "Thor" and his hammer got back home. I was torn. Part of me wanted praise for my efforts, and part of me wished he would think the sink had fixed itself. No man wants his wife and kid fixing the thing he set asunder.
A good portion of my troubleshooting skills come from these adventures. There is a fair amount of pressure to fix a problem with plenty of time to make a clean getaway. You tend to get very good at kludging together solutions on the fly. A lesson all good troubleshooters need. I'd like to say this only happened once or twice, but that would be a lie. As I said the old man was inexplicably drawn to this weekend plumbing projects. Personally in my own house I avoid plumbing like the plague.
Maybe I should have asked him why he even tried to fix these things. It was a question I never broached. Whether he always believed it would be better than the last time, or just liked the sound a framing hammer makes against plastic...well, I'll never know.