Plumb Me a Song, Mr. Plumber Man

I flushed the toilet. Because that’s what I do when I’m done using the toilet. I flush. Ahem.

A rush of water took my urine away. Because that’s what flushing the toilet does. Clean water returned to the tank. Because that’s what happens after you flush a toilet. Ahem.

Everything was going as planned. But then it wasn’t. The water that was returning to the tank kept returning. It wouldn’t stop. I think the technical term is running. My toilet was running.

I took the lid off the toilet tank. I looked at the water that kept returning to the tank. The water that was running. As though there were any possibility I might be able to fix it.

“Stop running,” I told the toilet.

It didn’t listen.

“Stop running!” I said a little louder.

No response.

I fired up a few YouTube videos. Grew frustrated. Even a little angry. My kind wife Katie came downstairs to see what was happening. See:

“What’s happening?” she asked.

“The toilet broke,” I raged.

The water kept running faster and faster.

“Oh,” Katie said.

I couldn’t fix the running toilet. So I turned the water to the toilet off. It stopped running. Stopped working, too.

And then I was in a crappy mood because I’m always in a crappy mood when something breaks and I don’t know how to fix it. And I don’t know how to fix much, so I’m usually in a crappy mood when something breaks.


I texted our most recent plumber. It was a Sunday. He didn’t text back. Which didn’t bother me too much. He charged me $50 to jiggle a toilet handle the last time he came out.

Monday came, and our most recent plumber didn’t return my call. So I called a different plumber.

“What can I help you with?” a woman asked.

“A broken toilet,” I raged. “Also, the faucet in the upstairs bathroom is leaking.”

It was.

“I can have somebody out there on Tuesday afternoon.”

Delightful. I scheduled the appointment. An elderly man arrived at my house on Tuesday afternoon. He was wearing a mask. Small victory. The previous plumber didn’t wear a mask. Even when he was jiggling my toilet handle and charging me $50. Jiggling my toilet handle is not a phrase I will write again. This is a family blog.

The elderly, masked man came into my house.

“Where’s yinz toilet?” he asked with a thick, Central Pennsylvanian accent. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard a Central Pennsylvanian say yinz followed by the word toilet. Poetry.

The plumber went to work. Put a new fill valve in our basement toilet. Turned the water on. The toilet was no longer running. Xanadu.

“Where’s yinz leaky faucet?” he asked. I showed him. He messed with it for half an hour.

“I need to go into town and get a part,” he told me. “I’ll be back.”

I shrugged. The man returned an hour later. Lowe’s didn’t have the part he needed. So he bought a new faucet. But the new faucet didn’t fit. So he went back to town. Got a new faucet. Rinse and repeat.

Four hours later, we had a new faucet in the upstairs bathroom. And the basement toilet was working. I took out my checkbook.

“What’s the damage?” I asked.

The man quoted a number not fit to repeat by man or beast. My jaw dropped to the floor. But what was I going to do? Refuse to pay?

I wrote out the check. Handed it to the man. I didn’t shake his hand because of the pandemic. Didn’t jiggle his toilet handle, either.

And then he was gone. Like the wind. Like urine taken away by a rush of water.


I’m sorry. I said I wouldn’t write about jiggling somebody’s toilet handle again. And then I went and did it. I don’t know what came over me. Probably has something to do with the astronomical figure the plumber charged me to fix my toilet and replace my bathroom faucet. You’d think the new faucet would be made out of solid gold. It wasn’t. Just metal.

This has turned into a scatological blog. An ode to plumbers. Plumbers of Central Pennsylvania. That would make one heck of a calendar. There would be an elderly man in the picture for May. With a dialogue bubble coming out of his masked mouth. “Yinz toilet,” would be written in the bubble, and he’d be winking at the camera. The backdrop of a dollar sign.

All you have to do is say the word “poop” to my sons Solomon and Samson and they break into laughter. There’s something funny about excrement and human waste. Something gross, too. Which is why it is important to have a working toilet.

I wish I were better at fixing things like broken toilets. I can write blogs to beat the band. And my academic essays are pretty good, if I do say so myself. And you should see me teach! I’m good at those things, I think. I’m not good, however, at plumbing. So let this short blog be a celebration of plumbers. The plumbers of Central Pennsylvania and beyond. Battling Bowser and ensuring that water carries waste away. Keeping everybody’s handles jiggled.

And there I’ve written that vile phrase again. Probably time to bring this blog to a close. To flush the toilet, as it were.


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