911 And The Plumber's Assistant
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Several years ago, in the fall of the year, I spent a week as a plumber's assistant. My job was to replace the flappers in the tanks of the toilets in an apartment complex, in the Wilshire District of Los Angeles. The new flapper would allow only 1.6 gallons to be flushed at one time. The city of L.A. had passed an ordinance that toilets are only to use 1.6 gallons of water to flush for conservation purposes; thus the change of the flappers.
It takes no more than two to three minutes to change the flappers. Most residents of the apartment were understanding and realized that this 6' 2" red head was not a threat to their abodes, except one ex-marine, who stormed the beaches at Normandie, questioned me, like I was a German POW with information that would lead him to Hitler.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm changing your flapper on your toilet for water conservation."
"Well, who sent ya?"
"Do you work for them?"
"I'm a private contractor hired to change flappers. That's all."
"I can't pay you. I'm on a fixed income."
"You don't need to pay me, sir."
"You know, I stormed the beaches of Normandie."
At this time, I was through with the changing. I now performed the test flush. We both looked on.
I gathered my tools and headed for the door.
"Wait a minute, you're not done," the man called me back into the bathroom.
"What do you mean? I changed the flapper and you watched me; what did I forget?"
"You need to change it back."
"I can't sir."
"Change it back! There's not enough water there to wash the craaaaap away!"
"I can't sir, city ordinance prohibits me from doing so."
"Look! I didn't storm the beaches of Normandie just to have a snot-nosed kid (I was a thirty five year old man at the time) tell me I can't flush my toilet. I'm calling 911!"
At this time, the security guard that was working with us showed up and tried to reason with the man, saying that a notice was placed in all of the mail boxes, and that they (the owners) were within their rights to do this. I gathered my tools again and then headed for the door.
As I was leaving this man's apartment, he was carrying out his threat: He was calling 911.
As I walked through his living room to the front door, he was on the phone talking to the operator.
"Hey! What’s your name?"
"BOB!" I replied. My name is Jim.
I left and went on to the next apartment.
Later on that night, I was thinking about the ex-marine and the conversation that must have taken place after I left, with the 911 operator. I have a feeling it went something like this:
"911. What's your emergency?"
"Yeah, there's this man named Bob, who is working on my toilet."
"Is Bob hurting you?"
"What is Bob doing?"
"He's working on my toilet."
"Is your toilet broken sir?"
"What is he doing to your toilet then, sir?"
"He's fixing it so that the craaaaaaaap won't wash away!"
"Yes sir. Let me see if this is correct. You let a man named Bob into your house, to fix your toilet. He fixed it, and now the crap won't wash away. I will send over a patrol car with a plunger named Stan. Maybe that would help?"
The job was completed a few days later. I moved on to more jobs that didn't cause anyone's toilet to not wash away the waste. That was my only experience with toilets before joining the railroad. Now I dump the toilets on the engines, and no one tells me of their days storming the beaches of Normandie. Now the old timers at work tell me how it was when the Southern Pacific was still around.
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