Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: JAM (02/09/17)
- TITLE: A Pipe Dream for a Bayard...
By Noel Mitaxa
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Ticking such options would surely sour the long-term appreciation of his prospective parents-in-law; but he had walked into a more immediate challenge. To complete what he’d offered to do for them in their backyard project.
Planned extensions at the rear of their house suddenly faced a challenge. An underground water pipe was blocking the line of stumps for the foundations. To leave it, where it could contact the corkscrew-shaped blade of the mechanical auger, could cause serious injury to whoever was at the controls. It needed to be completely removed.
The pipe looked well-worth keeping to be recycled, and exposing it was no problem. It only had to be unscrewed from the elbow fitting.
Enter a spray can of penetrating oil and a pipe wrench in Todd’s hands―with legendary adjustable jaws, armed with ratchet-shaped teeth that are designed to let nothing escape.
Enter confidence in his mind.
Exit a cheerful throwaway line from his mouth, “I once heard a plumber say, ‘If it’s jammed - force it. If it breaks – well, it needed replacing anyway!’”
Todd clamped onto the elbow fitting, adjusted the jaws and leaned into the job. With no result.
He leaned harder. Still no result.
He put every ounce of his weight behind the lever, grunting and gasping. Still no change.
Enter grandpa - a retired plumber – whose smile got bigger as he approached. No doubt he’s happy to be watching instead of slaving over this impossible job, thought Todd. But then, to prove that his IQ could outrank an obstinate pipe, he enclosed the wrench handles inside a longer, larger-diameter pipe and boldly announced, “As the ancient Greek philosopher Archimedes said, ‘Give me a lever and I will move the world!’”
Greater leverage now at his disposal refused to improve his dilemma. The pipe and elbow were still jammed, and now he was caught in the chasm between his mouth and his lack of progress.
Looking down into the trench, Grandpa surveyed the mix of ambition and frustration with a smile that widened even more, as years of plumbing experience surfaced in distilled, gentle wisdom.
“Hey Todd, it looks like you and your old mate Archimedes might have to move the world in a different direction,” he observed. “Coz I remember those old fittings well. And what I remember best is that they have a left-hand thread!”
Author’s note: A true story - with modesty preventing me from revealing Todd’s actual identity…
Twisting the wrench in the opposite direction caused the pipe and elbow to part company so quickly that it almost looked like they had wanted to escape from each other after years of mutual hatred! And in a further twisted connection to this topic, a girlfriend became a wife―with the initials J-A-M!
PS The Oxford English Dictionary defines a bayard as one who speaks with the full authority of total ignorance...
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