It's early. I am up to check to make sure the football games we captured and published to the VOD channels last night made it to air this morning.They did, and now I am wide awake. So, I made some coffee and a bowl of oatmeal and I thought I'd catch you up on the silly shit that makes up my Life. I call it my Sunday MopUp, and it goes like this:
Getting Into Hot Water
I own a townhouse that was built in 1969. Much of the place still has the original equipment from back then. This includes my electric hot water heater. Now, that is an unusually long ass life for a water heater, and I have been aware that it is on its last legs for several years now. I've procrastinated about getting a new one forever, it seems.
A few years ago, The X and I noticed a serious decrease in the hot water pressure in the upstairs shower. Being the mechanically inept homos that we were, we called a plumber and a guy came out, surveyed the situation, and informed us that the water heater was so old that it was passing chunks of calcification through the hot water line, and these chunks were causing blockages at the diverter in the shower. We just nodded like we knew what the fuck he was talking about while fantasizing about whether the guy was going to bend over at some point to reveal his hairy crack. Hey, you spend that kinda money on a service call, you expect a little show.
He went out to the water main, somewhere behind our unit, shut down the water, disassembled the shower, showed us a couple of chunks of funk within the diverter, put the whole thing back together, and charged me about a hundred bucks without ever revealing any glimpse of ass. Oh, well. When we cranked on the water in the bathroom, we were back in business. Hotness returned.
The lesson was: a new water heater needed to be bought and installed, for this would surely happen again.
That was about six years ago, I guess. Did I do anything about replacing the heater? Umm...are you serious? Don't you know me well enough by now to know better than to wonder such things?
So, last week I crawl into the shower to start my day, and the hot water pressure is limp and flaccid again. Oh, great. I'm standing naked under my rain shower head, with lukewarm dribbles and drools (from the SHOWER, not me!) streaming down my chest and I realize what is going on. I curse myself for not dealing with this since the last time, and switch the diverter to Cold and take a cold shower, since the water pressure with the cold line is absolutely fine. I dance like an epileptic marionette while hosing down, lathering up, rinsing off, and shampooing.
Now, I'm days away from my next paycheck, so I think about what action to take here. Call a plumber again to clean out the line, try to clean the line out myself, or bite the bullet and finally buy the water heater that I KNOW I need? Dropping a hundred bucks on a plumber (with or without a furry butt) seemed like a waste, I CERTAINLY don't have the skills to fix this myself, and I have known all along that I needed replace the ancient contraption. I decide to wait until payday and then buy a new one.
I take cold morning showers for about a week. The friggin' HORROR! The only thing that saved me was my daily trip to the gym, where each workout was followed up with a HOT, LUXURIOUS shower in the locker room. Thank God for those. It really helped motivate me to go to the gym during that time period.
So, Friday at work, I look at Home Depot's website and find an electric water heater for $388.00 and a mention of installation services. Not a word about the cost of such installation. So, I call the 800 number and talk to a Little Thing who walks me through the process. Turns out, I am promised a replacement heater, INSTALLED ON A SATURDAY, for $663.00. Jesus, that is some serious cabbage in my world, but I cannot stand the thought of another morning of my penis retracting into my abdomen as I stand under a cold shower yet again. So, I agree to the deal, give her my credit card information, and am told that I should expect a phone call from the Install Dude by 10:30AM the next morning.
Saturday morning it is pushing 11AM and there has been no phone call. I have the phone number of the company that is to do the work, and all I get is a voice message stating that no one is there to answer the phone, please leave a message and blah-blah blah. I left a message, all right. I stated that I was promised a new water heater TODAY and I expect a call back asap. I then call Home Depot and another Little Thing puts me on hold while she calls the installation people. She comes back on the line to inform me that the company contracted out to do such things is closed on the weekend, and I will have to wait until Monday to get the water heater.
[Cue me going ballistic]
Chickiepoo apologizes and offers me a 50 dollar Home Depot gift card for my inconvenience. I state, emphatically, that 50 bucks isn't gonna cut it. I'm having visions of my shrivelled genitals lodged somewhere in my chest for two more days. I bark that I need to cancel the order, because I have to find another solution to my issue immediately.
She puts me on hold and comes back, stating that her supervisor has agreed to trim 10% off the package price, along with that fifty dollar gift card, if I can just hang on until Monday. The adjustment puts the installed tank to under $600 dollars now. I breathe deeply, tell myself that I can shower at the gym the rest of the weekend, and agree to the deal. She takes my credit card info from me again, credits me for 10% of the price, and we hang up. I immediately begin packing up for the gym.
Within fifteen minutes I get another phone call. This time it's from the contracted installation company. Installer Dude is calling to tell me that he can be at my place in an hour. I tell him that the store told me that I couldn't get the job done until Monday. He laughed and said that Home Depot has their head up their ass. I told him to come on over, and I'm giddy now that a hot shower in my house today is close to becoming a reality.
By the way, did I call Home Depot back and inform them that I was getting the work done on that day after all? Did I offer them their 10% back? C'mon now...
His name was Will, and he was a big, burly, hairy-assed (I'd bet) guy who had a little sidekick named Brandon in tow. He took one look at the old tank and pulled out his clipboard.
"We have some problems", he stated.
Seems the City of Austin requires a permit to do such work. A permit which, by law, he must follow in order to keep his company out of trouble. He showed me the permit. We went item-by-item through it. See, my old heater was installed so long ago, it wasn't up to code in a shitload of ways. Here were the additional steps, and costs, needed in order for jimmycity to have hot water once again:
1. Installation of time clock for water heater: $375.00
2. Water heater drain pan installed to Code: $124.00
3. Temperature and pressure relief valves: $65.00
4. Vacuum breaker installed on bibb hoses: $50.00
5 Smoke Alarm installed, tested, working: $45.00
Adding that figure to the cost of purchase and installation of the new tank took my cost to nearly $1250.00
[Cue me beginning to froth at the mouth as my blood pressure spikes]
Look, this wasn't Hairy-Assed-I-Bet Will's fault. This was a requirement of the City. The reason, by the way, that the time clock was so expensive, was that an electrician would need to come out and wire an electrical outlet, cuz, like, I didn't have one there.
When I was able to breathe again, I explained that I didn't have the budget to make this happen. He nodded and assured me that he would feel the same way. He suggested I find an independent person, like a buddy or something, to help me do it myself. Yeah, right.
The fact is, I could try to talk my video tech at work into taking this on as a project. I could pay him cash for his effort. He knows electric and plumbing. Hell, he BUILT his own house 20 years ago. I could work alongside him, we could hit the Plumbing Supply Store (where Hairy-Assed-I-Bet Will said I could probably find a water heater for $250.00) and probably get the whole thing up to code for HALF of what this guy wanted to charge me
I sent him on his way, called Home Depot and canceled the installation scheduled for Monday (heh!)and got the final Little Thing to credit the cost of everything back to my credit card.
I was back at Square One. Still with no hot water in the shower. Okay. Now, I needed to find a plumber on a Saturday to cut the water off and unclog my shower lines, or I would have to try to fix it myself.
What the fuck? I decided I would try to unclog the line myself. You can do this, Jim!
I found the water main. I had never seen it before. It was under a manhole cover back behind the townhouse unit, along a fence line, on a street between two tiny trees and some bushes. Once I got the cover off (no small feat in and of itself), I used a BigAss wrench to torque the rusted valve to the "Off" position. I was bent over, supporting myself again one of the small trees. I think I killed that fucker by the time I was done. I KNOW I wrenched my back in the process.
Once the water was off, I went upstairs into the bathroom and began taking the shower apart. At least fifteen pieces of shit to remove and account for, and try to remember the position they were in as well as the order in which they were removed, so I could put the bitch back together when I was done. I was swearing like a sailor. More cuss words than I use here. No kidding! Hard to believe, I know...
When I pulled the diverter out, a chuck of calcified crud fell out of the back of it. That was the problem! I checked for more stuff, found some, cleaned it out, and began the process of putting the shower back together.
What took me 10 minutes to take apart took nearly an hour to put back together. Rubik's Motherfucking Cube. No lie.
But, when I was done, I went back to the water main, grunted like a gorilla while trying to get the rusty valve open again, closed up the manhole cover (say it with me..."manhole"...yeah, that's right!), and trooped back up to the bathroom and turned on the water.
Sweet, sweet hot water poured down upon me with full pressure. Testosterone coursed through my veins. I raised my arms in Victory, sniffed my sweat-soaked armpits and rejoiced in my Manliness and Butchness. Jesus, I really needed a shower! But now, I could take one.
And, take one I did.
Some Stuff Some Friends Sent:
One Small Leap
It's July 21st, 1969, and Neil Armstrong has just taken a giant leap for mankind. In Muskogee, Oklahoma, one man is turning back the evolutionary clock.
I have a friend Up North who is quite good at graphic design. He sent me the following:
And, finally, since Halloween approacheth, he sent me the a really cool graphic for a Halloween card he put out this year. I meant to save it for this week and share it with you all, but managed to forget to stash the pic, and it has fallen out of my email. Damn it!
I've stated before that I hate Halloween. In MY mind, it's a kid's holiday that adults use as an excuse to get shitfaced, drive drunk, and puke around town. But those are just MY prejudices. If you love Halloween, I hope you have fun. In any case, have a safe holiday!