Wayne's Weekly Reader

by Wayne Klick

May 26, 1999


Last Friday my wife Lucy was thrilled.

Our new washer and dryer had just been delivered and installed.  Now we could wash our clothes and not have to worry about the washer disintegrating during the spin cycle, like we did, based on the noise it made, at the house we rented downtown.  I was off work that day so when she went back to her office (she wanted to oversee the delivery personally) I had a couple of loads to take care of.

I didn't think much of it when the toilets bubbled a bit while the washer drained.  However, later that evening after Lucy did a third load, the tub in our main bathroom backed up with some sediment-looking stuff and clogged.  We still had the other shower to use -- no crisis.  So we did the Draino thing and it cleared out, but then Sunday morning the tiolet in the main bathroom overflowed.

"Okay, so we DO have a problem here," we agreed.  (Remember, we only moved in about 10 days ago.)

The shower was draining slowly but still usable.  However, using the virginally glossy white Amana could not be risked under the circumstances -- we would call a plumber Monday morning.

We decide on who will come home to meet the pipe tech that day, but Duane suggests coming by after one of us gets home from work.

I must say I do not quite know what to make of Duane when he arrives.  I've never hired a plumber before, so I don't have any point of reference, plus I am pretty apprehensive the way you will be when you don't know exactly what's wrong, nor have any real idea what the dreaded bill will turn out to be.

Anyway, Duane pulls up in an unmuffled and very old and beaten van, gets out, and has a big odorous cigar protruding from his mouth of oddly angled teeth.  He is looking down at the ground, searching so it seems.  He sees me and offers a mild greeting.

"I'm looking for where that pipe might be.  You probably don't even know do you?" he says.

I have to admit that I don't.  He takes a long rod with a handle on the end out of his truck and starts poking it into the ground in various places.  He explains that it would be best to find the pipe this way, because if we can't then he'll have to go up on the roof and find the vent pipe.  Duane goes on to say that if there's no vent, then the last resort is to pull the toilet.  Yuk.  He gets out a ladder, thankfully finds the vent on the roof, and pulls his snake and moter up on top of the house with a thick rope.

I'm surprised when Duane invites me to climb the ladder too.  "I'll bet you've never been up here," he says.  He is correct.

After I get up there, he explains some things.

"Anytime the toilet is involved, I know that it's the main line to the sewer, because that's where the toilet always goes.  I knew what it was when I saw that big mulberry tree in your front yard.  Mulberry trees are my friends.  I guarantee you we'll find some pretty yellow roots on the end of that snake."  Once again, he's right.

I didn't know what to make of Duane when he arrived but he proves that he knows his business.  The bill is only $80 so I'm relieved.  After I write him the check he tells me a few more things.  We had first called an outfit named Davis the Plumber because they had a full page ad in the yellow pages.  They couldn't send anybody out that day so they referred us to Duane.  He says to never call somebody with a full page ad, because if they need a full page ad then they are relying on first time customers and not on repeat business and/or referrals.  "Find a someone with a small ad.  They take care of their customers and have been in business for a long time.  Another problem with a place like Davis is you never know who they're going to send out.  You might get the rookie or you might get a 40-year veteran."

Duane also tells me that I've got to do something about the elm bushes on the side of the house.  "They'll get under your foundation and mess everything up.  They're really hard to get rid of.  I finally dug one out and poured rock salt on the roots.  Nothing will grow there now.  It killed my neighbor's cherry tree, but he doesn't know that."  On the way to his van he also tells me that he has in the past considered sending his customers cottonwood saplings for Christmas, with diagrams of where to plant them, but he never followed through.

Like it says on his receipts: Duane's Sewer Service; If it won't drain...call Duane.

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