Plumber bangs on pipes in the basement, whistles, and then leaves job unfinished

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a family member, who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.

We have a boiler to heat our home in winter, and it surely is coming in handy in today's cold temperatures. Once a year, the oil company sends out a technician to give our boiler a thorough exam and clean it out before winter sets in.

One year, the company sent out a man who brought a "helper" with him, his toddler son. The man seemed professional, and the young boy seemed well-behaved. It's easy to imagine how hard it is to find reliable child care. So we excused the strangeness of having an HVAC technician in our basement with a preschooler in tow.

Sometimes people have to get creative to make things work, especially a parent.

The duo disappeared down the basement stairs and got to work, supposedly.

My mother could hear the sounds of banging and clanging on the pipes in the basement. She heard the man whistling and singing and occasionally the sound of a little boy's voice followed by another loud bang on the pipes.

No one had ever made that much noise doing annual maintenance before.

After fifteen minutes, my mother heard a knock on the kitchen door. The technician and the boy stood there, none the worse for wear.

"Have you finished already?" my mother asked. "It seems as if you just got here."

"If you know what you're doing, it goes by really fast," the man replied.

When my father got home from work, my mother told him about the speedy express job the man had done on the boiler. My father went downstairs to investigate. "He didn't do a single thing," he told my mother. "Are you sure someone was even here?"

My mother called the company the following day to report the problem. The person on the other end of the phone seemed dubious. My mother finally convinced them to send out another technician, who confirmed it.

The previous technician hadn't done a thing.

Yet a third technician appeared the next day to complete the work. Perhaps the second fellow was so convinced my mother was mistaken that he didn't bother to bring his equipment. In any event, they finally got the work done, and the boiler was made ready for winter.

"I still can't figure out what was going on," my mother told me. "Why did he have that little boy with him, and why did he bang on the pipes? They don't even do that when they are actually servicing the boiler.

We never had an experience like that again, and we still use the same oil company to deliver our oil and service our boiler.

What would you have done? Comments are welcome.

Why would I ask you to Buy Me a Coffee? I am a full-time writer and a full-time unpaid caregiver to my 82-year-old father, who lives with Parkinson's. 100% of your tip or donation goes toward paying for my dad's groceries. Thank you.

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Writing about relationships online since 2009.

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