Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 02.02.11
Stanstead, Quebec


Don't fear the leaker -- you, too, can plumb, Bob!

Friends, homeowners, handymen, lend me your shears, in addition to any other proper tools you might possess. Do so, for my toolbox lacks the means to effectively carry out my home repairs, specifically the subjugation of the drips, the clogs, the inefficient double-flushes that plague this abode. Give me your pliers, your pumps, your muddied wrenches yearning to set free the stuck things.

For though my attempts at the plumbing arts have made me not unlike a fish directing traffic -- ill-suited for the job and more than a bit wet -- I am prepared to undertake the repair before me. Yea, I say to you, I shall plumb!

And so must you, my brethren of the cistern, you ladies of easy levers. I call on you to plumb. Plumb with abandonment, plumb with courage, plumb with plenty of towels handy.

Perhaps you are once as I was, cowering before the corroded copper, fleeing from the faulty faucet. Perchance you have been drained of plumbing fortitude by a lifetime of slow drips that have been rendered, after your meddling, a gushing stream, much like the tears that ran down your dear one's face when she saw that you had sopped up the flood with her "What Would Jesus Shampoo?" bathmat.

Do you carry the scars of humiliation brought about when the professional you so abjectly telephoned chortled disdainfully when he saw that you had attempted to seal a leak with electrical tape?

Is the persistent dribble from the hot water tap a ghastly reminder of your wishy-washy ways with washers?

Do your cheeks burn with shame at your failure to caulk?

Perhaps you, like me, have experienced the Seven Stages of Plumbing:

    1. Denial: The drip will fix itself; the natural minerals and gunk in the water will clog the drippy bit.

    2. Delusion: The drip can be remedied by the application of Teflon tape (not electrical tape!) and/or the strategic placement of a regularly emptied yogurt tub.

    3. Bargaining: Just let me try this one thing, and if that doesn't work, I'll call the plumber. 4. Shock: Water! Hot water spraying everywhere! Oh, the humidity!

    5. Anger: Did you honestly think you could repair this yourself? Jesus is ruined!

    6. Acceptance: Call the plumber.

    7. Depression: Get the plumber's bill.

But I say to you, my friend, you needn't be ashamed and dreary. You can plumb. You must plumb. It is your God-given right -- nay, your duty! -- to fiddle with float valves, dabble in drains, sink your teeth into sinks.

For you must ask yourself this most important question: what's the worst that can happen?

In the planning rooms of the nation, do they speak with fevered brows of tragic plumbing deaths? No. Are men and women crippled and made burdens on society due to devastating drain-snake disasters? No. Have you lost the use of your downstairs bathroom for a week because of your incompetence? Yes, but was it really so bad?

At worst, you fail, you exacerbate, you call the plumber. But if you succeed? Ah, if you succeed... glory!

And so, you, grunting and grimacing as you struggle with a fitting, only to remember far too late that it's "lefty loosey, righty tighty," waste not a moment of indignity on your ineptitude, for thankfully no one was looking.

You with the backwards-turning but still perfectly serviceable cold-water faucet, be proud of your work, even as the water splashes on your crotch in a torrent when you thought you were actually turning it off.

You there, staring at the leftover part from your recently installed showerhead, is the shower working? More or less? Than care not for the superfluous supplies!

For you are a home plumber! You are adequate!

Take up the sump pump in the hole: to you from failing hands we throw the wrench; be yours to turn it sort of tight.

Ross Murray's collection, You're Not Going to Eat That, Are You?, is available in Quebec in area book stores and through He can be reached at