Posted by: guinness222 | September 27, 2006

Water, People, and dumbness

One of my clients was grousing about high costs of water and sewerage hookups a few weeks ago. Since it is that time of the year when I have to prepare annual budgets for all of them I began the process, and indeed noted that they were already 300% over the annual budget with three more months in the year! (Bare in mind I only took over this account in June and haven’t had time for a real indepth look yet. In fact out of my eleven clients I’ve only been able to go in depth on three so far in four months! ) Anyway I never even see the water bills as they are deemed “mundane and repetitive” so they are just entered by the accountants. I went to the particular accountant who handled this account and asked about the crazy spikes in water usage, and if she could run me a three year history to look at. She did, scanned it quickly and handed it to me with a comment to the effect that “it’s not my fault, I just put the shit in the computer”. When I looked at the history it was obvious that the bill had risen from a mere$450 a month to over $3,000 a month in less than 30 months! A quick ananlysis of business confirmed that if anything the bill should have declined! The next day I got a call from the client telling me that the landscaper found a “little leak” in one of the flower beds near one of the palm trees, and it wasn’t irrigation water. (Down here most irrigation water is pumped from wells on prpoerty and the high sulfer content of well water,…well let’s just say unless you stuff huge bannanas up your nose you can tell right away what is well water,..or rotton eggs in your pocket)
I went over and took a look. A little puddle about eight inches in diameter formed in the bed and it was “roiling” sort of the old cookbook “bring to a gentle simmer”. (More local commentary: we live on a bloody sandbar, ergo anything wet is completely absorbed instantly and “percolates” through the soil almost faster than you can see!) The only time you see something “simmering” like this puddle is when the local ground has become super saturated and the water is having a harder time “percolating down, therefor it percolates to the path of least resistance,UP. Shit, a leak!
The water company came immediately when I called, they looked at it and confirmed it, “Yup, you got a pretty good leak here” and then proceeded to inform me it was on my side of the water meter, and not thier problem!! The water guy was helpful, nice, and even laid down and stuck his whole arm into the puddle and told me he did’nt feel a pipe but couldn’t reach anr further because the roos of the palm tree were everywhere, and in fact the pipe might just be in the roots and that’s what caused the leak. I went to the water company and appealed to them, asking if there was not some “flag” in thier computer that told them our useage went up over 600% in twenty four months and after two major hurricanes which chopped buiness ergo tourists by twenty percent and they didn’t notice anything amiss? To no avail, very supportive, sent the water guy back to double check it was city water “Yup, that’s our water.” Three more water guys stopped out and looked it all over and all agreed. Meanwhile I call the plumber, he get’s there in 30 minutes looks at it and also confirms a leak. (By this time I’m looking for a little newer information than “Yup it’s a leak”! ) Plumber tells me he might be able to get to it tomorrow afternoon, and he’ll call me later to confirm it. What the hell, it’s been leaking for almost two and a half years now, what’s another 24 hours.
“You better call them guys out to mark the utilities so I know where not to dig.” Good idea, so I call this “800” hot line, get the third degree and answered about 60 questions, give them my cell phone number and am told “OK we’ll let the utilities know and they’ll get in touch. Man I’m impressed with these guys. Within 30 minutes every utility in the western hemisphere called to verify the location, get a description of the problem and tell me they were on the way to msrk thier particuler utility. Within twenty minutes they started whizzing into the parking lot. They’d all jump out grab a thing that looked like a caulking gun with a flouresent paint can in it, a little meter sort of device attached to a plastic “wand” and start roaming around until thier little meter thing began to buzz. Then they would walk around following the little beeping and buzzing noises, hit the ground with a blob of paint, and move on further. Each utility had a different color and pattern. The cable TV and Telephone guys used orange, and a solid line of paint, the gas guys use bright yellow, and since we didn’t have any gas lines on the property wrote an eighteen inch big “OK” in flouresent yellow on the little bush in the flower bed! The electric guy uses red dots, three dots paralell to indicate it’s three phase electric ergo three different lines. And the water guy says “No sense spraying the bushes, the water lines below the big puddle that’s bubbling.” (God I love solid logic and impeccable reasoning!) Within threee hours all done and thier gone and I’m standing there eating a cold Taco Bell Burrito waiting for the plumber to call back.
He finally calls and conforms the “big dig” for tomorrow afternoon. I ask him to call me when he’s heading over and I’ll meet him there. Home to bed, another day of fun tomorrow!

Sure enough he calls around 1 pm. So I head over. (Now I’ve already let everyone know the water to the entire building will be shut off from noon to five while we solve the problem) Stomach growling again, swing through Taco Bell and grab a Burrito again for lunch on the drive over. By the time I get there he’s got the back hoe out and ready, two other plumbers with him, and he’s surveying the area. “Sort of dumb putting the electric line only six inched away from the water line, reckon I’ll have to watch that pretty good, don’t want to hook no electric line while I sitting in this rig in a puddle of water.” So he climbs up and begins. Three scoops later he hooks the irrigation line, jumps down cuts it and mutters “I’ll fix that son-a-bitch later” jumps back up and starts chomping away on his chewing tobacco and running the back hoe. Whe he gets down about four feet he tells the other plumber, “Guess we’re pretty close, ease that water back on so I can see where it’s coming from” Sure enough a few minutes later water starts bubbling up. He climbs down in the hole sticks his are down in the growing puddle, looks up with a goofy grin and say’s “Got her!” He starts feeling around in the hole and in a minute or so the grin turns to a BIG frown. “Shit there’s a damn tee right there, this’ll be trickier than I thought”
Fifteen minutes of hand digging later the offfending pipe is fully exposed, and it’s right at the junction of the tee that the big open crack is staring at me. The plumber walks over to his truck drags out a big box of PVC couplings, joints, pieces of pipe and the can of “goop”(a clear goo that you just slap on the ends of the PVC then you just shove them in the joint and in fifteen seconds an atomic bomb is needed to seperate them again ever. It takes him all of ten minutes to chop out the entiure offending section and two foot either side of it, take his little box of lego parts and “goop” and fix it, and another five minutes dumping the dirt back in the hole. Oh I forgot the test part. “Go open a faucet down the other end of the building and leave her wide open for about ten minutes”, he tells me, “Bobby Joe, you go slap that water back on to the buildin’, start her slow and count to ten then open her up,….time to see if like Daddy use to say,’I done good'”
Guess he did, cause there weren’t no leaks and the water was plumb pouring out the faucet on the other end of the buildin’! (Oh shit I’m even begininng to sound like the plumber! Time to shut off the faucet, go get a pint of guinness, and go home and watch My Fair Lady again to learn to speak properly before going back to work tomorrw.
Just another day in paradise!

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