Johnny-on-the-Spot … by John Foster
My wife bought a new faucet assembly for our kitchen.
The box it was packaged in had the picture of a loving couple admiring their new faucet.
They obviously weren’t the ones who installed that one.
They didn’t have gunk on their faces, hands and hair or the grimaced look of a man whose back felt like he had been on “the rack”.
The new faucet came with the usual instruction booklet that said all you needed was a few simple tools and a few moments of your time.
The new faucet was practically delivering water to the sink before I could install it.
First of all, I’ve found that most instruction booklets, if you can even read them, contain lies.
It’s never “that easy”.
So, we cleaned out the kitchen cabinet and I grabbed a variety of wrenches I thought would get the job done.
The biggest struggle for me is to cram my 6’2″, 225 pound frame into a space that Harry Houdini would be nervous about.
(Why aren’t there more “dwarf plumbers”?)
However, once I’ve “limboed” into position on my back to work, everything I have to disconnect is;
a) above me
b) in a light-deficient space (at best)
c) corroded plus a spider or two
d) difficult (at best) to reach with tools
So, my able-bodied assistant (wife Geneva) has the always pleasant task of handing me the needed tools and holding the light.
You cannot unhook an old faucet without getting water on you.
That’s a given.
But I try mightily to avoid moisture on my glasses because it’s hard enough to see what I’m doing without shimmering water spots on the lenses.
The inevitable crusty gunk that collects on the underside of the faucet area sprinkles on your face and in your hair.
You wonder if one of these days you’ll see a television commercial from a law firm asking “Have you been the victim of ‘underside sink contamination?'”
Once the old unit has been disconnected and removed. there’s corrosion to clean up before you put the new faucet in place.
God bless vinegar!
A few spritzes and splashes and some gentle rubbing and the sink surface no one will ever see again (until this faucet wears out!) is shining almost as well as it did when we installed it.
The new faucet slides into place and you use the black, plastic tool provided to tighten the bolt that holds the assembly in place.
But you have to feed all the water lines through it first, remembering to put the washer and gasket in place and the hex nut.
All above your head.
In that dark place.
With limited space to work.
But that was accomplished, along with the weight on the faucet head water line.
Then it was time to attach the water lines.
When we left the store with the new faucet, I prophecised to my wife that we would be back, at least once, to buy something to complete the project.
One of the water lines was an inch too short to connect so off we went to buy a new one.
My vision into the future was correct.
I wriggle back into the kitchen cabinet to connect the water lines.
But that required my wife assisting with wrench placement so I could tighten the fittings and not unscrew things at the same time.
By the way, do folks miss the waste basket under the sink as much as we do?
Now I know why real estate open houses and virtual tours don’t include peaks behind the cabinet doors.
The true test comes when you twist open the water shut-off valves to send fluid to the new faucet.
Nary a drop!
I have a “cuss word” figure I factor in for any project before I start.
I thought this would be a five-worder.
I think I used that allotment up in the first 10 minutes of this job.
It was quite a different result the day before when my granddaughter asked me to assemble the office chair for the desk in her new apartment.
Parts were minimal, although there was at least one “blue” word when I kept dropping the Allen wrench.
They don’t call me “Coco the Gorilla” for no reason.
However, the instruction manual for this chair was a hoot.
The misspellings and bad English grammar was something to laugh about.
We handle a lot of “do-it-yourself” projects in this family but there are times I’d like to turn it over to a “handy-person” to complete.
Used to be “handyman” when I was growing up.
But writing a check isn’t as gratifying as putting away your own tools and seeing something you’ve done actually work.
That’s what I kept telling myself as water and pieces of corrosion bounced off my head while imprisoned beneath the kitchen sink.
By the way, can an octopus be trained to do plumbing?