“There’s water pouring through the kitchen ceiling,” screamed my wife. Our son was taking a shower upstairs and unbeknownst to him, the kitchen was getting soaked.
It was time to call the plumber.
Thankfully, our plumber was just finishing up a job nearby and he was able to come to our home within two hours. He has been maintaining our plumbing for almost twenty years. My wife loves this guy. She brags about having the best bathroom in the region.
“I need to break the kitchen ceiling, ” he said. Thankfully, my wife trusts him. He carefully laid drop clothes to minimize ceiling fragment messiness. Then he got straight to work on the ceiling demolition.
After a minute of probing around up there he looked confused.
Live and Learn
“Are you using drain cleaner upstairs?”, he asked. My reply to the negative resulted in his quizzical look. “Something has eaten right through this pipe,” he said, “and I’m not sure what is causing the corrosion.” He installed all those pipes almost twenty years ago and something very corrosive had eaten through the copper.
After removing the corroded pipe, he showed me what was inside. It didn’t look good.
The powder cleanser that we use to clean the upstairs bathtub had accumulated inside the drain pipe and likely caused the corrosion.
Clearly, the cleanser had not fully dissolved. The watery cleanser became gluey and stuck to the pipe’s inside.
This plumbing issue was a learning encounter for all involved. And isn’t this how lessons are learned in the real world?
It is through experiences like this that young workers gain valuable insight which can be put to good use when resolving future similar problems. Building a memorable database of root causes and possible solutions results in personal mastery. And this is why mentors are so important in guiding future trade professionals.
The sad news is that our plumber is my age (60) and he’ll be retiring within the next ten years. He’s a baby boomer like me. He may not be around to share this lesson with the future workforce.
78 million baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964 and most will be retired by the year 2020. It is estimated that there will be only 45 million people to replace retiring baby boomers. I bet the trades will receive a disproportionately small ratio of the 45 million replacements.
There is a critical need for both new workers and mentors to share life’s wisdom and practical solutions to everyday problems. Mentoring has been a hot topic for me recently and you can bet that I will be sharing more mentoring anecdotes in future articles and blogs.
My wife is glad that the plumbing problem is resolved. She never doubted our plumber’s ability – this guy can do no wrong in our home.
It’s funny how seasoned tradesmen learn how to endear themselves to residential customers. Our plumber has mastered the soft skills of both finesse and technical ability.
On the dark side, however, my wife is not too thrilled about the kitchen ceiling.
Oh well, time to call the general contractor. I think he’s my age too.