A Tale of Plumbing, Tubs, and Connections

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I have never been good at estimating how long it will take to do something (I’ll blame it on being an optimist), so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that our two-week bathroom remodel is in week five!

Yes, Mike and Jenny are still here. I’m going to miss so many things–Jenny’s yummy cooking, Mike’s antics, games of Five Crowns, late night chats . . .

We don’t blame Mike for the two-week estimate. He didn’t know what a mess the plumbing was in or that four of seven floor joists had been completely cut by plumbers past. In a house built sometime between the 1840s and the 1880s, we don’t know who to blame for that, but we do know who had to fix it and a whole bunch more–Mike!

Mike has been making progress, but I haven’t been sharing it with you. Pipes and electrical boxes and such aren’t that photogenic and don’t make for very good stories either. That is, unless they’re stories from the local wholesale plumbing and electrical store.

Last week Mike sent Jenny and me on a quest for plumbing parts for the old claw-footed tub. We had ordered the faucet from a big box store, but when we called back for what we needed to connect the faucets to the water supply, they were no help at all.

We headed to an old established business in Cookeville, walked through the showroom of light fixtures, and headed to the plumbing department. There we found a long counter with stools–sort of like an old soda fountain. No searching for a knowledgeable employee here–there were four behind the counter!

We told them what we wanted and the search began. When the phone rang, two youngish men suddenly started playing rock-scissors-paper. They ended up the same way the first time, but then one of them beat the other one. The loser went to answer the phone! It was hysterical–two grown men playing rock-scissors-paper to see who had to answer the phone!

Our part was not on the shelf. As one of the guys looked in a catalog to see about ordering it, another chatted with us. Somehow the fact that I am from Ashland City, Tennessee, came up. This white-haired plumbing parts expert (I’ll call him Paul) began talking about his favorite country singer Don Williams, who lives there. Since Mr. Williams once went to my parents’ church, we had lots to talk about. Another older employee has family who lives near Ashland City so he joined in to tell me names I might know.

As we talked, Paul remembered something and headed off beyond our sight. When he came back, he had in his hands exactly what we needed for the tub!

As we left the store, Jenny talked about how people here are so connected. It’s not the first “connection” conversation she has heard when she is around me. It had never struck me before but I told her that finding connections is something folks around here try to do.

A couple of days later, Mike sent us back for plumbing parts and suggested we go to the big box store. We told him, “No! We’re going back where we went before.” This time three or four other customers–all men who seemed to know what they were doing–sat on stools. Jenny and I climbed on ours. Before long our need was the topic of conversation. The man on the stool farthest away even sent us home with the name of a tub restorer–His Glory Restoration!

Again they couldn’t find what we needed behind the counter and again Paul headed toward his “hiding place.” He came back with stuff they don’t sell anymore and he and another guy pieced a part together for us.

Jenny told me this is what church should be like–just people helping each other and being fun and friendly.

Turns out we won’t need His Glory Restoration, though I would have loved to have given him my business. Jenny’s been experimenting and scrubbing until she has made the inside of that old claw-footed tub shine. Yesterday a couple of brothers who work for their cousin who owns a remodeling business (they’re all connected!) came to our house. We call on them from time to time to help us with this old house. They sanded, primed, and painted the tub’s outside.

Claw Foot Tub
Spiffy and Waiting in the Warehouse Before Heading to Its New Home

Aren’t you thankful that your children don’t spend their days in a big box school? What a blessing that they get to be at home with people with whom they share connections.

. . . through love serve one another.
For the whole Law is fulfilled
in one word, in the statement,
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatians 5:13-14




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