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Beth Underwood: Peaceful, quiet morning routine descends into unknown territory of plumbing repairs


I love getting up early to enjoy the peace and quiet of the predawn hours. Just me, alone with my thoughts, while the world around me sleeps. Well except for the cat, who impatiently meows for food from the moment he hears me exit my bedroom. Once he’s taken care of, though, I can settle into my favorite chair with pen, paper and coffee at the ready and enjoy an hour or so of serenity.

It’s so quiet that the slightest noise can disrupt everything. And the slow drip that caught my attention last week might as well have been a semi-truck coming through the living room.

At first, I figured Colton hadn’t shut off a sink handle entirely. Since the dripping noise was consistently slow — and likely not audible with a TV or radio on — I figured I could check it out after completing my morning writing routine. The drip was annoying for sure, but the thought of getting up and blowing my quiet time was more annoying.

Except for the longer I heard it drip, the more irritated I became. It took all of 23 seconds for me to throw up my hands in frustration and head off in search of the drip.

As suspected, the noise was coming from Colton’s bathroom. But it wasn’t coming from the sink. It was coming from the tub. I worked the large turn dial back and forth, hoping it just needed to be tightened. No dice. I pulled the shower knob about halfway up, thinking maybe that would help. Instead, it sent the drip to the shower head.

I felt like Tom Hanks in Apollo 13: Houston, we have a problem.

At this point, I should probably explain that home repairs are not my forte. In fact, they’re not even in my wheel well of things I like to talk about. First, my eyes glaze over. Second, I change the subject.

Realizing there was nothing that could be done immediately, I shut the bathroom door and went about my morning routine. After dropping Colton at school, I headed to a home improvement store to look for replacement parts and inquire as to this repair’s degree of difficulty. I’d have them break it down for me in terms I could understand — ice skating terms, for example. Would fixing the drip be upright spin difficult? Or triple loop, double lutz with a twist difficult?

“Well,” said the employee, “the first time will be the toughest. After that, it’ll be easy.”

Thanks for your input, o-wise-one.

After quizzing me on the shower specifics, he handed me a small package that contained everything I needed to complete the job.

“Just take your time,” he said. “Once you get in there, you’ll see a dome-shaped cover. It should come off pretty easy, especially if you hit it with some WD-40.

Now he was speaking my language. I know a little about WD-40, I thought to myself. I even own a can of it.

“Don’t try to force it, though.”

Somebody from about ten feet away chimed in, too, “that’s right, don’t force it, whatever you do.”

I had no idea where this third party had come from or how long he’d been listening. But since both men were telling me the same thing, I was confident that I was getting good information — and that I could pull off the repair on my own. With parts in hand, I thanked them and headed toward the cash registers.

“Check the YouTubes videos,” they said in agreement. “They’ll show you exactly what to do. All you need is some WD-40 and a pair of channel locks.”

Um… Can someone please tell me what channel locks are?

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Beth Underwood is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines. She shares stories of everyday life that entertain, inspire, and encourage others. Her books include Gravity, a narrative nonfiction account of a small group of Tennessee National Guardsmen, and Talk Bourbon to Me, a lighthearted look at Kentucky’s native spirit. Drop her a line at beth@bethwrightunderwood.com, or visit her website at bethwrightunderwood.com.


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