Don't call a plumber

Have you ever called a plumber to fix a leaky water pipe in your kitchen, and when he arrived you told him not to use his tools and training to repair the problem?

Well, consider the person who did just that, telling the plumber who responded to her call for help, “I know it’s probably the worst leak you’ve ever seen. Dangerous, actually. But,” she continued with a few batts of her  mail-order eyelashes. “Can’t you just talk to my pipe? I’m sure it’ll simply fix itself if you talk nicely to it.”

Meanwhile, both she and the plumber were soaked to the gills. The steadily rising water filled the house until it finally burst through the front door. Torrents of roiling and boiling whitewater rushed down the front steps like the falls on Flat Rock Pond. Kids used metal garbage can lids as kayaks in the lawn lake. The woman’s dog somehow managed to climb onto the roof and her goldfish were jumping like dolphins in the wake trailing the trash can tops. It was outright chaos, and it all happened within a blink of an eye.

“No, ma’am,” said the plumber. “Talkin’ ain’t gonna git it done this time. I’ve already been here three times this weekend—”

“But, I love my pipes,” she said. “They’re good pipes. Please try talking to them. Just once more …”

Her tears dropped into the knee-deep pond that swirled and twirled and bubbled around her legs like a Bermuda Triangle whirlpool. The once tiny leak was then gushing like a geyser that would shame Old Faithful.

But the master of cold on the right, hot on the left, and the yucky stuff don’t run uphill, knew there’s no other way. They’d both drown if he didn’t do something. So he reached into his tool bag and came out with “Big Red,” the best 24-inch pipe wrench Sears and Roebuck had ever sold on clearance. He swallowed hard once and then turned to face the trouble.

This is what he was trained to do and he reacted without fear or hesitation. A quick side-step, a firm grasp on the valve with his left hand, a lightning fast strike with the wrench, and it was over. The chaos ceased and his adrenaline level subsided. He took a deep breath. Then …

“MY BABY!” shouted the woman. “You hurt my baby!”

Sound silly? Well, hold on a second. Police officers face similar circumstances nearly every day of their lives. People who are in danger at the hand of loved ones call 911 begging for help. They fear physical harm and/or death. They’re scared for their family members.

Sometimes they’re so distraught you can almost smell the fright over the phone lines. But, when the boys and girls in blue come sliding to a stop in the driveway, with lights winking and blinking and sirens squalling and wailing, well, this is what they often encounter, starting with the initial call for help.

“911, do you have an emergency?”

“Help me! Little Johnny has a gun and he’s been pointing it me and Jimmy Billy. Twern’t loaded at first but now it is and he done lost his what little sense he had. He ain’t taken his crazy medicine in pert’near a week. I’m skeert for our lives. And Maw ain’t here to talk to him.”

“I’m sending someone right away.”

“Good. We’s all locked in the bathroom now, ’cause that little bastard’s a shootin’ up the place. He’s teched in the haid, I tell you. Gets it from my wife’s side of the family. They’s all one seed short of makin’ a whole watermelon.”

BANG! BANG!

“Thar he goes agin. Please hurry!”

“Sir, stay on the line. Officers are on their way.”

“Yes, ma’am. Got nothin’ else to do but duck.”

Three officers arrive and they’re met by Little Petey Paul who’s made his way outside and is standing in the gravel driveway holding his father’s old revolver.

Keep in mind, though, that the Little Petey Pauls of the world never seem to be small in stature. They’re typically 6’2″, 235, foaming at the mouth, with both eyes are spinning like tops. And, of course, they’re shirtless, barefoot, and highly UN-medicated.

As always, this is the time when dear old Maw comes driving up in family pickup truck, a 4×4 with a gun rack in the rear window and a sticker on the bumper that reads, DRIVER CARRIES NO CASH, JUST A BULLET FOR YOUR ASS!

The family matriarch jumps out of the truck and tosses the remainder of her non-filtered cigarette into a pile of empty beer cans beside the plywood cutout of granny bending over in the flower garden. One officer goes to meet her, keeping her out of harm’s way.

Other officers draw their weapons and order the human anvil to drop his handgun. Instead, the human stump points the .357 at the officers. He grinning like the possum the family had for supper the night before. The lead officer starts talking.

“Please put down the gun, son. We just want to help you. Everything’s gonna be okay. I promise.”

“Don’t you hurt my baby boy!” Maw screams” He’s a good boy. Just talk to him.”

Little Petey Paul licks the barrel of the pistol, then holds it against his head. Spittle dribbles down his chin. He’s crying. His teeth clench together like the jaws of a vise.

Maw tries to push her way past the officer. “Assholes. Let me go. That’s my baby. Just talk to him. Put those guns away! You’re gonna hurt my precious little boy!”

Little Petey Paul quickly points the gun at Maw. “You bitch. Wouldn’t gimme no money for beer. I’m gonna kill you dead right here and now!”

The gun goes off.

Two shots.

BANG! BANG!

The officers have no choice. Each of them fired a couple of rounds. A second later, Little Petey Paul lies dead in the dirt and gravel with four small bullet holes marking his flesh. The officers each feel that sudden drop of adrenaline followed by the sinking, sickening, gut-wrenching sensation that comes with taking the life of another human. The second-guessing begins immediately. Their lives are forever changed, and not for the better. Possibly ruined.

“My little baby! Why didn’t you just talk to him. You didn’t have to kill him!” Maw screams, and then begins punching, kicking, and clawing at the officer’s face. The rest of the clan pours out of the house—Pa, Andy, Sandy, Randy, Candy, Tandy, Mandy, Handy, Pandy, and Earl, Jr. They’re screaming and struggling with the officers. Back up arrives to help quell the escalating disturbance.

“All you had to do is talk to the boy,” Pa says. “Maw knowed how to handle him. Talk to ’em is all you had to do … He’s such a good boy.”

I guess the point to ponder here is, well, don’t call a plumber if you don’t want your leak fixed.