Tag Archives: Plumbing

Paul Plumber

“Shit happens, goes the saying. Technically incorrect. Only a tiny amount, think cholera epidemic, does happen. Happening suggests spontaneous, fast, wild, out of control, right? Of course it does! And that’s not how people move their bowels. Paul, would you mind describing your last occasion, for the sake of helping the class understand? Paul?”

Paul’s mind rushes back from afar. Very joyfully busy picturing himself on a honeymoon with Peter, two rows ahead to the left, profile of a demigod above what must be a superb body ready to be unwrapped from too much cloth, Paul had forgotten about the rest of the world, including this bloody waste of his hard earned cash of a teacher now staring at him with expectant malice. That’s were the sound vaguely identified as relevant must have come from.  

Never lost for words, Paul goes: “Yes, sir?”.

Ending on a question mark usually does the trick. Makes cross costumers spell out. You don’t want to waste time defending the color of a toilet when they’re mad about its height. 

Color complaints, you have to show the customer his online order with the small print stating that colors look different on screen. Takes a while, and skill, to get him to blame his gadget and pay. Height issues, you only need to shrug an go “Norms and standards, need I say more?”.

“Yes, Paul?” goes the teacher, surprisingly well aware of the 101 of efficient full frontal customer interfacing. Might have been a professional, in some earlier life.

A lesser guy would panick, but not Paul. He feels himself winning. He’s good at this, all his team says so. He doesn’t hesitate to elaborate: “Yes, sir? What can I do for you?”.

The class seems to consider his question hilarious. Paul doesn’t mind. A good laugh is always nice to have. The teacher doesn’t laugh, yet, but nor does he look like getting mad. A bit tired, a tad disappointed, not mad. So far, so good.

After a short pause and with a slight raise of one eyebrow, the teacher goes:

“We were contemplating the fact, Paul, that most bowel movements don’t happen spontaneously. They are controlled. We are willing them to occur, or to refrain from occurring. Would you be so kind as to provide an example, from your own personal experience? Where and how do you usually go about your defecating business?”.

Now that’s a nice surprise of a simple task. Paul would have hated one more microbiome question. He’s getting better at naming those apparently vital lodgers of everybody’s bowels, but which of them are good and which bad still eludes him. He’s starting to suspect some of the bugs switch sides, just to make his life complicated. Much easier to tell the class about his when, where and how. Only challenge is how to impress Peter in this context.

Paul is glad to be such a natural born entertainer. A lesser guy would fail at this task, but he never runs short of anecdotes. Using his storyteller voice, Paul goes:

“Well, so glad you asked, sir. Always wondered whether it’s only me, actually. I like to take some light reading along. Depending on mood and season, I’ll vary. Today, I picked the “Biker’s Fortnight”. Fortnight as in two weeks, not as in Fort-n-i-t-e the legacy game…”

Paul was planning to go on describing pictures of a biker outing, guys all dressed up in black leather and bling, to match the chrome of their rides. With a little luck, Peter would share his esthetics, and feel attracted. In a best case scenario, he would even flash the kind of fleeting smile that Paul could use as a conversation starter on their way out.

Not at all does Paul appreciate the teacher cutting in. Instead of letting him proceed with his perfect seduction plan of a story, the brute goes:

“Exactly, Paul, thank you! ‘Legacy’, that’s the word I was aiming for. So much has changed, over the last couple of decades,  in so many aspects of life. But in some areas, we still think inside very old boxes, too lazy to challenge obsolete traditions.

Back in the days of my grandpa, when water fit for washing ourselves, or even drinking, was routinely wasted on flushing away human excrement, it made perfect sense to install defecation infrastructure in the bathroom. Nowadays, no one would dream of spoiling potable water in this way, not least because one ends up in jail faster than one can spell ‘ecovandalism’ for trying.

By the way, never ever do you guys dare fix one of the few remaining old style toilets. Yes, some rich people living in grand old houses are offering excellent cash for this kind of illicit service. Yes, they promise no one will ever find out. But, let me tell you, this never works. Over the long run, all pipes get leaky. You’ve got a better chance to get away with brewing LSD than with fixing a WC. But I’m not here to help you stay out of prison.

Getting back to the point I’m trying to make: Where do we keep installing the toilets that transform our solid waste into fertilizer, as if this was 2010 instead of 2100? We keep installing them inside  individual flats. In the bathroom, more exactly, in that very same spot where grandpa’s version was attached to the plumbing. Absolutely no reason to keep proceeding like this. 

If toilets were invented now, we’d never put them so close to our living quarters, because smells, logistics,… need I say more? Emptying urine bottles into the waste water regenerator, fine and clean, no problem. But no one wants to talk, never mind handle, shit. Much better to commute to dedicated defecation hotspots. The farmers are all in favor, too. Much easier to collect bigger volumes in one central spot than do rounds and rounds for not much.

One dedicated defecation hotspot per neighborhood, nice place, well maintained, with staff keeping things neat and orderly, that’s the modern way. Combine this with some emergency kit at home, just to be on the safe side, and the world will be a better place.

Now, I can practically hear you guys thinking ‘What’s that nonsense he’s talking? Aren’t we supposed to modernize our business and catch up on latest trends by attending this course? Modern days my ass, I’m not giving up thirty percent of my business!’ That’s what you’re thinking, of course. No need to deny it, and you’ve got a point, theoretically. In practice, you lack vision.

You guys, you’re best qualified to set up and own your local defecation hotspots. You go infrastructure and services, guys, and you make serious money. Don’t let some know nothing suits get ahead of you. You’re the experts, you’re best placed to do this…”.

Paul’s mind drifts off once again. He’ll propose to Peter, half jokingly, to hedge his bets, right after class. Not for marriage, of course not. He doesn’t even know for sure that Peter is gay yet. He’ll propose a defecation hotspot partnership. The paperwork is bound to be heavy, the investment to build such premises will be huge, much better to join forces. And later, who knows?

If all goes well, including a police siren approaching fast being meant for someone else, not related to that broken pipe he shouldn’t have touched, even though he really needed that cash, Paul might get himself rich and happily married in one smart move.

Shit Happens

„Tap water? Never no way. You‘re kidding, right?“

Liam has to ask, because honestly. And he has to look up at his boss to check if Joshua is once again trying and failing to make a joke. The senile sucker considers himself funny. It’s a total misperception, an insult to anyone with a real sense of humor.

That’s one of the problems, with anyone past forty. Old guys laugh for no good reason, and don’t where they should. They basically ruin any ambiance by their mere presence.

Liam doesn‘t hate his job more than the next hard working bloke, but he could so do without Joshua. The company should pay a hardship bonus, to all operators forced to work alongside old guys. The union should fight for a couple more bucks for such cases. Except the union guy is even older than Joshua. Life, always piling up the odds against Liam and his kin…

Joshua makes his Morgan-Freeman-plays-God face and goes:

„Hey, keep it up kiddo, didn‘t hear myself calling a break. Why not behave like an adult, for once, and keep working while you talk? This ognitransmuter won‘t install itself.

And yes, oh yes, tap water. And not talking some cheap grey variant here. Full bloody potable tap water, as in real fit for drinking, no kidding. Tap water was all over the place, in those days, for all kinds of purposes. Right until 2026. The stuff was so cheap, in the early twenties, that people took what was called showers. Now let me tell you about showers…“

Liam has obediently resumed assembling the ognitransmuter. He’s performing every move extra slowly because Joshua calls slow diligent and considers it a virtue. That’s because he’s such a snail, mentally and physically. It’s his weight, he’s so fat, in combination with his age. Joshua is to power and speed what emptying an ognitransmuter tank is to fun and roses.

Liam doesn‘t need Joshua to find out about showers. The wasteful rituals of the forebears did feature at school, at more length than any kid should be made to endure. Artificial indoor waterfalls, to not really clean your two square meters of skin, that‘s showers. Even assuming best grey water capture practices, people were bound to loose at least the equivalent of growing one plate of beans, per go. That‘s a life and death difference.

Liam knows such stuff. He has done more than his share of water conservation awareness calculations. Back in his schools days, when he was still a kid. He doesn’t need some oldie and his half educated waffling. Joshua‘s generation, they learned basically nothing. They go blank, on the most basic basics, like sandstorm survival skills. 

Last week, Joshua was off sick for two days. Went out without protective goggles, despite his implant beeping imminent sandstorm alert. The blunder nearly cost him his eyes, and getting oneself that kind of transplant grown costs a fortune. He claimed he had misinterpreted the alert. But no one mistakes a sandstorm alert for a heatwave warning. That’s so basic basics, impossible to get wrong. Unless you’re a total dimwit. The last thing anyone needs is being lectured by a total dimwit.

Not listening to Joshua  is the thing to do. Liam needs to switch his mind to something worth processing, like pre-2026 entertainment.

The barbarian past managed to come up with some cool viewfare. Most of it is 2D. The plots are weird. The casts are even weirder, with a totally unrealistic abundance of all shades of white people, and in major roles, too. The outfits are madness, often short sleeved, full get-me-my-melanomas-at-thirty risk, and what is called gendered, one of the more creepy legacy practices. In some plots, you get familiar sounding names, but the locations look unlike anyplace in present day Calixico. It‘s all one big mess, the creepy kind of. But classy, in its own weird way. Couple of pre-2026 movies, a round of tongue balm strips, that’s the best way to spend a good night awake among friends.

Liam fades Joshua‘s voice into the background. Keeping his eyes on the half assembled ognitransmuter, he lets his mind wander. What did it feel like, to live in a world of bikes and roads, where muscle shirts and bikinis were worn ex habitat? How cool must it have been, to have a fight among blokes without getting into trouble? No implants, no civility monitors, no policing drones… Liam is no longer aware of Joshua‘s presence.

„… and so, on my honor as a plumber, trained, tested, certified and accredited, because me, I learned a proper trade, not just how to execute bloody implant fucking instructions, yes, there was even worse waste than the water toilet. Hard to believe nowadays, but I myself installed a full acre, as in four thousand square meters, of sprinkler plumbing, to water a lawn that wasn’t used for anything but golf putting practice. Did it with these same hands, on my honor. These same hands, just that they were a little less spotty, back in those days…“

Liam so struggles to keep his mind in his favourite scene from Torque. He’s Ice Cube, and going for it. Why can‘t Joshua shut up and get himself his own daydream? With water toilets or whatever other lurid granny tales he fancies. This is so lame.

Liam forces his inner self back onto the bike, full speed, full risk. Doing it here isn‘t the same as playing the Torque-themed immersion game. One absolutely needs a gaming scaphander and chair to properly experience the speed and thrust. But he‘s having as much fun as one can have, at work.

Liam is about to win his race when Joshua dares intrude once again, in his booming boss voice, just like president LL Cool J going tough commander in chief on food racketeers and soil hoarders:

„What the hell, kiddo?! That’s the wrong way round, the fan, in the vent. You don’t want to pump up the container, you want to drive out the gases! Out, kiddo, out, as in not in. Honestly, kiddo, you got to learn to use your head, in our job, or you’ll end up in a call center trouble shooting bot botches.“

In response, Liam quickly draws a deep breath and holds it, to reassure his implant. With the new violence prevention settings, the slightest hint of being about to act on an aggressive impulse gets one tasered. You need a martial arts cage, a sports arena or a hacker to get the chance to fight it out. This is supposed to be the latest in civilisation. Currently, his every fiber begs to differ.

He might have been daydreaming, but he of course followed the implant instructions step by correct step. The fan is installed exactly as it should be. With the new model, air gets pumped in as often and as long as excess current is available. Airing the organic matter in this way drives what causes the smell into the filter, where it gets neutered. This clever trick allows you to install an ognitransmuter pretty much anywhere, no need to fear olfactory inconvenience. Everybody has smelled the ads. Even someone as hopeless as Joshua should know.

Liam is starting to feel the strain but keeps holding his breath, he‘s so mad. And Joshua to go:

„Hey, kiddo, no need to turn all sweaty face. Everybody makes the odd mistake, occasionally. No drama. Shit happens. You make amends, fix the mess, and that’s it. Shit happens. Otherwise, how would we fill the ognitransmuter…“

The worst about Joshua is his being funny illusion. Oh yes, shit does happen. Any young person stuck with an old boss doesn’t need no reminder.

Happy New Year

„Jimiyu? Jimiyu, are you listening? Pod 3, Jimiyu, Code Grey. And hurry up…”

Jimiyu clenches his teeth hard, to refrain himself from saying it aloud, the big bad four letter world he’s thinking.. 

‘Hurry up’, he has so had it with ‘hurry up’. For tonight. For this year. Forever. Jimiyu longs to go mean on the caller, but that would be wrong. She sucks, but it’s not her fault.

The voice reaching out to him over his earpiece, one more Kibibi or Sabiti or whatever this particular girl is called, she’s a mere messenger. It’s her bad bloody operator job to drive him hard, to do his bad bloody maintenance job. Impossible schedule not her fault.

Jimiyu confirms Code Grey for Pod 3, in as level a voice as he can muster, and puts on his gloves. He’s not going to wipe up vomit without gloves.

Godforbiddenly rich, the customers celebrating the New Year on the space elevator. You’d think there’d be the odd coin available, to spare on a literacy course. You don’t need Shakespearean levels of reading proficiency, to decipher the wording on the barf bags.

The space elevator pods feature an ample supply of basic malaise appliances for a reason.

The ‘space’ in ‘space elevator’ means exactly that, ‘very, very far up’. Getting there involves a substantial amount of horizontal acceleration. Combined with some swaying, because hey, who’d have guessed, there’s wind, between ground and space. First time riders tend to experience a little discomfort. Combined with shrimps and champagne, things can go wrong way.

Bracing himself for the nauseating smell associated with a Code Grey, Jimiyu grabs his high-pressure cleaner and gets ready for action.

Some clonking one level up signals Pod 3 has reached the space elevator base station. It’s followed by the hissing of the pressurized door. The filthy rich idiots take a while to get going, thereby worsening Jimiyu’s time constraints, but finally laughter and stomping signal the party is leaving. The access corridor  shutter clatters close and the pod moves down to the maintenance floor where Jimiyu springs into action. 

This Code Grey is mostly red. Someone has been drinking red wine instead of champagne. But at least it’s mercifully localized, only affecting the corner next to the tiny sanitary cubicle.

Not hard for Jimiyu to guess what happened. Another vomiter must have reached the loo first, leaving the red wine idiot short of choices. HighFly Inc really should hand each customer his barf bag, or better make that two or three, to avoid this kind of embarrassment. But they don’t want to advertise, how bad the pods roll.

Twenty-four seconds, pretty good for a Code Grey. It was an easy one, but Jimiyu is still proud. 

His is private pride, because steam cleaning a space elevator pod fast is not the feat his mom likes him to brag about, at family events.

When people ask  “And how’s the literature rolling, these days, your books selling well?” you better don’t answer “Doing OK, my writing nearly pays the food. And for the rest, I’ve got my neat minimum wage gigs at the space elevator. Lots of hours, in the holiday season.”

Jimiyu only went down that road once. He ended up having to admit he was performing manual labor wearing blue workwear, and that maintenance meant cleaning. His mom shunned him for two weeks, and he hadn’t even mentioned body fluids and smells. Much better to keep quiet about proud moments like this one, and pretend exploding book sales.

There’s a risk to alert the ubiquitously listening tax people, but having to deal with those is far easier than handling an angry mom.

Four more hours to go, until it’s 2069 all over the planet. Once the Hawaians are done, his shift will be over and he‘ll get the chance to call his Nankunda, to wish her a belated Happy New Year.

Jimiyu’s girlfriend doesn’t mind his odd hours. She’s working, too, catering to a big party in a fancy venue.

The event features a live gig by a living legend of a pop star. She got flown in all the way from Korea, just for this one New Year celebration. Astronomical sums involved, long distance air travel costs a hectare of reforestation per mile. Rich people, they never tire of coming up with novel ways to waste tons of money.

Nankunda is no trained caterer. Carrying around trays of bubbly was not what she was aiming for, when she studied archaeology. But it fits in nicely, with her hours as a primary school teacher, and one has to make ends meet.

Their minimum wage gigs at odd hours are the price to pay for not living at Jimiyu’s parents house. You don’t rent a flat  in one of the most fancy locations this planet has on offer on one salary and a few book sales.

Kampala is in boomtown mode, and not just because of the space elevator. That’s merely the fun ride side of the operation. Excellent for tourism, obviously, and not just during the holiday season, but not the big money spinner.

The far less glamorous, unmanned space links bringing out what is called climate mitigation nets, to make the contraptions sound less chemical, those are Kampala’s cash cows. Three already in operation, one under construction and two more at an advanced planning stage, the climate rush is in full swing.

Jimiyu and Nankunda are lucky, to have been born in this most fancy of equatorial locations. Nothing beats Kampala these days, not even Quito comes close. 

Jimiyu sighs. He has heard this mantra ever since preschool: “We’re lucky, we’re equatorial, best place in the world to have been born. Enjoy your luck and strive, boy. Billions of people would give their right arm for right of residence in Kampala.”

Jimiyu keeps hearing this. His brain understands what people mean to tell him. They have a point, sure. He’s trying to get into that mood. But there’s no paradise feel to his life.

“Jimiyu? Jimiyu? Code Red, Jimiyu! Pod 5, Code red. Code Red, Jimiyu!”

The voice of the operator is a anguished as it should be. ‘Code Red’ stands for blood. Someone got seriously hurt. Jimiyu quickly confirms, before dressing up.

He’s going for the full program this time. White coverall overall, face mask, two pairs of gloves.

Code Red can get very messy. Like when his colleague Ocan got what was left of that stupid paranoid bomber. Brought along some explosives, despite all the fancy hazard detection hardware, and blew himself up at the top of the ride. The pressurized pod held tight, confirming the outstanding resilience of its design, but the passengers were reduced to…

Jimiyu quickly stops recalling Ocan’s tale, because he can’t use the barf bag he doesn’t have at hand wearing a face mask.

Hearing the sounds of the arriving pod overhead, he very much hopes his Code Red not to be a bomb. „Please, fate, make that a broken champagne bottle and a few cuts“ is all he can think right now. And he’s not feeling lucky at all, once again.

Side Effects

And one more sanitary pad at the bottom of the trouble.

For lack of an obvious perpetrator, Ade silently throws a big fat curse at the white tiles of the bathroom wall. If only all ladies would learn how to safely dispose of their hygiene products, his professional life would be oh so much more pleasant.

Such a change in female behavior would also help with the chronic backlog. With so many emergency calls, at least half of them blockages, they’re forever rescheduling the installation of new sanitary equipment.

Concerning routine maintenance, the office no longer bothers to answer inquiries. As the saying goes „If you dream of getting hold of a plumber for non-emergency maintenance, why not reach right for the stars and jump onto the elective knee surgery queue?“.

It’s obvious that too little routine maintenance caused by the shortage of skilled professionals leads to additional premature degradation, and that this in turn causes yet more emergency calls keeping the precious few plumbers too busy. Vicious, but that’s how the system works. Well established dysfunction as usual.

Taking his time with the mess, his little revenge for the unpleasantness, Ade lets his brain argue the case of the ladies, like a lawyer would.

A perpetratoress could pretend to have acted out of charitable motives. Cleaning up her mess might be disgusting, but less backlog would lead to less plumigration.

Taking the argument one step further, disposing of sanitary pads into the dedicated bins would have to be considered applied racism. Ade’s inner lawyer rejoices. Only a legally trained mind can come up with this kind of obvious bullshit.

Ade’s own residential status is of course as secure as naturalization gets. Less plumigration wouldn’t affect him. But a responsible chap has to consider the potential for unintended consequences. One can’t ruin the immigration prospects of one’s peers. Less desperate house owners might lead to less visa. Currently any potential immigrant willing to learn the plumbing trade is begged to come. But if circumstances change, who knows?

Conditions might even revert to bad old first stage plumigration, as experienced by Ade’s uncle Iffe. When he got himself recruited, he had to provide a certificate confirming his plumbing skills. He dutifully paid a little fee that delivered a shiny diploma from a supposedly licensed academy. He still had no clue, but this diploma did the trick.

Being a clever and dexterous man, uncle Iffe learned his trade on the job. All went well, until an explosion he might or might not have caused. Neither himself nor anyone else did suffer bodily harm, but he remains severely traumatized. Has been scared of gas installations ever since. Won’t touch any of the beasts unless a locally trained specialist is present. Poor man, his income took a serious hit. Never will he manage to pay off that mortgage.

No such hardship for Ade. By the time he was done with university and ready to face the shit, the prerequisites of uncle Iffe’s days were long gone. No one dared ask him for a plumbing diploma, real or fake. He only needed to enter one of the shops on Migration Alley. One step turned an able bodied law graduate into a plumbing apprentice.

No questions asked, all visa and travel expenses paid, passable accommodation provided, and a nice little welcome handout on top. Compared to the trials inflicted on uncle Iffe’s generation, current plumigration is paradise. Kind of. If you don’t mind the shit.

On the plane, Ade met Taya, a lady of similar background and age. The onset of the solar era and the corresponding petrol and mining industry crisis had forced her to abandon her dream to find a job as a geologist. She was instead headed for a career in nursing, or senior shit, as she chose to call her future occupation, rather bluntly.

Noticing how they were both destined to handle excrements, Ade and Taya experienced fellowship in adversity. Eight hours of flight was more than enough to get them liaised. Their initial bond turned into assiduous dating. This in turn culminated in a in a big brash wedding, once they had both completed their apprenticeships and acquired their second passports.

„How much longer is this going to take? Would never dream of pushing, but I will need…, to go…, you know? Preferably sooner than later… ?“ This particular old lady whimpering on the other side of a bathroom door Ade has shut to labor in peace can’t be at fault. She’s way too old to be the originator of the mess. Must have been some visiting kid who didn’t dare leave traces of her current physical condition in the bin. Stupid little bitch.

Aloud, Ade goes polite: „As good as done, madam. Just give me one more minute, and the bathroom will be all yours again…“.

He flushes one more time, to suggest completion of whatever activity he didn’t perform during the last ten minutes, and checks his phone while waiting for the end of the torrent.

He finds a message: „Will be going straight to an additional girls meeting, urgent issue. Might get late, please don’t wait. Kisses, Taya.“

Texting back a full line of kisses, Ade feels all empowered and cheerful.

This is perfect timing. He had been wondering how to get himself a marital evening bliss exemption, to join some of the other plumigration lads to watch tonight’s Champion’s League game at the pub. And now it’s his lady going out. Perfectly perfect.

Having a glass with the other nurses will hopefully switch Taya’s attitude back to bright.

Ade’s wife has been tense, lately. Forever ranting about injustice, stress, politics even. How it’s not fair, to only allow immigrants in to clean up behind the legacy residents and deny them access to proper jobs, regardless of qualifications.

Ade won’t deny that’s how things are. But endless complaining is going to change exactly dick, right? Why ruin your mood about circumstances beyond your control?

Deep in his heart, Ade of course feels that little glimmer of glee, when the news report one more house blown up by the „One World Avengers“. The blokes do have a point. But that’s not a subject he’s prepared to discuss with his wife. That’s men talk.

The terrorists always make sure the owners of the houses they target are absent, typically holidaying abroad. Hence no one gets harmed. Theirs is soft terrorism. But it must still be deeply unpleasant to check your home CCTV feed only to find out the place is gone, just because some blokes hate the current world order.

As a professional, Ade kind of respects the „One World Avengers“. Tough guys, really good at blasts. Always using gas, often the very cylinders he’s handling day in, day out. Who knows, they might perhaps even share his trade. He wouldn’t e surprised to learn some fellow plumigration practitioners are telling the world how much they hate the daily shit.

Having pocketed a nice surprise of a generous tip, Ade trots back to his white van, slowly. If he takes long enough loading and replenishing his emergency intervention kit, he can just make it into the lunch break time zone. 

Opening the side door, the empty slot on the rack on the opposite side reminds him to report that last stolen gas cylinder missing. He’s had enough of the mischief that has been going on for months. Some lazy colleague takes his supplies from Ade’s van, instead of going though the formal request process. Lazy idiot. Time to teach him a lesson.