By Dom Cioffi
Have you ever had one of those days at work when everything goes wrong? And then, when you finally head home to recover, you get an email about work that kicks things up another notch?
I had one of those days recently. But then it got even worse.
It was around 7 p.m. I was home, reeling from the day’s bruising and preoccupied with the chaos that had ensued. I decided that I earned some “me-time,” so I meandered over to my small kitchen bar and poured myself a rare mid-week cocktail.
I then retired to the living room, took a long sip off my drink, and slouched into my favorite chair. That’s when I made the fatal flaw of looking at my cellphone, whereby I saw the aforementioned email.
After cringing at what I read, I tossed my cellphone aside, took another long sip, and stared at the wall.
And then I heard it: drip… drip… drip…
My ears perked up as I tried to discern the noise. Was it the gutter outside leaking leftover rainwater? Did I leave the kitchen sink slightly ajar? Was it the toilet?
I stood up to get a better sense of the location and determined that it was actually coming from upstairs, so I headed in that direction. My stomach tightened as I walked up each successive step; I somehow knew this was not going to be good.
The foreign sound was clear when I arrived the top of the stairs. By that point, I could tell it was water dripping onto a wet carpet (that sound is very distinct).
I rounded the corner into our spare bedroom and looked down at what appeared to be a wet splotch of the floor. Just then, a droplet splashed hard enough that I could feel it on my bare foot.
I slowly, hesitantly tilted my head skyward. My mouth fell agape when the white ceiling came into focus.
There above me was a mass of water-soaked drywall, cracked and starting to break away. My heart dropped along with my head as I realized I had a legitimate emergency on my hands.
I climbed into my attic and discovered that one of my two water heaters had broken and was leaking through the floor into the spare bedroom. I quickly looked for a solution, but nothing looked obvious to my untrained eye.
I grabbed my cellphone and did a quick Google search for “plumbing repair.” I recognized one of the more prominent names and called immediately. The woman on the other end was spectacular. She put me at ease and told me a repairman would be there within the hour.
One hour later, a young man named Tom showed up. I met him at the door, offered him a soda, and then showed him upstairs.
It took Tom less than a minute to dissect the problem. He then spent the next 10 minutes preaching to me why about putting a water heater in your attic is a bad idea. I agreed completely, while acknowledging that it wasn’t my decision; the house came that way.
Tom told me he could have it fixed in an hour, but he had to wait for the water heater to drain. He started the process and then came downstairs. We started to chat and I learned that Tom was an Army veteran with two tours of duty in Iraq.
I’m the curious type so I tend to ask a lot of questions. After 15 minutes of chatting, I had a newfound respect for my plumber, having learned about his war injuries and commitment to protecting his country and everything it stood for.
Tom turned out to be a spectacular guy with a high moral compass and an intense desire to do the right thing — all of that hiding behind a plumber’s façade. I can honestly say I was proud to meet him, partly for his character and partly for his ability to stop my guest bedroom ceiling from completely evaporating.
In this week’s feature, “The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker,” I got introduced to another young man who wasn’t exactly what he appeared to be at first glance.
Kai Lawrence was just a wandering hitchhiker in 2013 when he ran to the aid of a young woman being attacked. In a flash, he killed a man and became a hero. But then the media got hold of the story and turned Kai’s life upside down.
This is an intriguing documentary about mental health and the ills of modern media. No matter where you find yourself leaning at the end of this film, you can’t help but feel sympathy for this tortured young man.
An itinerant “B-” for “The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker,” now available for streaming on Netflix.
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at email@example.com.