Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Plumber's Dream

    Sunday I met someone who was shooting photos for a calendar on ... well, I better not say, as I plan to write about him this fall. During our conversation, I mentioned a piece I wrote about the Ridgid Tool calendar for the Reader in the late 1990s, and he surprised me by digging it up. It was back in the day when my column was spiked with some regularity, either because our standards were more constricted, or I hadn't learned to self-edit.
    This piece was written for the paper, but snagged on the phrase "Ridgid Tool." I always remember Larry Green saying to me, "It's a bad joke!" and me replying, "It's the name of the company, Larry. It's on the wrench." In my memory, I glared at him and said evenly, "You're not hurting me, Larry. I'll sell this to the Reader and they'll pay me $500. You're hurting our readers, who could read this without dying of shame." That might be a bit of bravado confabulated after the fact—it sounds too bold for me. But that's exactly what happened. The Reader ran this March 25, 1999. Ridgid Tool still makes the calendar. And I still have the wrench. 
     Bought a pipe wrench the other day. The wife was going to call the plumber. "I'm calling the plumber," she said. But I said no. It wasn't just the money. I knew what the problem was—screws, tossed down the bathroom sink drain by our 3-year-old. I knew where the screws were—the U-trap, that curved pipe under the sink. All I had to do was remove it and take out those screws before they ... did something bad. Even I could do that.
     Almost didn't buy the right tool, however. After strolling with the 3-year-old to the hardware store—behold your handiwork, O my child, the heartbreak you have wrought—I almost bought an expandable pliers. Figured that would do the job, would remove the pipe, and be more useful later for other things. For holding hot rivets, say.
     But I had second thoughts. A phrase, "the right tool for the right job," bubbled up from somewhere. From the lips of some long-dead shop teacher probably. So I bought a 14-inch pipe fitter's wrench.
     The pipe wrench—and this will seem ridiculous to those who spend significant time around pipe wrenches—struck me as a wondrous object. Big, heavy, solid. I held the wrench in my hand—all the weight at one end, where the adjustable steel teeth are—and wanted to bash somebody in the head with it, just on general principles. I felt happy, safe....
To continue reading, click here. 


  1. A pipe wrench is a terrible tool to use with those thin tubular brass pipes under a sink. It will distort the hell out of the brass compression nuts & it will leak. It should only be used as a last resort to loosen them up, never to tighten them.
    I always use a 14" Channellock or an 18" Diamond pliers for that, which is what you were going to buy in the first place.
    Plus I usually use my aluminum pipe wrenches, as they're far lighter that the iron ones.

  2. The Reader is a pale shadow of what it once was. In its glory days in the 1970s, it could be arrogant (remember that twerp Neil Tesser?) and looked to be, in the memorable phrase of a Tribune writer, edited by steam shovel. But it brought a depth of coverage and a knowledge of the city that was unmatched by any other Chicago media.

    Bitter Scribe

  3. It's great to know that this method works for you, Cat! I wish it's the same for all plumbing problem
    Kirkland Plumber

  4. What could resemble an easy decision alteration could wind up aggravating the issue, creating more harm. Tampa plumber

  5. They’re also cast as heels, allegedly crafted due to the McMahon family’s belief that the far right cost Linda the election. A tag feud between these two seems a natural fit, with Darren Young cast as the good guy.

  6. Its a great pleasure reading your post.Its full of information I am looking for and I love to post a comment that "The content of your post is awesome" Great work. Plumbing issues


Comments are vetted and posted at the discretion of the proprietor.