Sam the Plumber

Day 3 of no hot water.  Last night I carried a stockpot full of boiling water upstairs so I could bathe in 3 inches of water.  Our shower is broken and the repair ended up being a bit extensive.  I don’t understand what happened because I don’t understand plumbing but also because there is a bit of a language barrier.  Sam the plumber is from Egypt.

The first time I met Sam was some time in my final weeks of drinking.   I don’t remember what the plumbing issue was, but I do remember that it was abnormally cold here in Southern California.  Sam was having to cut into the side of the house for a repair.  At one point he had to wait for something to dry and asked if he could wait inside since it was so cold.  Of course, of course.  I remember having this plumber sitting in my family room and feeling like I wanted to jump out of my skin.

I decided to make some tea to warm up.  It occurred to me that the nice thing would be to offer some to Sam.  I did and was pissed off when he accepted.  I sat there drinking tea with Sam the plumber from Egypt and hating every second of it.  I became painfully aware of how uncomfortable I was to have to sit with this lovely man who was there to help me.

He seemed really happy for a plumber.  He sends money back to his extended family in Egypt.  He takes classes at the nearby state university.  He speaks really highly of his wife.  He is very involved in his church.  I totally fucking hate him.  I don’t understand what is wrong with me.  What is wrong with me?  Why do I hate Sam the friendly plumber?  Why am I so uncomfortable?  Why does he seem perfectly happy to sit here drinking tea with a total stranger?  That’s weird.  Yeah, Sam seems totally weird.  What if he murders me?

Weeks later when I got to the rooms of AA and first heard the phrase “fear of people,” I felt fireworks go off in my brain.  YES!  Fear of people!  That’s it!!!  I had never heard it put so literally.  I just thought people annoyed me.  It never occurred to me that I was flat-out afraid.  And afraid of what?  I couldn’t even make eye contact with the checker at Trader Joe’s.  I think part of it is that I was so self-absorbed that I didn’t want anyone to notice that I didn’t give a shit about them.  Dear God what if they WANTED something from me?  I was so relieved to find out that this was alcoholism.  I thought I was simply broken.

Sam had everything up and running by the time he left today.  Just before he went he asked if I could please pass along his info to anyone who might need a plumber, so it turns out that he did want something.  I hope I get the chance to refer him.

3 thoughts on “Sam the Plumber

  1. I don’t know quite why but this post is very powerful. Well written, brutally honset and terribly sad. I’m so happy for you that you are sober today and if I lived in Southern California I would get Sam round for my next plumbing job xxxx

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