I enjoy a certain lifestyle that women who didn’t marry a plumber can’t even imagine. Certainly, there are other family members—husbands, partners, kids—who could relate to this experience, and probably even add to it.
However, as a plumber’s wife, I started a Facebook group called The Plumbers’ Wives Club,* (https://bit.ly/2lEGOfC) where I have shared a few examples from my own experience. Then, I asked other wives** to complete the following sentence: You know you are a plumber’s wife when …
Here’s what we came up with:
… you have not parked your car in your garage for 17 years because it’s full of tools and parts.
… after a nasty drain call, you make him strip down in the garage and dump his clothes in the washer before he even thinks about coming inside.
… he collects, and creates, radiators.
… on his phone, he has as many pictures of tools, trucks, and projects as he has of the kids.
… he dresses the baby up as her daddy for Halloween and they go trick-or-treating together.
When this happens…
… you use male and female adapters to teach your kids about the “birds and the bees.”
… at a party, someone asks him about solar panels and the party moves to the roof.
… you are still on the roof two hours later because the partygoer didn’t know there is a difference between thermal and PV.
… you are renovating, and this is his idea for railings: Pipe!
… you receive homemade presents for all gift-giving occasions. A wind chime made from quarter-inch steel. A wedding band fashioned from a brass fitting. Or these two…
… you 100 percent love these gifts more than any others you’ve ever received.
…when you get that feeling in your gut when you know he is on a roof, or in a trench, or working on a powerhouse. Then he comes and acts like it’s nothing.
… you have ever answered the phone at 3 a.m. because you are up feeding the baby and booked a furnace repair call and then also upsold to a service agreement.
… he still carries one of his grandad’s toolboxes.
… you have other women thanking you for letting them borrow your husband.
… your kid shows you a broken anything, and tells you, “Dad says he can’t fix it,” and you send him back to his father because that is a lie.
… your children think “ball-cock” and “nipples” are just normal, everyday words to throw around in conversation.
… you have ever seen him chuckling at a plastic pipe sticking out of the roof of a building, with no explanation.
… when the 500th person tags you in a Facebook photo of the plumbing van with the guy sitting over the painted toilet on the door …or, the T-shirt that has allows him to add “cleavage” to the woman’s picture on the back …or, yet another plunger-wielding-butt-crack-showing-plumber-on-a-birthday card.
… you are staying up late, helping with paperwork, because you must, and he hates it.
… your kids love going on a “ride along”.
… your newborn has gone on a service call, in a Baby Bjorn, before 4 months in age.
… you find this on his workbench…and are told, “Leave that. It’s for a project.”
… you are suspicious of anyone who suddenly wants to “be friends” and “have you over for dinner,” and you feel you must casually ask them if they are having plumbing issues before committing.
… you hear, “Got a sec?” and then find yourself on the heavy end of a water heater, loading it into the truck, and dropping it off on the job 50 miles away.
… you’ve ever been offered a spoonful of Bio-One with the encouraging words, “Eat it! You won’t die.”
… he walks in the door, dipped in mud or something worse, holding a 2-foot in diameter blob of something disgusting. And, when you ask him, “What is that?” and he answers, “What is what?”
… your neighbor calls, asks for him, gets you, and assumes you know everything he does about disposers and kitchen drains.
… your tub drain never clogs because your husband knows how much hair you have and cables the line “on the reg.”
… you have ever tried to “help” by unspooling 200 feet of PEX and it’s the closest you have ever come to divorce.
… he has never been to a family member’s home without being asked to look at something weird or smell something awful.
… you overhear him tell your cousin Eddie that yes, he knows how to turn up the set point temperature of a water heater, and no, for safety reasons, he’s not going to do it.
… “dress up” means dayglo or camo. Often together.
… you went to the neighborhood picnic, and an older woman hugged your husband really hard, and thanked him, because her husband died recently, and she couldn’t shovel her drive, and yours did, for two snowy weeks, every morning. And this is the first you’ve heard about it.
… your husband travels with his own showerhead and a crescent wrench.
… you’ve seen your child sporting duct tape where a band-aid should be.
… you miss him so much sometimes it hurts, but you know he is finally doing something he loves and working so hard for your family. And that he is so good at what he does that you can’t help but be proud and happy for him. You listen intently about this job and that job, loving him more at the same time. You see that spark in his eye, that a little part of you hopes still shines for you sometimes like that, lol. Knowing all at the same time what a great man he is.
In the end, you know you are a plumber’s wife because you know that if the bomb dropped, or the tornado descended, or the earth shook, you know that you and your kids would be all right. Somehow, he would make a shelter, get water, and create warmth for you, and probably most of the neighborhood. And you know this as sure as you know anything to be true.
*If I had been more forward thinking, I would have named this group the Plumbers’ Partners or Spouses Club. Alas, I wasn’t. My apologies for being archaic, and not as inclusive as I should have been.
**Thanks to the Plumbers’ Wives! I left these anonymous and only shared pics with permission. Partners, spouses, significant others, better and bigger halves are welcome to join us on Facebook at https://bit.ly/2lEGOfC.