But, you're just a plumber...

Defending the Plumber

I sat across from him and listened intently, my blood began to boil.

“How would you know? You’re just a plumber who plays with sewerage all day!” said the kind gentleman, after I offered some input to a technical problem on site.

It has been said that a real warrior is one who can exercise self-control. It is safe to say that on that day, I was the greatest warrior the world had ever seen. Instead of climbing over the table and throttling the kind gentleman, I exercised extreme self-control and remained firmly fixed to my chair. My mind on the other hand was working overtime. Flashes of me taking flight over the table and wrestling the kind gentleman to the floor ran through my mind frame by frame as my imagination ran riot. Let’s just say that in my short daydream, it didn’t end well for him.  

After leaving the presence of the kind gentleman, who remained unharmed, it got me thinking: Why would he say such a thing?  Does he really believe a plumber’s day is spent in the company of raw sewerage? Does who honestly believe that plumbers are unable to contribute to society in a meaningful way?

After some pondering I came to following conclusion: In the case of the kind gentleman and his “brilliantly” thought out words, there is a clear difference between his perception of what “just a plumber” does, and the reality of what a plumber actually does. You see, the kind gentleman’s perception is that all a plumber does is play with sewerage all day for a living. While handling sewerage is indeed something that falls under a plumber’s scope of work or expertise, it’s certainly not how we spend our days.

The reality of what a plumber is and does, and the kind gentleman’s narrow-minded perception are worlds apart.

What the kind gentleman fails to see, is how important “just a plumber” actually is. He is blindly unaware that “just plumbers” are responsible for the installation and maintenance of the systems that deliver clean water and remove waste resulting in the protection of countless people from communicable disease. There is acknowledgement from many within the public health community that clean, drinkable water has most likely protected more lives and extended life expectancy more than any medical advancement.

I challenge anyone to live without water and drainage for 24 hours. Turn off the main water supply to your home or office and you will quickly find out how important having water to your taps and toilets really is.

So next time you turn on your tap and fresh water magically appears, recognize who was responsible for delivering that simple convenience to you that is oftentimes taken for granted. When you flush your toilet and everything vanishes in front of your eyes, a plumber made it happen. When you are next enjoying that hot revitalizing shower or bath, recognize that it was the “just a plumber” who made that pleasurable experience possible.

In the words of the late American-born actor, Spencer Tracy: “Acting is not an important job in the scheme of things. Plumbing is!”

As plumbers, what we do really does matter.

Long live “Just A Plumber”

Dean Cane