Sunday, December 4, 2011


Friday it bothered the plumber that he could not get one bucket beneath two overflow pipes. I did not care, since  neither pipe has ever discharged, since I can't guess why both should discharge at once, and since in any case they have below them a concrete floor sloping gently to a drain. But the separation offended his sense of fitness.

After an experimental wiggle or two at the left, longer, pipe, he bent it up to about a 90 degree elbow at the halfway point. So bent, it cleared an intervening horizontal pipe, and he bent it back down, beside the other. The ends of the two pipes are now close enough that one bucket will serve both.

It would never have occurred to me to do something like that. Seeing him do that brought to mind the etymology of "plumber" and "plumbing", which derive from the Latin "plumbum", lead. Lead ores were widely found, lead is easily worked, and so the original pipes for plumbing were made of lead. It was only later that we discovered its unfortunate property of poisoning us slowly. Copper had its place in classical civilization, alloyed to make bronze, and as currency, but evidently one didn't make pipes of it.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure I want a plumber who manhandles my pipes like that.