Monday, February 27, 2012

The Proof is in the Coffee

Like duct tape, Coffee, it seems, can cure anything. 

            Some times the simplest of tasks can cause the biggest frustrations.  We can have done something over and over, but for some reason, the tried and true method is bollixed by a flurry of miscues that makes you think the world is conspiring to ruin the result.
            This week it was a sink fixture that should have completed the shortlist for a renovation and allowed my friend to move into his new apartment.  What had begun as a simple concept for a short term transition between leaving one home and ending in another soon to be built had become stressful with complications. 

            My friend was impatient and unsettled, past ready to be free of the dust and unpacked, comfortable before his treasured 52" HDTV.  The clutter of construction within earshot of his business was distracting while the boxes of books awaiting distribution on newly painted shelves and bed requiring assembly was disorienting.  He desperately needed the kitchen sink to work to fix himself some calming tea.
            No problem, I assured him and set to work on the heavy cast-iron enameled monstrosity, purchased by my friend as a great deal from an architectural salvage warehouse, and the top-of-the-line famous name brand faucet to match from a box store chain.
            I attached the faucet, sprayer and double drains in good time, applied the caulk and laid the behemoth into the newly cut hole in the fresh countertop.  It was a struggle to align the two drains with the redirected main, but a little creativity accomplished the effort and all seemed to fit perfectly.  
            When I turned it on to test, however, the trickle of drops was disappointing (to say the least). While there was plenty of pressure in the pipes and had been to the previous sink, this flow of water would never wash a crumb from a plate.
            My friend, seeing both his job and personal life in chaos became more distressed and adamant that the fix must be quickly found, and in his upset, implied a threat to the very friendship itself.
            The name brand customer service was exemplary and over-nighted the only parts that could possibly be a problem.  In an hour, I took apart the sink, replaced the parts, the caulk and reset the weighty cast-iron kerthunk into its hole.  The flow was no better, however, and this time the drain dripped into the cabinet.
            To go through the entire process yet again, we decided not to risk the unlikely possibility that the flaw was in the design, so my friend went back to choose a much more standard faucet.  I took it all apart again, re-puttied the drains, secured the new faucet with separate sprayer, cleaned and reapplied the caulk, heaved the sink back into place and crossed my fingers.
            At least the pressure in the flow was much more acceptable, but now there was a leak in the same diverter to the sprayer as seemed to be the problem in the first faucet.  Cleaning and re-inserting the connection several times made no difference.  It seemed to be another faulty part, another faulty faucet from a different top-name brand and a different box store.

            What for so many years has just been two simple connections, in the name of progress and efficiency, has become much more complicated with parts to parts and a 14 step set of directions that begins with "Carefully remove items from the box..."  Apparently I had missed a step, but I was clueless as to a solution and formulating the words to inform my friend that a better plumber was needed and perhaps a better friend.
            The cup of coffee saved all.
            I walked away.  I filled my cup, took a deep breath, closed my eyes and imagined a soft sandy beach or blanket of powder snow.  I slurped and prayed and contemplated my navel and our great friendship for several minutes before heading back inside, motivated for a fifth and final attempt.
            This time, having done nothing differently but a few sips of coffee, after five minutes of vigilant and awestruck staring, I could find no leak at all and the steady flow at the tap soon put my friend's anguish to rest.
            Life is full of struggles large and small, but the solutions are not always easy to find in the set of directions that may or may not come in the package.  Items that seem like a bargin are often more problematic in actuality and old habits do not necessarily have to be updated.
            Sometimes there are no proofs at all, but spirit (however we want to define it), with a good cup of coffee, just makes it so.

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