It’s been pouring for days. It’s my kind of weather except when it impacts the toilets in my house. That’s where I draw the line. The toilets, the shower, the bathtub and the garage sink went on strike all at once and filled up with water. Grey, dirty water.
That required immediate emergency measures. I called two plumbers who were asleep and couldn’t be bothered with my plight. It was Sunday after all, the day of rest, and crises would have to wait. The third plumber responded and came over in 45 minutes. Meanwhile Alf was filling buckets of water from the shower and dumping them in the backyard. I was pacing the kitchen trying to stay calm. The rain continued. Calvin was on guard with nose quivering.
Finally Juan showed up in an unmarked truck. That sent alarm bells off in my head. Calvin began howling. He introduced himself and smiled with a mouthful of braces and spoke in faltering English. The alarm bells were getting louder. Calvin was grunting. Juan unscrewed the cap to the main pipe to the house and a volcano of water erupted flooding the front lawn. I was convinced we had called a hack and I was ready to phone another plumber, and then the police, if I could find either who wasn’t taking a nap. Calvin was hissing and booing at Juan.
Alf decided to go with it. Juan pulled out a snake and a camera from his truck and did a diagnostic. Sure enough the roots of our bushes were strangling the outflow from the pipe and would need to be replaced. Juan called two buddies who appeared too quickly – were they waiting around the corner? – which confirmed we had hired a gang of thugs to fix our plumbing. This was not looking good. Calvin agreed. He was showing his pearly whites and howling.
The gang worked all day digging and snaking and digging some more. Calvin snarled along with them from the kitchen. The guys took a break to get tacos. We asked where they went and now we have a recommendation for a neighborhood taqueria. Calvin got a gleam in his eye.
The gang continued with the dig. It felt like an archaeological excavation in my front lawn. The chewed up pipe was finally unearthed, and I began to calm down. Maybe these guys knew their job after all. Calvin, exhausted from his protective detail, had curled up in his bed and gone to sleep.
By the end of the day the plumbers had unplugged the back-up, got the water flowing again, and I had my toilets back. They said they’d come back the next day to install the new pipe and eat more tacos.
Calvin says, “I’ve earned at least a dozen tacos. Let’s go!”
“The bird spooked my dog and she hid in the closet the rest of the day. When will you be taking it home?” Sonia said to Heather at lunch today.
“I should ask my husband. He doesn’t know yet.”
Hurry,” Sonia said.
Sonia lives in a Victorian house with her husband and dog one block away from the office. A yellow cockatiel landed on the doorstep last week. It had no identification or passport. It was shivering. Nora, one of the residents, found him and brought him indoors. She bought a cage, food and toys. The bird is thriving in the kitchen with the noise of cooking and the residents talking to it everyday. At night it shares Nora’s bedroom. By the end of the month it should be talking in full sentences.
“Tonight,” Heather said.
“Call me,” Sonia said.
If Heather does take it, it will have a swanky life in Tiburon with a view of water and trees to look at, but nobody to talk to. Heather and her husband work all day.
I’m hoping it stays in the Victorian with its fans who already enjoy it’s company. Sonia will just have to teach her dog bird-speak.
Calvin says, “That Burmese Mountain dog is all drama. She needs to get over herself.”
While the Warriors played their championship win this week, I noticed an interesting cultural phenomena on my street Tuesday night.
My Indian neighbors – those who have come to the US for the tech jobs – were hooting and hollering like the best of us over the game.
Their voices flowed out of their open windows and crossed the street to my house.
The American assimilation had begun.
One family has two children, a white Lab, and a Volvo. They’ve already been seduced.
Another family has a daughter in the elementary school around the corner. I often hear her arguing with her mother in perfect kid-lingo, sounding like a typical spoiled American child, while her mother answers her in her language.
I grew up in foreign countries.
I know what it’s like to be on foreign soil, eating different food, hearing another language all day long.
So a basketball game makes a lot of sense.
There’s no need for subtitles.
A basket is a basket.
A foul is a foul.
And a shouting coach needs no interpretation in any language.
I remember going to bullfights.
I would always cheer for the bull.
Calvin says, “You would. You prefer animals to people anyway.”
I asked my seatmate on the subway this morning what station he was getting off at since I needed to get out. It turned out to be the same as mine. I noticed an accent, so I asked him where he was from.
“Zimbabwe,” he said.
I was waiting to hear Berkeley.
“Have you been back recently?” I said.
“Oh maybe 12 years ago. I’m more a native Californian, been here for 28 years,” he said.
“Do you miss it?”
“Not really, it’s a mess.”
“The world’s a mess,” I said.
He agreed. He was a man in his 40’s, fair skinned, blue eyes, blonde short cut hair. He looked like the average American except for his accent.
I looked around the subway car. The world was in there – African Americans, Latinos, Asians, Koreans, White, and this morning the man from Africa.
Who says America is no longer the melting pot of the world?
They just haven’t ridden a subway lately.
Calvin says, “You want melting pot? Visit your local doggie daycare. It’s dizzying.”