I guess there is a huge variety of times when we need a little extra help from our Creator. Sometimes it’s a severe illness, sometimes it’s a tragedy, sometimes it’s a perplexing life situation. And then, at least for some of us, it might be a plumbing project.
I’d been working for three weeks on replacing all of the main drain pipes for our 1917 model Craftsman style house. The cast iron pipes under the concrete basement floor were badly corroded and had even partially collapsed in a couple of sections. Several of the ceramic pipe sections—called “clay tile” by some folks—had sunk slightly, creating low sections with recurring blockages. The entire one-hundred-and-eighty-five foot long line had been invaded by tree roots. So… after paying for five service calls in four weeks, we decided it was time for drastic action.
During a record-setting bitter freeze in February of 2021, I’d finished the basement section, cutting through the concrete and digging down to remove the old pipe and replace it with new PVC plastic pipe. Now on a warm and windy March day, my friend BJ was helping me finish up the outside line. Working in a twenty-four inch wide trench nearly ninety feet long that sloped from six feet to nine feet deep, we worked to connect the last section of four-inch PVC pipe.
The glue used to join plastic pipe sets up quickly and once it sets, it’s generally impossible to separate the joint. We’re talking a matter of seconds here, folks. When you’re working with one end “open” or “free,” it’s not a big deal. But in those situations when you have to connect a piece in between two fixed pieces, it’s a bit tricky. After applying primer to all four joint sections (the inner and outer surface at both joints), you then apply glue to all four surfaces, put the pieces together and rotate slightly to spread the glue. That last part has to be completed in five-to-ten seconds.
Our last joint required us to slip in an eight-inch section of pipe into two angled joints. “As soon as I get this into place,” I told my friend, “I need you to help me pull it slightly forward and then rotate it.”
I swabbed all surfaces with the purple primer and then the glue. I quickly tucked one end into one joint and had the other end almost into the second joint. “Almost” isn’t worth much in PVC connections. The edge of the pipe section was stuck against the edge of the joint. The first end had already started to thicken and set.
My exclamation of “No!” was both prayer and consternation. I hit the stubborn spot sharply with the edge of my fist. The whole piece suddenly popped into place. That in itself was pretty cool but something else happened for which I have no natural explanation. The first end loosened and the piece slid forward about three-quarters of an inch into perfectly balanced position between the two joints. We quickly rotated the piece slightly and it was done.
The new sewer line was finished! We were elated. But BJ and I did not take all the credit. “Sure was nice to have that angel bump there on that last piece,” I noted. “Yes, it was,” he nodded.
You know what I mean, right? Those situations when you just don’t have enough of whatever you need to deal with something, do something or maybe have to do without something and then, all at once, you do have what you need? Wisdom, faith, strength, acceptance, whatever. Something happens, somebody shows up, something happens and then suddenly, things work out. Yep, that’s it. That’s the angel bump that little extra thing that gets you over the hump or through the tunnel. It’s pretty awesome, really. Even if it’s just a piece of pipe fitting into place.
Especially when it’s the piece of pipe that means you can start using your indoor bathrooms again.