Leveling the Level Doesn’t Level the Sink

Honestly, we thought it was just another day of plumbing. The term “honestly” is used rhetorically here – we’re plumbers, which means we can’t lie. Wow, there’s so much to tell you. Let me see if I can break it down into manageable pieces (a codo, a tubo, and a mixto). Mixto is Mike, Tubo is Shawn (me), and the Codo is Ravi (well actually he’s a 1 inch to half inch reduccion, but let’s not get lost in details).

Mixto Mike

Mixto is a man, arguably ‘the’ man, yet so much more that the three letter word does not do him justice. Mixto is honesty. It all started the day he, Ravi, and I first tried to install a sink onto our first Sanitation unit without Connor (our mentor, aka “Professor Plumb”). To install this sink, we must drill holes in the concrete wall for the bolts. Naturally the holes in the wall must line up with the holes in the sink, so there is a bit of plumber eyeing involved (plumber eyeing – to use one’s plumber eye in order to measure something’s distance or relative position).

Ravi holds the sink to the wall, I mark the holes where the drilling will be done, and Mixto makes sure the sink is level so the water actually flows down the drain instead of building up on one side of the sink basin. The first hole is marked and drilled. Hold the sink up again, place a bolt in the first hole, and mark the second hole making sure that the sink is level. This is arguably one of the most important steps, because if you mark incorrectly, you may drill a hole that a) does not line up with the hole in the sink, b) is not level, c) forces you to drill a new first hole because a) or b) is true but only by just enough that you can’t redo hole #2 without completely effing it up (to ef something up is to ruin it beyond repair).

Naturally, before I mark Hole #2, I ask Mixto if it is level. He says, “hold on… okay… now it is.” Ravi then points out that the level is not stable, it is wobbling. Mike presses one end of the level down and the other end tilts up. He does the same thing with the other side. Let me add that the three of us are in tight quarters with Ravi holding the sink, me on my knees under the sink, and Mixto leaning around Ravi while not stepping on me trying to line up the level. Mike moves the level various places, while Ravi adjusts the height of the sink by millimeters each time trying to get it just right. Eager to mark the hole, I ask if it is level. Mixto replies that it is. I ask for confirmation. He again confirms, “yes it is level”. I stretch my neck up just enough to see the level resting on the sink, confirm that the bubble is in the middle. I mark the hole.

Ravi is happy to be relieved of the weight of the giant sink basin. Mixto is excited that more destruction to concrete is eminent. He eagerly hands me the Hammer Drill. I look at the mark I made on the concrete – plumber eye it with the first hole and notice my brow furrow. I look at Mixto. “Are you sure that’s level?”

He replies, “Can I be honest with you?”

“Mike, I only ever want you to be honest with me.”

Tubo plumbing the crucifix above the toilet.

Here begins the story of Honesty. From this point on, plumbers cannot lie. Mixto loves this response so much that the option of not being honest is completely stricken from the essence of all plumbers. The phrase, “I can’t lie, I’m a plumber” is born. From now on, all interactions, all responses, opinions, feelings, and actions of and between plumbers are honest. Poker is useless. Lying impossible. Truth, knowledge and fun – inevitable.

With the beginning of Honesty comes the punch line of our first sink installation. Mike responds to my inquiry, “okay, so the sink was level according to the level, but the level had a nut under it.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, the sink was level when there was a nut under one end of the level.”

“Why was there a nut under one end of the level?”

“Because I put it there to make it level.”

The three of us break out laughing realizing the absurdity of the situation.

“So the sink’s NOT level?”

“Yes, probably not.”

“So we have to do it again?”

“That would probably be a good idea, yeah.”

“God I love you!”

“I love you too. Let’s get this sink installed!”

“Okay, tell me when it’s level for real this time.”