Wednesday, May 16, 2007

NO Stress?

So I decided to go down this path (having my own lawn business) for lots of reasons, one of which was to dial down the daily stress that the J-O-B was dealing out, and the other major one was to get back to working from a position of absolute integrity. For all intents and purposes, I now cut grass for a living - how hard could that be? Right.

Yesterday began with the best of intents - get my customers done for the day so that I could get my workout in, and perhaps even get out to Flatwoods with Diana for her inaugural bike ride. That's when things went horribly wrong. I started with a brand new customer who spoke zero English - nada, nunka, nothing. My initial contact with her was through her daughter, who did the negotiations and let me know what her mom needed.

I was in my groove, had busted out my line trimmer (weed whacker...) and was making my way around the house. Of course, here in Florida, nearly all homes have irrigation systems, and these are all built pretty much the same, with a 1" PVC pipe from the main water line that leads to a cutoff valve and line back down to the sprinkler heads. This contraption sticks out of the ground about 2 feet - and in a cost saving, home builder, shoddy workmanship style, is made of perhaps the lowest grade, thinnest PVC that could be gotten away with. The PVC pipe you buy at Home Depot, say, for home repairs or projects is easily twice as thick as what was used on this home (and my home too, I'm afraid...). This PVC sits in the sun 24-7, and gets more brittle with each passing year.

You can see where this is heading. In case you didn't know it, a weed whacker will slice through this PVC like it was just another piece of grass. In an instant, I had an eruption of water! I had hit the inbound pipe, the one that comes from the street - after a couple of minutes of panic, I realized that the only way to stop the flow was to turn off the main from the street. Ever try that? The water company has a special wrench they fashion for the sole purpose of turning that valve. My buddy Mike lived close by and I borrowed a pipe wrench and wrestled that valve closed. Eventually.

I learned a bunch yesterday about irrigation systems. I can probably do some pretty good repairs to sprinkler heads or lines and maybe even add a sprinkler or two if given the chance. The four hours I spent panicking, then getting the water off, then repairing the line, then testing the system (only to find out that it wasn't working in the first place - ug!) - and the really funny part, attempting to communicate with Senora Customer with my nearly non-existent Spanish, made for an interesting start to my day.

Large pipe wrench and all the tools and supplies needed to fix a busted water supply line - never leave home without them. Yes, yes, I know, pictures would have made this much more interesting. Sorry to disappoint you. The really funny picture WOULD have been of me trying to stop the leak initially with Duct Tape - water all over me - that must have been hilarious! And here I thought Duct Tape (100 mile an hour tape) could fix anything. Another one of life's disappointments...

10 comments:

Bill said...

At least it could only get better from there. ;)

Good luck with this new direction.

Bolder said...

least you didn't wack her.

Duane said...

Duct tape is still king!

Myles said...

Ahggg! I put in a sprinkler system in my previous home...and I put it in and I put it in and I put it in I kept knocking off the heads.

greeneyedlady said...

Dios mio, mi amigo!!! Vive y aprende, vive y aprende...

Wrenching Winz said...

Duck tape doesnt work if something is already wet :(

Iron Pol said...

Duct tape will fix anything. You just have to try harder, next time. Well, not that I'm wishing you a "next time" on this event, but still...

But Winz is right, "wet" makes duct tape a bit less effective. Add oil to the mix, and you must be a duct tape master to effect repairs.

ShirleyPerly said...

Well, that's something I didn't know about PVC. We installed our own irrigation system but I'll be careful while doing my yard nevertheless.

Hope things go better in the future. I definitely wish I spoke spanish living here in FL!

Tri-Dummy said...

You coulda left it...but you are a good guy to take care of it. INTEGRITY. i like it.

LBTEPA said...

Oh no!
my husband used to have a lawn mowing business, it's a hard life, but in a good way.