How to Become a Plumber: Part 6, Conclusion

Once in a while I’ll be at a supply house and an old coworker will walk in whom I haven’t seen for years. Seeing me at 67, one guy said “Doc, you ain’t retired yet? Seems like you’d be about ready to check out.” My reply was “Are you kiddin’? Plumbin’s like the freakin’ Hotel California: you can check out all you want, but you can’t never leave!”

I’ve see a lot of old plumbers sitting on those bar stools at the supply house. We seldom ever leave the trade until the undertaker carries us out feet first; there’s just too much work that still needs doing. We’ve learned a lot, worked a lot, and improved a lot of lives. Every time one of us dies, it’s like a library burning down, even though the pipes we ran will last for a hundred years.

Who will replace us?

Young, strong, smart boys in high school don’t daydream about getting out, moving heavy things, and shaping the world they see around them. Instead, they expect to move to yet another day care center and spend four more years pretending to learn useless junk until they’re paroled to their parents’ basement with a lifetime’s worth of debt, searching the web for an employer who wants to hire a graduate in “integrative studies.”

Nobody tells them that a plumber gets to go outside, run power tools, dig holes, hit stuff hard, climb ladders, play with fire, build things, and make money. Someone has said that “schools are designed and run by women to teach boys how to behave like girls.” We don’t need any more boys like that.

Who will replace us? Maybe you. The door is wide open.