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An Unhinged Screw
A couple of screws were loose, or three in fact (the third had come so loose as to fall down into the hot water supply line, and was at least partly responsible for the vibrating pipes that the Restauranteur was complaining about) and the hot side washer, without the screw, was just lying free against the stem, and/or the seat, working in a fashion but not that well. The other two screws were not themselves actually loose but the handles they were supposedly securing definitely were not as you would want them, functioning yes, but shaky. What appears to have fixed this wonkiness of the handles is longer screws, although they would certainly also work better if the female housings, into which go the hot and cold side splines, were deeper. So in fact, there were no loose screws, although the one that had fallen down into the supply line had I guess you could say gone through the process of being loose. Completely free of its mooring though a thing is not really loose anymore, but free. Turning the hot water valve to off and unscrewing the stem and then cupping my hand around the exposed valve seat and turning the water back on caused the missing screw to shoot up through my hand and into the sink (and I had thought ahead and closed the drain stopper.)

But earlier, in the morning, not knowing ahead of time that I was destined for failure, if not a permanent one, and as it seems this faucet has been nothing but trouble, I went out in search of a new one. Not wanting to go back to where I had gotten the one that has caused all the trouble I used my new found interest in subway travel to justify a trip on the F train to 23rd Street, where there is a Home Depot. But I'm looking for a faucet with big lever-type handles to accommodate disability plumbing code requirements for restaurant bathrooms and I'm not seeing these at Home Depot. While the employees there are helpful enough they cannot really answer my question regarding the finer aspects of NY plumbing code, so I collared a couple of guys dressed in coveralls speaking to each other in what sounded like maybe Croatian, and interrupted them to ask were they plumbers. I'm not sure they were but the one of them seemed to like the idea of it and said, in perfectly unaccented English, uh yes, we are. But I'm probably asking the wrong questions based on what is clearly an imperfect understanding of plumbing. As I walked away from the Croatians a Home Depot employee trotted up to me and suggested I go to one of two area plumbing supply stores.

So from 23rd Street between 5th and 6th I'm heading to 18th Street between 7th and 8th. And I'm daydreaming right out of the gate and end up on 8th Ave and know by the time I get to 18th Street I'm going to forget my orientation (seems implausible from here but at the time I was just thoroughly disconnected from a visualization of the grid) and not know whether I should turn left or right.

The last time I was in this neighborhood was months ago to meet a group of friends for a buffet of intestines and such. After the meal Bernadette and I had walked for awhile with a couple from the group, two artists, and once remembering that I felt pretty sure I would run into the man, and I did, just one block later. We chatted briefly, not really awkwardly but with a mutual inclination towards wrapping things up so as to avoid the awkward silence. He was clearly not as prepared to see me as I was him, and for a moment afterwards, walking away up 8th Ave., I wondered if perhaps I had conjured him to appear from some thin air, and now that my back was turned, he was transporting back through that thin air to wherever he had been before the rude interruption, and once back there was shaking his head in befuddlement, wondering, and not for the first time, too much acid in the eighties?

I can tell right off that this is not a place that particularly welcomes with open arms retail customers, it is a plumbing supply for contractors mostly, and I wait patiently while two employees doing absolutely nothing avoid having to deal with me. I have written all over me man with stupid questions who will waste your time. And I do not disappoint. I am, as advertised. And I leave empty handed, accepting slowly the failure that is defining my morning.

And so, over eager to get back on familiar ground I descend again into the bowels of the subway, but into the wrong entrance and realize only after I've swiped my card that none of the options in front of me are ones I want. Instead of heading back downtown I travel a few stops uptown on one of the numbered lines, and exit at 42 and Broadway, Times Square. It is a bit of a GollyGee, New York City moment, the entire sides of buildings are flashing advertisements at me, so I stay put, lean against a building and pull out the little device which continues to prove its hesitance to pick up a wifi signal when I most need it to. The signal is necessary to make any of my various mapping programs work (there is one that tells me which subway to take), and when they do work, they really work quite well. When working they allow me to achieve the best of both worlds. Not when I'm on an important mission to fix a faucet but on one of my many days off, it is for me a great thrill to venture out from a starting point and find myself through circuitous routing, completely disoriented. And then later, if my electronic maps are working I can in responsible fashion come back to earth, get myself oriented, and back to home base. It is kind of like a hobby for me.

But you can't engage in your hobbies every day. Once in awhile you need to fix a faucet and is too much to ask that in pursuit of this goal that everything works just the way you want it to? Which is a dumb question. No, there actually are dumb questions.

Now though, still leaning against the building, I realize I am in the early stages of paralysis, I have given up on the pretense of searching for a signal but am still staring downward, using the little device only as a prop, scoping out the hundreds and hundreds of passing shoes, my favorites this year and by favorite I mean least favorite is the open toed high heeled sandal espadrille hybrid. They seem to have too much and too little going on at the same time. The only thing that would make me like those shoes is if they came with built in wireless routers, so that every time I saw a pair I could also be using a mapping program to help me get the hell out of Times Square. I mean, I'll come back another day when I have more time.

I have by now stared long enough at a static version of the miniature subway map on my device to feel less daunted by the task of moving forward, and so find myself imbued with a surging confidence which has me walking back down steps leading below the sidewalks of NYC. I'm not sure what I got on, maybe an X or an R line, but it took me close enough, I got off on or near Prince St. and walked back easterly. And as with the many times before when suffering from disorientation in the west, realizing I had arrived at the Bowery made me feel calm, and home again.

In the restaurant which is closed for Monday's I performed the up above aforementioned and had that faucet working, well, let's just say better than it has in awhile. Right smack dab into the dubious expression on the face of the just arrived Restauranteur I said, no really, works great, try it out. She did, said hot damn. Neither one of us believes it will stay fixed forever. There will come a day in the foreseeable future when I will have to go back out there searching for a new faucet.
- jimlouis 6-15-2010 11:15 am [link]