Monday, March 05, 2007

"The Jerk" from Rags to Riches to Rags...

"My story?" I didn't even like the film but it's appropriate.

I was standing in an inch of greasy, chemical water, a hose stuck in the drain, two plumber's snakes and two empty bottles of drain cleaner as well as a disconected pipe with wretch attched to it. Life was going down the drain, mostly because the water was not.

I'd been told for several weeks now to just hire a plumber. Stubborn as I am I refused. I've unclogged this thing before and have purchased three tools and many odds and ends to fix this problem. Besides, I just paid the bills so it's not like I have cash just sitting around that I can throw at a problem that I know the guy isn't just going to be able to walk in and fix. The clog is more than 25 feet down a curvy pipe under the concrete slab of my basement. As Gary Larson says, "This not be cheap."

So I'm yelling, now at my wife because she came down to tell me to stop. Ten minutes later my best friend calls. He asks me what's up. I let me know... mostly calmly.

What does he do? An hour later he calls back. The bad news: He's subborn and I'm going to accept his generosity. The good news: He wired me money and I have to hire a plumber tomorrow. I don't know, he probably got those two mixed up.

My best friend is a jerk. It makes me want to cry because it's one of those acts of kindness that really shows what it means to be "Christ-like". Maybe it's the whole fish for your taxes thing or something. I don't know. But I also want to go smash things. I want to pick up the hammer I was using on the wrench on the pipe and just smash my laundry room to bits.

It raises an odd question in my mind: If I had handled the problem well (e.g. calmly) what would have happened? Would my friend have stepped in? Am I just such a baby that people feel they have to come in and care for me? Or is this just one more chance for God to smile knowingly at me and say, "See? You should listen to your wife."

But all that is crap. This isn't a cosmic "I told you so" or anything like that. Nope, this is the core of friendship and brotherly love. It's so awesome it brings tears to my eyes. And it's crap. It's total crap. I feel like Steve Martin sitting on the curb dirty and smelly. The movie is just about to end and the family has pulled up to take me home. Even my wife takes me back. And me? I'm still yelling, "I don't need anything. ...except this plunger. You'll see! I don't need anything except this plunger. ...and this hose. I'll show you!"

What a bitterness grace carries. It's the taste of swallowed pride finally flowing out of the clogged heart.

I'll call the plumber in the morning.

~Luke Holzmann

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