Ed note: The following will (hopefully) be up soon on Huffington Post. I was waiting to link to it there, but since it’s sort of a timely piece, I wanted to share it before going to bed. If it goes up soon, I’ll post the link. In the meantime, happy reading.
Dear Honorable (and Other) Members of the United States Congress,
I know y’all are busy, what with all that finger pointing and all, but I’d like to tell you a story. I pay your salary, so indulge me, won’t you?
Years ago, when I was on sabbatical from college (long story short — it’s always better to leave before they kick you out, because then you can go back later), I tended bar at a family-friendly restaurant on Long Island. One afternoon, right before the dinner rush, the building’s sewage system went haywire and somehow it backed up on itself. Essentially, it reversed course and the system was pushing the sewage INTO the dining room. I know, gross. We obviously had no choice but to quickly usher our guests out of the restaurant and shut down.
While waiting what we assumed would be just a few minutes for the plumber, the staff downed whatever food was left in the kitchen and prayed for a swift resolution so that we could open the doors, get back to work and, just maybe, pay our respective rent bills that month.
As the time ticked by and no one showed, we began to lose hope that the night could be saved. We gathered around tables, gorged ourselves on whatever was left of the mozzarella sticks and chicken wings and entertained each other with the stories we’d collected after years in the restaurant business. To be honest, except for the fact that we were losing money with each passing second, it was almost fun. Until that one older cook brought up his kid and the fact that he’d picked up this shift to try to make enough to feed him — that was a real downer.
Anyway, there we were, toasting with pot stickers when I heard one of the guys yell out, “Hey, can I help you?”
We all turned at the same time to see who he was talking to. As it turned out, there was a completely random guy wandering around the restaurant. Seems he hadn’t even noticed all of us sitting up there waiting to work. We thought perhaps he was a customer who hadn’t seen the sign on the door, until he yelled back, “Oh, hey, I got a call to come over here for a busted pipe. I’m the plumber.”
With the highly theatrical bearing that befitted the sentence, the wise guy in the crowd yelled back, “Well then, by God, man, plumb!”
That was over twenty years ago now. But I find myself reliving that moment today. Because here we sit on the eve of Sequestration taking effect, and you, dear plumbers, are wandering around the building aimlessly, seemingly unaware of our presence — and apparently blissfully oblivious to the fact that if this damned thing doesn’t get fixed, we’re all going to be sitting here in a pile of sh-t unable to pay our rent or provide for our kids or feed ourselves when the pot stickers run out.
So please, for the love of God, people, start plumbing.