I Loves Me Some John Henry

I loves me some John Henry.

That’s an unusual thing to read, or to write, about your plumber. I know. But they have been a great comfort, pardon the pun, to me and my family through the years.

When Kathie and I first bought Castle Pretentious, five years ago as I write this, we were scared. We had both lived in some kind of rental housing the whole of our adult lives. If anything ever broke, we sent a note to the landlord or called the manager and it got fixed within a day or so.

We went on vacation and found our refrigerator had given up when we walked in the door with our luggage. One phone call and we had a new one—with an ice maker that worked, too!

The semi-convenient laundry facilities would cash-out from time to time and a quick call would bring a trained professional with a box full of tools and ideas to monkey with it for a while and then it would be fixed.

But we had no idea how to do most everything involved in home ownership. How much is a toilet seat, anyway? How much is a really good one? How much is a, pardon me, crappy one? What if we needed a new window, or a new water heater? How much do those kinds of things run, generally? We had no idea.

Only a few weeks after we moved in there was a huge storm. A branch came off of a neighborhood tree and on its way to our driveway took the life out of our chimney. Well, here it comes….

John Henry's in Lincoln
John Henry’s in Lincoln

We called John Henry and they sent out Thad and he climbed up on the roof and fixed the damned thing. It’s been up there ever since. Couldn’t be happier.

Last summer, toward the end, our central air conditioning started to give us trouble. We again had no idea, but we called Thad and he came out and fixed it, too. And he explained that we had probably gotten about all of the value out of our 1989 air conditioner that we were going to get. We should think about getting a new one. It would be quieter, it would cool better, and it would save us a huge fraction of our current electric bill over a very short amount of time.

Sure enough, this spring when the temperature rose up so did the ugly noises coming from the outdoor unit. We had someone out to fiddle with it and it worked again, but they told us the next time would probably be the last. We called John Henry and they sent out Ryan with a book of options. A few checkmarks and a few signatures and we were on the books as owners of a soon to be new central air conditioner. The last thing Ryan said as he started to pull away was “If you have any trouble with this unit, let me know and I’ll send someone out to fix it for you, until the new unit gets here. We’ll fix it for free.”

Well, they gambled. They lost.

Over the last ten days, they’ve been here eight times, coaxing and cajoling our sad little 1989-era unit into chuffing along through another week or so. I’m pretty sure we have used-up whatever profit was in the deal, and they’re still planning to come out and do the installation.

We still don’t know much about home ownership. We can’t do any of that stuff you see on cable-TV over the weekends. We can’t spackle. We can’t frame. We can’t wire and we can’t plumb. But we can join in on the Do You Know A Guy conversations, now. We have a plumber, heating and air conditioning guy.

Ask me about ’em, some time.

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