Mirror, mirror, on the wall
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Mirror, mirror, on the wall

My grandmother always used to say, “If we could only see ourselves as others see us…” Like the woman who walks into shul, tossing her hair like she is in a shampoo commercial, but has a huge hole in her tights that she is totally unaware of (and totally unaware of its precarious location). This is the perfect time of year for self-reflection — for taking an inventory of what about ourselves we need to let go of, to change, to walk away from, to improve.

But what happens if we think that we are perfect? What happens if we think the problem is everyone else? I think that is a problem. But if we cannot see our own flaws, who is supposed to tell us? I know I have issues. Many, many issues, so many issues that I don’t even know where to start… So I will start with “What I learned from Pedro the plumber.” Allow me to explain.

A few weeks ago, son #3 had some friends over for his birthday weekend. We love all of his friends. Sometimes things happen, and one of these friends, whose identity has yet to be revealed, had an “incident” that involved clogging the boys’ toilet and subsequently husband #1 and my toilet. A neat trick, I know, but apparently it is possible. So when son #3 had about 60 kids over, we had one working toilet. Needless to say, we used our neighbors’ bathroom…

Yes, we tried to use a plunger (and so did two of our friends) but it was not a pretty situation. And not a situation we could resolve without spending money.

The sun set, Shabbos ended, and I searched for plumbers who were open 24/7. You would be surprised at how many say they are open, but then don’t answer the phone. When I called Drain Doctor, I was surprised to hear a voice on the other end of the phone. “How may I help you?” the man said innocently. “Well, someone clogged the toilet and then, because sometimes boys aren’t the brightest, a few others went to the bathroom, even though the toilet was clearly clogged, and then our toilet started bubbling and then that toilet didn’t flush and could you please come right now and will it cost a million dollars?” That is pretty much an exact quote.

The nice man told me that it would be X number of dollars for the first toilet and then Y number of dollars for the second toilet and an additional fee for coming after 9:30 at night, but if the stack is clogged blah blah blah blah we take off the toilet blah blah blah….Z number of dollars. At that point, I didn’t care because when you gotta go, you gotta go, and you can’t go if you don’t have a toilet that works.

The house was still full of boys — actually, some girls might have come over at that point — and there still was only one working toilet. I sat by the door waiting for the Drain Doctor. An hour later, the van pulled up, and I was excited as a kid on Christmas morning. “Hi, I am Pedro,” he said. “Oh Pedro, it has been quite the day. Why, when you clog someone’s toilet, can’t you just tell them? Why did kids keep using it when it was clearly clogged? How come my toilet isn’t working when we didn’t clog it? Is the sewer going to back up? Are you going to be able to fix it? Blah blah blah” and this is when it happened…

Pedro looked at me and said, “Ma’am, I am not going to be able to work with all of your negative energy. It isn’t what I need right now. I think maybe you should leave the house until I am finished.”

I had two choices. I could punch Pedro in the face, or I could leave husband #1 in charge, go visit my parents, and let Pedro do his thing. Honestly, if it wasn’t almost 11 at night and I didn’t have two broken toilets, I might have chosen option A. But I chose B, and I heard what Pedro said.

I can be negative. That is something that I have to change. There are families that live with only one bathroom. What do they do when that toilet is broken? Look how good I have it…

So thank you, Pedro. Thank you for pointing out something that I should work on changing in the new year.

If any of you need a good doctor, I can give you Pedro’s number.

Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck will try very hard to be more positive, but being negative is so much more fun.

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