We slept until noon. Around three, Sylvie left to register for her conference at some humongous hotel on the bay. After registration and check-in there would be meet and greet meetings followed by an opening night banquet, speeches and entertainment, closing with some notorious keynote speaker with a wishful thinking slide show on passion, motivation, and sports. But Sylvie would be back at the bungalow for the night. She would not be sleeping at the hotel. I walked around the bungalow and yard, checking out the details, sipping a late afternoon coffee, feeling lazy and easy going. Our neighbors to the east were noisily going in and out of their place, filling a small dumpster out front with trash from their house. I wandered over to say hello. Josh and Margo were co-presidents of a service fraternity, and they’d leased the house for a week of meetings and parties in sync with the fall semesters starting up. The clean-up was almost over, and they were vacating the place as soon as they got it inspected and got their security and cleaning deposits back. Meantime, did I know anything about plumbing? One of their toilets was backed up. I found a plumber’s helper and a drain snake in the garage and went to work. Apparently they don’t teach you in college not to flush a bikini down a toilet, I said. Or an empty beer can. Margo looked distraught. Josh said he’d not taken Plumbing 101 yet. I plunged the second toilet for good measure. When I asked Josh what he was studying he said he’d soon be finished with a business degree in marketing and planned to pursue an MBA. His goal was to amass as much capital as he possibly could over the next ten years then sit back on his laurels and surf. He was planning a startup that would amass capital for the express purpose of funding other startups. Right, Margo joshed him, it will take you the next ten years just to pay off your student loans. Margo was studying forensic science. Maybe you should both consider a plumbing start-up, I suggested, and left them to their clean-up, studies, and careers.
“Plumber’s Helper” is episode 62 of Inventories, a Novel in Progress in Serial Format at The Coming of the Toads.