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The Idle American
"All Pipers Must Be Paid..."
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 • Posted March 19, 2014

Bitter as the pill may taste, it is one each generation has a hard time swallowing: The piper must be paid.

It’s a fundamental truth, muddled, of course, when “layaway plans” were trumped by credit purchases. “Buying now, paying later” is bait easily ingested, sliding down as smoothly as boiled okra in a gullet greased with WD-40.

Further, ad people tempt with new pitches to dull our financial senses. Soon, I expect “come-ons” with no interest due until The Second Coming….

    *****

Someone dressed up the importance of payment options with clever wordplay. He/she said: “Some pay when due. Some overdue. Some never do. How do you do?” A fair question, what?

Just as dieters are said to “go to great lengths to avoid great widths,” foolish mortals seem forever committed to taking alternate routes. They seek roads that masquerade as shortcuts—that is, to delay payment for as long as possible. Others chug-a-lug from the DIY (Do It Yourself) cup—you know, the devilish drink that convinces us we can save much wampum by “doing it ourselves.” Spouses warn us about slippery slopes, but after gulping down the beverage, we take the Lowe’s ad to heart—the one that says we can “build something together.” If such be true, Lowe’s had better be ready to hold up more than its half of the load….

    *****

We sometimes hear of derring-do that makes our head spin. Some folks are dumber than doorknobs on revolving doors—pushing envelopes further than the dollar store on sale day.

What about the veteran water department employee in Dallas? About five years ago, he decided he’d rather not pay his own water bills. So, he quit. His scheme worked until the recent discovery that he had jimmied his meter.

He’s paying far more than the piper. Faced with a felony charge of criminal mischief, he’s lost his job and faces overdue payment of $1,916 for water “taken from the till.” (That’s an average of $30 a month, so he must have used precious little water, perhaps figuring he might one day get caught.)…

    *****

Bill Fishback, a longtime college administrator, is a competent professional. And as a rule, he makes it through weekends easily. He’s in the church choir, even sings in a quartet.

When fishing, he typically catches his limit. Check his deep freeze and find fish at all depths.

He’s also frugal, known to climb over gates to save hinges. One weekend, however, he partook of that potion—DIY mentioned above—that crumbled his logic. A drain was clogged in the guest bathroom; “I’ll fix it myself and save a bundle,” he reasoned….

    *****

He rented a rooter device. Rental shop owner Van Marshall warned that he might encounter some blockages that would require his “working it back and forth” a few times.

“Piece of cake,” Bill responded.

Sure enough, the cable twice would go no farther, so Bill did as instructed. With back and forth action, the cable wormed forward, nearing the bathroom, some 75 feet away. Hooray, thought he, at the prospect of a project so quickly completed….

    *****

But no. It stopped again, and this time, “back and forth” efforts solved nothing. Bill’s “get-a-bigger-hammer” mentality set in. He gave the cable his mightiest shove as prayers went upward for the cable to move forward. All seemed well. Bill chuckled gleefully, thankful he’d cleared the clogs with just five feet of cable remaining.

Whistling, he strutted to the bathroom, ready to dislocate both arms, if need be, during well-earned patting of his own back. Seconds later, his wife, Cecil, joined him, but there was “no joy in Mudville.”

Six feet of cable flopped against the wall. Shattered porcelain cluttered the floor where the commode once stood. “I guess I shoved it too hard,” he whimpered….

    *****

Looking on the bright side, Fishback bragged that the bathtub was not damaged.

Undaunted, he returned the rooter. He then spent $135 more for a new commode, paint and putty.

Money could have been saved, of course, if a plumber had been called early on. This way, though, there’s a story for sharing across the years. It has embellishment possibilities, maybe including an eventual account claiming his mother-in-law was in the bathroom when things imploded…..

    *****

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Speaking inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Website: www.speakerdoc.com. Twitter: @donnewbury.

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