The main water upriser in our building is being replaced. The lone plumber carrying out this marathon task has been here for so long he could claim residency. When it was our turn to be connected up he explained why he could not align the new pipe with an old one already running through our apartment. Apparently, he has to use a blow-torch at 700 degrees to solder the copper pipe and he didn't think it was a good idea. I started to argue but he tapped the second pipe: "It's the gas mains and it's made of lead." He nodded at me assuming I was aware, which I am, that lead pipes are soft. "Fine," I said. "You're the expert and you're right. Keep away from the gas."
Later I notice he has put the pipe where I asked. It is very close to the gas mains, so close he has scraped off some of the paint installing it. Packing up his tools, he tells me he had a couple of beers at lunchtime and it "wasn't a good idea". He mops his brow with his shirt sleeve. I am not sure exactly what he means but I am more than cross. We have spent the afternoon in close proximity to a man who thought it was a good idea to have a couple of drinks before waving a flame thrower around near a flaky old gas mains that could blow us all to smithereens. I bite my tongue; I would quite like us to have running water.
Why I love Belgium
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