"Hot's on the left, cold's on the right and shit don't run uphill."
That's what my Father told me when I said I didn't want to help him with plumbing when I said it would be too hard. He assured me those three things were the only three I needed to know in order to start my, for lack of a better word, internship. Hard work, long hours, exposure to the elements -- Some of them man made if you catch my drift -- was what I to look forward to. 'Great,' I thought.
It's no secret that when most people think plumbing they think about all the nasty, unsanitary and cramped places you have to go; not to mention the "Plumbers Crack." And, really, can you blame them? For as long as I can remember I have seen, over and over, the plumber being stereotyped as such a disgusting person; a slob, if you will. I have to say, I never really understood it. It could be the fact that ever since I was about 9 years of age til I went off to college I helped my Grandpa and Father with their plumbing business. I mean, sure it's a tough job but, it paid well and now I have the knowledge for that trait that I wouldn't trade for the world.
Most people equate 'Plumber' with Toilet, Septic or, even worse, low fitting jeans commando style. I disagree (Even though I have been guilty of the latter...) and I hope to convince you of this. One of the first things you will need to do is learn about what tools are needed for which job. This entails you running back and fourth to the work van and the area in which you are working. . . a lot. Sometimes your work area will be under a house anywhere from 5ft to 35ft of crawlspace sizable to the playplace tubes you played in as a kid; only more arachnids. So the quicker you can learn what the right tools are for the job the easier it will be on your body. I'll save you some trouble, there is no such thing as a pipe stretcher.
Now you have to think about how this can relate to everyday life. Well, I think of myself as a pretty polite person. For that I can blame, mostly, my parents. Also, the plumbing business is more competitive than you would believe. So, in order to maintain our clientel my Father and Grandpa would tell me to be as polite as possible, that if you provide great service and customer service then by word of mouth you will get noticed by others. Reputation is key. Something that has followed me long after the last job I completed with my Dad.
You won't be able to cut it if you can't pay attention to detail and focus on mutiple tasks. One job in particular that I remember. My Dad and I were called to a house where they didn't have any water. Instictively we thought it could be only 2 things since there was no puddle in the basement or the yard and the water pump was getting power at the top of the well. It would either be a wire short or open or the pump could be bad. For those of you who do not know, your typical well can be anywhere from 50-750ft deep. Some even pass the 1200ft mark! This one happened to be ~240ft deep so not that bad. We pulled it out and checked the wires. Inch by inch I looked at the wires which are insulated by plastic then braided for strength. What you are looking for is wear in the plastic insulation to the point of exposed or almost exposed wire. I started at the top of the pipe as my Father checked the bottom. We met in the middle to no avail. We then decided to backtrack. Once again, inch by inch I checked the wire beneath a blanket of blistering heat. I snagged my finger on a sharp point of something hard. Metal. I found it; completely rubbed into. Once we repaired the break in the wire we droped the pump back in slowly and flipped on the power. Mission accomplished. Patiance is virtue.
Now I'm not saying you never have to deal with gross things while plumbing. I have had my share of replacing sewer pipe and uncloging toilets. I'm simply saying there is more than meets the eye. Throughout my entire career working in the plumbing industry I have learned so much about not only work ethic but ethics in general, how to interact with people and to try hard no matter what you do. It's not that bad once you get used to it and you only need to know three things to get on your feet, things that a wise man once told me: Hot's on the left, cold's on the right and shit don't run uphill.