A plumber’s trade

Our introduction to our plumber’s sportsman side came when he installed a tankless water heater for us, about a year and a half ago.

We’d only had the house for a few months when the seventies-era water heater, which we’d been warned about during the home inspection, crapped out. Enter Bob, the plumber recommended by the builder (also Bob) who rents an office to Kevin.

Bob the builder told us that Bob the plumber did excellent work, and knew a lot about tankless water heaters. When Bob the plumber came to take a look, he told us all about tankless water heaters, but he also told us that we lived on a great trout pond. He’s a fisherman, and he comes here all the time.

We knew it was a great trout pond, but we hadn’t yet had any success getting the trout out of it. We talked trout for a while, and let drop that we hadn’t caught one yet.

Bob installed the water heater (a Rinnai that we’ve been happy with once we got over the expectation that hot water would come out of the hot water faucet in the first forty-five seconds after you turn it on). When he dropped by with the bill, he also brought four beautiful rainbow trout, caught right in our backyard.

I’m sure he did this in part to soften the blow of a fairly substantial plumbing bill and in part because he’s just a nice guy. But I suspect there was also just a little bit of a sportsman satisfaction in having so many fish that he can afford to give four of them – count ‘em, four! – to the city slickers who bought the waterfront house but can’t hook a trout.

Bob’s certainly an excellent fisherman, and he seems to be an excellent plumber (judging by the leaklessness of the work he’s done for us). He’s also a hunter.

Bob’s main quarry is rabbits, and he has a stable of beagles he’s trained to hunt with him. When he found out that Kevin is also a hunter, they had a long talk about game and guns. Any discussion of guns naturally has an I’ll-show-you-mine-if-you’ll-show-me-yours component, and Kevin mentioned that we have a Remington 1100 semi-automatic .410 shotgun. It’s about 20 years old, in perfect condition, with a beautiful wooden stock.

Bob really likes that gun. He’d like to buy it, but Kevin also likes that gun, and is unwilling to sell. Lending, though, is another story, and Kevin has repeatedly told Bob that he’s welcome to borrow it any time he likes.

Yesterday, Bob took him up on the offer. He’s taking his son to their camp in Maine, and he asked if he could bring the Remington. But he didn’t just ask – he came bearing gifts.

I’d have been quite content with more trout but, this time, it was venison. I love venison.

Between Bob and his son, they’d shot six deer this past season. Six deer is a lot of venison, and Bob brought us two packs of steaks and a pack of sausage.

We’d have been happy to lend Bob the gun, venison or no venison, but the idea that we can trade its use for several dinners’ worth of wild game makes my day. Last night, we broiled the steaks in a cast-iron pan and served them with a wine sauce and potatoes roasted with Brussels sprouts.

I love barter almost as much as I love venison. Everyone should have a plumber like Bob.

7 people are having a conversation about “A plumber’s trade

  1. I don’t have a gun, and I don’t have a plumber, so no trout, and no venison. If I had a plumber like Bob, I’d get him to teach me how to get trout out of that pond.

  2. I have never had the least desire for a gun but if I could trade it for venison … might have to have a rethink!

  3. Great story..gotta get our men together..sorry we could not last weekend.. end of school vaction week was not the right time…but I think they would like each other very much…. mine loves to fish & hunt too.. too bad he has no time for either…and FYI.. Bartering is taxable… Call it horse trading….that is NOT taxable…

  4. Paula — I’m happy to report that we’ve gotten much better at trout fishing since those days. Bob gave us a few tips, but it was Dominic, the Zen Master of Trout, who really got us going.

    Sarah — Guns have never appealed to me, either, but I’m slowly coming to terms with them.

    Beth — I’ll be more careful with my terminology! I can’t be having the IRS coming after my venison.

  5. A good plumber who not only shows up but also delivers food…a New Yorker’s dream come true! That venison looks deeelish.

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