An uncomfortable ten minutes with a plumber

This week we had a visit from a plumber. It doesn’t happen often because I’m more of the ‘wrap something around it to absorb the leak’ school of thought, but the cupboard under our sink was a little past that. I share this story as a way to make you feel better about any awkward moments you may have had with tradespeople.

So, he arrived.

‘The sink is over here,’ I said, already feeling like a goon because he is a plumber and if he can’t recognise a sink then really, what’s the point?

‘Thanks,’ he said, ‘let’s take a look.’

Now this, I appreciate now, was the moment where I should have offered him a cup of tea. However, I knew it was going to be a quick job, and I was wary of that whole awkward ‘you’ve made me this tea so I’m going to have to drink it but it’s actually scalding my throat’ scenario.

So I hesitated.

When you hesitate in a situation like this then that’s it, you’re finished. You can’t offer a plumber a cup of tea when they’re nearly finished – that would be like me coming into the room in stockings, carrying a Cosmopolitan in a sexy way. (How do you actually do that? Cocktail glasses are very easy to spill.)

Okay, so he doesn’t get tea. I can style that out. 

He goes out to his van to get some tools. What do I do now? I don’t want to have left the room while he is gone, that feels weird, but I also don’t want to just be standing there in the middle of the kitchen, waiting, so I sit down on a dining chair and have a look at my phone.

He comes back in. I finish the email I’ve been writing.


He is under the sink and I am sat in silence on a dining chair.

It’s weird.

I hesitate again though, and there, I’m stuck in the chair. I can’t leave now can I? That would be odd. But I can’t really make small talk about the sink, especially as his head is underneath it. So I sit some more in silence, as though I’m an invigilator in an exam. I send a few more emails, mainly to avoid looking up and accidentally making eye contact. I feel like the whole thing has gone too far and speaking now would just draw attention to the preceding silence.

Eventually he finishes, and I look up and smile casually, as though I’d forgotten he was there and I always sit like that in the kitchen.

‘What is it you do then?’ he asks as he gets out his forms.

Oh God no. 

I hate this question, especially when it comes from sensible grown up people in their sixties who have real professions, like plumbing. I consider making something up, but I’m not a good liar.

‘I write a blog,’ I say.

He looks confused, but doesn’t say anything. I’m so exhausted by the stress of the whole ‘sitting in silence in the dining chair’ thing that I can’t even explain. I just leave it hanging silently while I sign the paperwork and show him out.

Next time I’m just going to wrap something around the leak.

awkward moment with a plumber

Image – Emanuele Ravecca/shutterstock.



  1. Sam
    20 January, 2017 / 3:24 pm

    I admit I hate being home when there is work happening! I try to leave for when my husband is home, as he never has awkward silences and weird moments. If it is a cold day, he’ll offer a hot beverage, if super hot, he offers cold, and sends them on their way with something icy for their van. I just try and tip toe around.

  2. 20 January, 2017 / 9:20 pm

    I’m smiling as I read this but only because that is me. I never know what to say to them and I’m useless at small talk.

  3. 22 January, 2017 / 7:55 am

    Hahaha this made me chuckle! I’ve been in many a situation like this. Best cure was running a retail business for 5 or so years – always calling contractors and tradespeople in for one thing or another, you soon become acclimatised to tradesperson chat! Very funny x

  4. Spencer Broadley
    24 January, 2017 / 6:12 am

    Oh dear, poor you. When tradespersons come round I automatically offer them a coffee or tea and then say something like “I’ll leave you to it. You don’t want me hanging around – you know what you’re doing. If you need anything I’ll be in the front room” That leaves you free from them and they can get on with the job while you are out of their hair. Maybe you should take that approach in future. All the best.

  5. 7 February, 2017 / 7:19 pm

    Unless you know them, never leave them alone in the house. Appear interested in what they’re doing and learn. It also costs a lot of money and it might just be tightening up a nut, next time? Buy a mixed tool set! Love the blog!

    • Jo Middleton
      8 February, 2017 / 11:56 am

      Good point! Maybe I should ask if I can video them – make my own resources? ;-)

  6. 7 March, 2017 / 4:03 pm

    A septic tank, in particular, requires regular clean out by a professional pumping company.

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