Respect the Value You Provide

The public will always take for granted a little the important work that plumbers and drain cleaners do. Don’t do the same, and take a moment to reflect on the vital role you play for society.

Respect the Value You Provide

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The public sometimes has a hard time understanding what we do for a living.

People will wake up in a warm house, take a shower, shave, use the toilet, make some coffee, commute to work, eat lunch, gossip with co-workers, go home, water the garden, give the kids a bath, and repeat. We all do some variation of that for the most part, day in and day out.

Eventually, something happens to their plumbing system — maybe a drain clog or a water leak of some kind. You give them the bill and the cost is surprising to them. They complain about how you are committing highway robbery — $200 for a one-hour repair?

I once heard a news anchor say, “There is no profession which gets less credit for what they do than the CIA. They do so much to keep us safe, and when one dies, they get an un-named star on the headquarters’ wall.” I thought to myself, “We are the first and foremost line of defense for humanity as a whole, and when we die, nothing happens at all!”

There is no question that the public has decreased understanding of what we do for a living. But many newcomers to our industry also don’t fully understand the value of what we provide. They show up to work, do their jobs well, earn a great living for their family, and flow on with life as it comes. Let’s take a step back for a second and reflect.

The plumber is a cog in the system that provides clean, safe drinking water, as well as the treatment of sewage, returning it to the environment in the most responsible manner possible. Without water, life cannot exist on this planet. Nature, in itself, has its system of recycling water throughout its ecosystems, and if humans didn’t exist, the world would not need plumbers. Humanity is what ruins Mother Nature’s perfect system because we desire things like big industry to feed our infrastructure and way of life. Since humans are interrupting and corrupting Mother Nature’s cycle, we must fix the problem that we’ve created, and that’s where plumbers come in. We are, whether we want to be or not, the purest and most authentic environmentalists. We take what humankind is doing to the Earth and its water systems and make it right.

If you are relatively new to the trade, you should stop and think for a moment about the lineage and proud tradition you are a part of. Without people like you, there would be no morning shower, morning coffee, heat in the house, drinking water, toilet that conveniently makes waste disappear, hot water, water for the garden when it hasn’t rained in a few weeks, clean water to feed the chickens or the cows, water to brew the beer you have after work. Honestly, life simply wouldn’t exist at all. 

Plumbers have prevented a considerable amount of illness and disease. Humanity left alone without plumbers has proven disastrous too many times throughout history; do the research. It wasn’t that long ago when people would defecate in chamber pots and throw it out of the window of their home. Streets became lined with urine and waste, people dying from things like infectious disease and waterborne pathogens.

Does the public have a lack of understanding about our profession? Absolutely. But sometimes we do, too. We forget how important what we do is. Keep your head down and do the “work of the just” as I call it. Do the right things, not the easy things. Next time you run into that iffy situation where you brought a roll of 3/4-inch but you know the house should get a 1-inch line, make the extra trip and do it right. When your instructor is watching, do the right things. When co-workers or a foreman is watching, do the right thing. But when you are all alone, and you have to decide to put in what you have on the truck or make a trip and do it the right way, that is the true test of a real plumber. Our recognition comes from within. If you don’t take pride in the details, find another job.

About the Author

Anthony Pacilla is a registered master plumber for McVehil Plumbing in Washington, Pennsylvania. He has 23 years' experience in the plumbing and HVAC trades, and has a bachelor’s in business and economics from Thiel College.


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