The waiting game

The waiting game

All you need is just a little patience, says PHPI editor (and Guns ‘n’ Roses fan) Stuart Hamilton.

Among the most common customer gripes about the trade (and there seem to be many, a large number of which have no basis in reality) is the fact that it can be really difficult to get hold of a plumber. The next time you’re listening – or at least pretending to listen – to just such a complaint, it might be worth mentioning the plight of the good people of Jackman, Maine. The town has a population of around 850 and its website lists moose watching as one of the region’s favourite ‘sports’. Essentially it looks exactly like the kind of North-East US place where tourists would flock to watch the leaves change colour in the Fall.

Jackman’s problem is that it doesn’t have a plumber. It did have one but he’s retired, and the nearest is now 50 miles away – which is proving somewhat inconvenient. According to school principal Denise Plante: “It can sometimes take weeks until we can find someone to respond.”

One of the big issues in the area is age, with nearly 20% of the population over 65. In an (apparently unintentional) homage to one of countless Bruce Springsteen songs, the Bangor Daily News reports that young people have left “as local paper mills and manufacturers have moved away”.

Rather than bemoan its bad luck, though, the town has come up with an enterprising solution. A $2,000 scholarship has been set up with funding from a local family to entice a plumber to the area. According to npr, Sheryl and Larry Harth – who run the scholarship fund – decided to focus it on plumbing once the void hit them acutely. They moved back to the area about two years ago and built a house, hiring a plumber who lived in the next town to work on the project. When they needed more work done, they were promised that that plumber would return. “Well, it’s been two years,” Larry says, “and we still have not seen that person.”

Interested apprentices are being given until next March to apply, which means it could yet be an uncomfortable winter for the inhabitants of Jackman. They’re obviously a patient bunch… a character trait that would be more than welcome in the households of Britain.

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