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Widow’s Discount?

I was replanting my herb garden on Friday – the rosemary and sage had suffered over the winter, and I wanted some more thyme and chives. I filled up the watering can to give the plants a good watering-in, and realised I had a problem. The outside tap wouldn’t turn off! It felt like the thread was stripped – it would go from fully on to trickling, but if I kept turning it in the same direction, instead of shutting off, it went back to fully on. Drat! I tried turning it off at the valve under the sink, but that had seized open and was too stiff for me to turn. Double drat!

I tried phoning my usual plumber. On Good Friday. Some hope! He’d apparently gone away for the weekend. I tried my back-up plumber. No reply there either. With a heavy heart I got out the Yellow Pages and looked under “Emergency Plumbers”, knowing that if I wanted to call a plumber out over the Easter weekend then I should expect to get ripped off. I made it very clear that it was not a dire emergency, and that I really didn’t need anyone straight away, but that I could do with someone to replace the outside tap sooner rather than later. We agreed on Saturday morning, and with some trepidation I asked the price. It was high, but not as bad as it would have been if I’d wanted someone straight away. However, I was told that they do a 5% discount for OAPs, and asked whether I qualified! I laughed and said no, but did they offer the same discount for widows? I don’t think they’d been asked that before, but after some thought, the man said yes, that would be fine, and we agreed on the price.

I was told to expect the plumber at 10am this morning. At 10:30, when there was no sign of him, I phoned again and was told that he was on his way and would be about 30 minutes. At 11:15 I got a call from the plumber saying that he was eight miles away and heading in my direction. I then got a series of increasingly desperate calls from him, saying that he was lost, thought he was heading in the wrong direction, his satnav couldn’t find me, and where was I exactly? That’s another problem with using one of those “emergency plumbers” from out of the Yellow Pages – they cover such a huge catchment area that they simply don’t have the local knowledge of a Malvern-based plumber. I finally managed to talk him in to within half a mile of me, and ended up going out onto the main road and waving so that he’d be able to see me as he drove past!

I’m sure I was well and truly ripped off on price, even with the widow’s discount! But I do at least have an outside tap that works again. I don’t in general like playing the “grieving widow” card, but sometimes it’s worth swallowing my pride and seeing if it makes a difference. After all, if Christopher had been alive, he might have been able to turn the valve under the sink to isolate the tap, and the job could have waited until our usual (much cheaper!) plumber was back from his holidays.