Posted by: Lare | December 15, 2010

A Plumber’s Story

I’ve wanted to tell this story for some time now and part of my reluctance has been deciding whether it was appropriate for all audiences. With encouragement from my lovely wife Vicki, I’ll let you be the judge. About a year ago when we were Mazatlan I decided to make a set of filters I could use when filling our water tanks from the docks. Simple enough to do, I just needed the parts. Just outside of Mazatlan there’s a small town called Juarez, (pronounced WAH-rez), that is well-known for its public market. While on a shopping day there with Vicki I saw a store that specialized in the very things I was seeking. I can’t remember the name of the place, possibly at least in part because of what happened there that day.

Plumbers, or people who do plumbing, describe fittings being either “male” or “female”. I had always thought the reasoning for this was obvious but I’m not sure any more, so I will explain. A male fitting is described as such because it is meant to be inserted into an opening or another fitting referred to as female. You may be able to tell where this is going.

Sometimes I think my Spanish is pretty good but on regular occasions I re-discover how much I don’t know. On this particular occasion I chose to use some sign language to help communicate my needs. The making of the filter set of course required that I use a male fitting to interface with the female opening on the filter housing and I was having trouble communicating this to the clerk, who spoke very little English. This is where the sign language came in. Using my left index finger and thumb I formed what looks a bit like an “okay” sign–the key part being the opening in the middle that would represent the “female” or femenina. My right index finger served as representation of  the “male” or masculina fitting I wanted. In spite of my graphic description, (with motions), of the part I needed the clerk kept bringing me the wrong thing. It was after the third incorrect fitting that I noticed the other workers watching with great interest and finding the exchange very funny. I think they knew early on what I wanted. You know, the Mexican people have a great sense of humor…..

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