Day Writing: The parts run | TSLN.com

Day Writing: The parts run

She didn't volunteer to get parts. She did need milk, and was thinking of squeezing a trip to town into the next day or so. She had even gone so far as to pencil in a couple other stops that would catch her up. But, the water line broke, and she was nominated to get parts, now.

After a quick appraisal of what was on hand, a PVC concoction consisting of between eight and 45 pieces was deemed the solution. And so long as she was going in, the tractor battery would never survive next week's forecasted cold spell, the bill at the feed store needed paid and the dog was almost out of food, which was conveniently purchased at the same store as a lengthy list of items necessary to the future of the operation. But, hurry home.

Off she went, after haphazardly gathering up the toddler and his diaper bag, praying silently the town only one hour away had everything needed for the water breakdown while simultaneously eyeing the clock and doing the math until nap time. The toddler fell asleep two minutes from the first stop. She gathered him up and bee-lined it to the PVC aisle, list of possible options in hand. Two-thirds of the way through assessing what the store had on hand and how it would best go together in a way least likely to make her husband mad, an older, male sales associate descended.

He asked if he could help, and after quickly weighing the options (she had been through this before), she asked if he had a certain piece that would take her from a dozen fittings to 10. He asked what she was working on, then dove into a dissertation on the history of PVC, and that she should not use white as it couldn't possibly be rated high enough for what she had started to tell him. He stepped to the grey fittings, grabbed a reducer, held it up, and told her it was a reducer, male to male, threaded. He then proceeded to equally explain bushings, couplers, nipples, elbows, threaded versus slick and male versus female.

Oblivious to the steam rolling out her ears and to the fact she was a woman who could teach a class on abstract PVC contortionism for farming and ranching applications, he continued his detailed explanation while putting together a setup that would make her husband pull his hair out. Happy with his completed product, he told her to take that home and she would save the day, and to be sure to tell her husband all she learned. He then asked if he can be of any further assistance, and she honestly answered no, not trusting herself to say more.

The instant he was out of sight, she plunked his concoction down in the cart to entertain the fussy toddler, and got back to work. It distracted the little guy from clearing any shelf within arm's reach for about 20 seconds. She hastily grabbed what she hoped would work, and nearly bit the head off the second employee who asked if she needed assistance, then felt bad. Finally, 45 minutes into a 10-minute job, she held a creation that closely resembled one of the sketches included in her list. At least she hoped so; the toddler had spent most of the employee's dissertation conspicuously shredding the list into a handful of spitballs.

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She unceremoniously plunked the employee's contraption on a shelf, eyed it, then selected a single piece from the middle, just in case, before heading for the checkout at breakneck pace. The sweet lady there asked if she found everything alright, and she replied that yes she had, eventually.

Later that afternoon, after finishing the list and nearly leaving town without milk, she arrived home with everything needed to save the day. Her husband took one look in the bag of fittings, and asked, "Why in the world did you get this?"

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