I once knew a man named Joe, who wanted to be a plumber.
This in and of itself is not that interesting, but the sadness of this story lies in how he got exactly what he worked for.
Joe had always been a fan of plumbing and sewage and systems and tools of the trade (probably since high school) but he didn’t find out that plumbing was his calling until his twenties. At that point, Joe began to behave like a prospective plumber. He read voraciously every kind of book on plumbing that he could get his hands on. He almost attended a few plumber’s conferences but he thought they were too expensive. He set up a blog, facebook account, twitter account and an email Joetheplumber [at] plumbers [dot] com. This was all so he could attract fellow plumber hopefuls and those who would one day need his services. It was also so that when the huge corporations needing a plumbing company began pounding on his door, he would look legit.
At night when he went to bed he dreamed about the tv interviews of famous news people asking him how his company had grown so big so fast, why no one had done plumbing the way he had before. He could see himself on stage at national conventions, with a huge projector screen behind him, talking to an overflowing room of people eager to hear what he had to say. They’d queue up afterwards to gush over him and he would be forever turning down requests because he was just too busy.
He had a day job, of course, but deep inside he knew his calling was plumbing.
When he became a real plumber, he’d have money to do all the things he wanted to do.
When he became a real plumber, he’d have respect and credibility from his peers.
During the week, after his day job, he spent a few hours here and there actually plumbing. Most days he was too tired though. Or friends came over distracting him. And although Joe set up his social media, he never really posted anything. Nothing he came up with at least. He was pretty good at re-tweeting other plumbers‘ stuff, especially the funny ones. Joe set a goal to blog and for a whole week he put up three posts but when the crowd didn’t come running he decided to try something else. But he forgot about it.
Each day he told himself that tomorrow the stars would align and he’d make a giant step towards his dream of plumbing in the big time. His desperate wish would be recognized just by wanting it. He could visualize it so well, it was almost in his hands.
He kept working his day job and dreaming, and once in a while when another obscure plumber filled his news filters Joe would re-dedicate himself to plumbing. He’d announce to his family and friends that this time he was serious. This time he was a real plumber. And he practiced plumbing. It was a bit mundane, the same room, the same thing every day. He wanted something bigger, more important than going through crap. He just wanted to get into the big time so badly, every small step was one step too small.
I caught up with my friend Joe five years after I first met him. We met for lunch down the street from his day job office. He told me the dream is still there, it just doesn’t feel like the right time. Once things ease up at work he’s going to re-dedicate himself. Once he and his girlfriend finish building their home he’ll have the extra bathroom he’s been waiting for so that he can have the right space to practice in. A plumber is only as good as his plumbing conditions of course. He still knows he’s a better plumber than so many others out there.
“One day that will be me,” he said to me as his cell phone rang. “One day.”
*image wikicommons HERE