If you name your son Mario in Italy, it seems you are writing his destiny to be a plumber. I’ve met four plumbers in the last two months and three of them have been called Mario. One of them actually looked like Super Mario with the same moustache and twinkly eyes and smile.
I got quotes from several plumbing companies for the work to be done in the house. All were similar in price but the contract went to the company which can do plumbing and electrics, could start immediately and have the work finished by mid November. I chose well, I signed the contract on a Friday and there were six guys working in the house on Monday.
The manager of the business is Danny Boy, he’s young and looks like he constantly has a migraine or hung over. My chief plumber is called Mario. He’s great so I call him Super Mario. He has about 100 words of english and I still have only about 300 words in Italian so google translate comes in handy. However, looking back on the texts sent between us on the first day the possessive tense tends to come in at the wrong time.
On the Monday evening that they started work, he texted me and through google translate I answered, this is how the conversation went translated back into English:
Super Mario: I need to meet with the geometra asap, otherwise we can’t continue.
Me: What is the problem?
Super Mario: It is a serious problem with the drainage of the sewerage there is no pit. You only have an old small hole.
I try not to take offence.
Me: I think you are looking at my old hole which is no longer in use? It was there before the house was connected to the public system. The house is on the public sewerage (black water) system, I was reassured this several times when I was buying the house.
Super Mario: Are you sure?
Me: Well that is what I was told, I’m quite sure my old hole is no longer in use.
Super Mario: Tomorrow we meet at 8.30am with the geometra, as we cannot continue without knowing if your old hole to the rear is still being used.
Again I try not to be offended.
So at 8.30am I arrive. There were four guys standing around staring into the old hole in the back garden. I have only met Danny Boy, and I don’t know which one is Mario.
I walk up beside them and stare into the hole, there is a hose filling it with water. Danny Boy arrived shortly after, I didn’t recognise him as it was the first time I saw him without a mask and didn’t realise he had a beard.
My anxiety to find a solution to this problem which could cost thousands makes me forget that none of the guys around starring at my hole know who I am.
“Ahh she is the owner!” says a stocky guy with a great face in Italian, who turns out to be Mario. They all laugh, I didn’t realise that none of them knew who I was, other than just some randomer who walked in off the street who is not responding to their questions, just smiling and nodding.
“Have you put water down the toilet pipe?” I ask in broken Italian.
“Yes it arrived here. But there is another pipe out of this pit so they will fill it with water and try to find where that goes,” says Danny Boy.
It looks like it is heading towards the lake. This could be costly. Very costly.
We’re all walking around the garden looking for something that might be a cover to an opening of another mysterious hole I might own and eventually Mario sees a concrete step between us and the neighbours fence with what looks like a potential lid. After much effort they lift the lid and there it is: water running from a pipe that is in the direction of my old hole. There is also a feed in from the neighbours garden and then between the two pipes a larger concrete pipe that runs back up between the two houses on my side out towards the road. Relief, the house is on the mains sewerage.
Mario reassures me that my old hole is still in perfect shape, I do not need to replace it, it will work perfectly again in the future as old holes were built to last, they are much better than new holes.
The only problem is that the pit, or my old hole as it is now fondly known as, is in the position where I dreamed of eventually putting a pool. Maybe we could combine the two and have some therapeutic mud bath?