Posted by: A Part of the Solution | February 17, 2010

Why I’m Going to Hell

I’m not the nicest person in the world; but that’s not why. I’m not always the most reliable person in the world; but that’s not why. I’m not without stain and blot on my character; but that’s not why. I’m not free of sins of omission or commission; but that’s not why.

The reason is shrouded in the long ago and far away past. I was young. Though everybody has been at one time or another in their lives. I was desperate. Yet showing good judgment in times of desperation often separates the behavioral sheep from the proverbial goats. There is no excuse–not for what I lived with and contributed to. I guess I should just come out with it. Confession is good for the soul, right?

When I was an illegal alien living in London in the early nineties (another story, really), I found affordable housing in an unlikely location. I was working as a pub cook for minimum wage and one of the regulars at the pub (like Cheers, but with an accent) had a room for rent.

He was a plumber. He was an emergency plumber. He was an unlicensed plumber in one of the three most expensive post codes in London. And he was a raging, near functional, full-time drunk (hi, Tony!).

His flat was in Chelsea (think Soho in NYC or Georgetown in WDC). He had two floors for a pittance, since he’d grabbed a twenty-five year lease in the early 70’s before Chelsea was swank. He’d put in the indoor plumbing himself, years before I came on the scene. The bath was HUGE. I could float in it with my toes pointed. It had a fill depth of 18″. Britain hadn’t started metering water at that time. And there was always enough HOT water too, since Tony’d pirated the gas line.

In general, the British prefer baths to showers. Tony required access to a bath at all times, since he might be called out in the middle of the night to deal with other people’s unspeakable occurances. His solution was to fit a PVC pipe into the drain of the bath, about one and a half inches below the rim of the tub. Then he turned the taps on and let that sucker run. All the time. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Really.

If one used the bath, one was instructed to drain it, clean it, set the pipe back in and get it running–good and hot. Big as it was, the bath took a long, long time to fill. In a twisted way, it made sense to have it good to go all the time.

I took to having one or two baths a day. I invited friends over to have a bath on the house. I had trouble sleeping as I listened to the rush and gurgle of the bath upstairs. But it wasn’t my house, and they weren’t my rules. And I didn’t move out in protest.

So when I go to Hell, there may be other contributing factors on my tab by then. But the real reason will be that enormous, ongoing waste of water to which I was a silent, consenting party.



  1. You won’t burn in Hell, but you’ll probably drown.

    • It would be just the Dantean retribution for me.

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