My dad and his brother owned a small plumbing business.
That sort of occupation doesn’t place you very high on the social register. Plumbers are usually looked down upon, most likely because they work with things like toilets.
When I was a child, I knew my father’s job wasn’t going to gain me any points with my friends. Even worse, one day my dad and uncle showed up during lunchtime on our school playground. Both of them filthy and sweaty, they were there to fix the drinking fountain.
I can’t begin to tell you how embarrassed I was. I hoped nobody in my class knew who they were. And I especially hoped my dad wouldn’t do something—like say “hello”—which was bound to diminish my already low standing with my classmates.
Fortunately for me, all the boys crowded around them, eager to watch these two grown men perform their magic and get the water flowing again. The girls just ignored them.
Whew! Disaster averted!
Anyway, that’s the way I felt back then. When I grew up, I learned to be proud of my dad and his field of work.
We in the modern age are so spoiled by clean flowing water that we take it for granted. This point was driven home to me by the drought in my home state of California and the mandatory water restrictions it brought.
[SIDENOTE: Whoever thought it would be fashionable to have a yellow lawn and a dirty car? Well, it is here!]
Imagine if you had to, like in Biblical times, draw your water from a well and cart it back to your house. What if all you had for a toilet was a latrine dug in the backyard? What if just taking a bath required an hour of work lugging water? What if you had to go down to the river and thrash your clothing against a rock to get it clean?
When I thought about it, I realized my father’s occupation has probably saved far more lives than the medical profession. Think how much disease we would have without the quick, clean method of sanitation water provides.
Water. Necessary for life, necessary for health. No wonder water was chosen by God for the sacrament of Baptism.
By the way, I ended up marrying a man whose occupation also doesn’t earn any social points.
I won’t identify what he did before he retired, but let’s just say he had a little something in common with Saint Matthew.