It all started with a ’67 Chevy Nova. Tommy Simpson and his dad were working on Tommy’s car when a neighbor came by and asked Tommy if he could help her with a perplexing plumbing situation. Tommy was able to take care of the problem, and the seeds were planted. His father was a contractor, so it was not totally puzzling to see an old commode on their front porch. Tommy took it completely apart, put it back together, and then ran a garden hose into it to simulate flushing. His dad was amazed at Tommy’s ability, and voila– a new profession was born for Tommy.
The father of his girlfriend-at-the-time built houses, and so Tommy started doing plumbing commercially in the 1980’s. He was advised to get his plumbing license, and he did just that. He spent 20 years as a general contractor, but then something happened. He suffered a heart attack that really slowed down his work. Consequently, he had two stints put in–and then it was back to business as usual.
Nowadays, Tommy works mostly on the residential front. Among his many services, he offers the fixing and/or replacing of water heaters, (“They’re only good for about six to eight years–the hard water elements can be corrosive”), can run gas and water lines, replace toilets and faucets, attend to under house drainage systems, does new home installation, and of course, unclogs pipes.
Tommy has had some interesting encounters over his many years as a plumber. For example, he was called to one home where the sink was completely torn away from the wall and water was going everywhere. As it turns out, a painter had used the sink as a “ladder” and that was the consequence. In another scenario, a lady called on him because her toilet would not flush. That’s because the toilet was completely broken in half! He had the opportunity to be “Super Plumber”, and save the day when a frantic woman called to say her wedding ring had gone down the drain. He was able to get the ring out and back on the grateful woman’s finger in short order. What else has he found in drains? Toys, paper, and toothbrushes. “Lots of toothbrushes,” he mused, but he could not speculate why. Among his many “reworks” from other plumbers’ jobs, he has seen the hot and cold reversed, pipes installed incorrectly, and those that go to “nowhere”.
When asked if he was planning on retiring anytime soon, he laughed and said, “Heck no! I’ve got another good twenty years in me!” Then he added, “I’ll work until I drop and I’ll retire when I’m dead.” He may or may not have been joking!
Tommy and his wife, plus their soon-to-be-married son, live in Mint Hill in a ranch style home that Tommy actually built himself. As a long standing resident, he has seen many changes. “So many more people and so many more houses. But that means more opportunities to do plumbing,” he said optimistically.
Despite the occasional frustrations on the job, Tommy says he really enjoys what he is doing. “When I go out to a house, it feels as if I am really helping people. It never gets old; it is always a new adventure.