For the past week or two I had been trying in vain to get a hold of my plumber, George (briefly mentioned previously here), to finish up the new bathroom as we have finally tiled and such.
I tried and tried to leave him a message, but his voicemail said that he couldn't receive messages. I e-mailed, but got no reply. Finally today his phone let me leave a message, and I asked him to call me back so we could finish the bathroom and some other work that hadn't been done yet.
A few hours later, Serge, George's Russian apprentice, called me back. He left me a message, which I found odd as I usually talked directly to George.
When I called him back, he told me something that made me catch my breath.
He told me that George killed himself this past week. He shot himself.
Just like that.
When I was opening my restaurant, I somehow randomly ended up calling George to do our plumbing for the kitchen. The work was hard- a large portion of the floor had to be dug up for drain pipes, and the building's existing plumbing was a mess, to say the least. He and his guys did an amazing job, and considering how much work was involved and how long it took, we got a very fair deal with the price. Unlike the electrical, we never had any issues with the plumbing at that train wreck of a business venture.
I liked him- he was one of those straight-to-the-point people, which I always appreciate. I suppose that someone in a business where you have to give what are often very large dollar quotes to sometimes unreasonable people with sometimes unreasonable demands makes you that way. I felt like he was honest and just wanted to get the job done right the first time.
This is why, over the years, I have called him whenever I needed plumbing done at the house. If I feel I can trust someone, I will work with them as long as I can. They will always get my business, even if the guy down the street who I don't know will do it 20% cheaper.
George was a good guy. He had a sense of humor even when they had to rip my basement apart with a jackhammer to install pipes. He wouldn't let me help him haul out the rubble in what seemed like 4,675 5-gallon bucketfuls. If he said something was going to get done, I knew it would, eventually. I always thought he was kind of cute, truth be told.
I guess I don't know how one is supposed to feel when their plumber dies.
I feel bad for his family- Serge said that George and his wife had divorced a year or so ago, and I knew that he had four daughters. When he had finished work on the restaurant, my business partner and I told him to bring his family in for dinner on us, and one night he came in with his wife and family. His daughters were adorable and well-behaved, his wife seemed very nice.
He was young, too young- the same age my Mom was when she died- 44.
I'm not looking for a debate on suicide here, and I certainly don't think a "sorry for your loss" is in order as I really didn't know him, and really I'm not sure if I should even be thinking about this at all, but...
I am thinking about it and for some reason it bothers me. I know people's problems are often much larger than what anyone imagines, and I know that sometimes people can't be "saved", but it always breaks my heart to hear that a good, nice, valuable person felt such desperation and despair that they found this to be the only solution. It crushes my soul a little.
I guess all I can do is hope that his family can find a way to deal with this awful situation and eventually come to terms with it. I know first hand the chaos that ensues when someone dies suddenly- so many ends to tie up, so much unfinished...stuff. It can be overwhelming.
I hope they find some solace in a situation that- to me, seems incomprehensible.
Sorry you had to go, George. You'll be missed.