Bill Me

I woke up this morning (Sunday) to a text message from a friend that my house in TC had a minor flood happening in the basement. I was out of town, and she was looking over the place while I was gone, and noticed that there were several inches of water pooling around the low spot (and extending around to further parts) around a floor drain.

Normally the dehumidifier drains into that drain, but not much else. After sending my dad over to do some troubleshooting, I was pretty sure that we weren’t dealing with just a plugged floor drain, but rather the main sewer line.

Knowing that the longer that water sat down there the worse things would be, I started dialing local plumbing companies to see who could come out today. I figured I would be paying a premium to have someone come out on a Sunday afternoon to deal with this, and I was right.

About 45 minutes later the guys from Roto-Rooter pulled out a tangled mess of small tree roots that had apparently invaded the sewer line. The cost: $276. When the plumber called me back he said he’d email me an invoice and that I could call the office tomorrow, on Monday, and pay over the phone or drop a check in the mail.

There’s not really anything unusual about this situation, but I got to thinking about how much our society is built around trust. These guys came out, did the work, and trust that I’ll make the payment. They didn’t demand any kind of payment or deposit before doing the work. They didn’t even require that I pay while they were still at my house, right after completing the work.

These kind of transactions happen many, many times each day, and our society (and economy) would probably be far less efficient (at least on the front end) if we didn’t have faith that people will pay up in cases like this.

As much lack of trust as there may be in our culture and society, it’s reassuring that at least at a basic level in cases like these, trust still exists. We as a society still believe that people are inherently good.