How to Communicate with Your Maintenance Crew: a lesson in poetry


Last week, our kitchen sink stopped draining.

After a short-lived experiment which my husband and I dubbed Operation How Long Can We Live On Pizza (often confused with Operation Ignore The Problem And Maybe It Will Go Away), Little Caesars said “Thank you for your business, but you’ve eaten our entire stock.  Please call your building’s maintenance crew so you can start cooking with and washing your damned dishes.”  We considered switching over to McDonalds, but decided that maybe we do have standards, after all.

We called our maintenance crew.

This is the emailed response I received today.

I received your message this morning regarding your kitchen sink clog
Please see pictures above, on what happens years and years people uses drain-O 
or drain cleaner
These pipes are behind your wall
Never use drain-O or plunger, that make it worsen
Standing water is not a good sign
We could attempt it with air pressure gun, for $ 25
But no guarantees or warrantees
Also we will not be responsible at all to puncture your pipes, under the sink 
or behind the wall
Please let me know

At first I reread it for informational clarity’s sake.  And then I reread it for a laugh.  And then… it became something else entirely.  It now occurs to me that this email, aside from being a very compelling anti-Drano ad, is pregnant with poetic potential.  As written, it reads almost like a Ginsberg free-form.  But with a little love and a few more line breaks, what else might it become?



I received your message today

Regarding your kitchen sink drain

We’d attempt an air gun

But broken pipes are no fun

Glad you asked anyway


Iambic Pentameter



I receiv’d this morning your request that we,

The Maint’nence Crew, come care for your sink drain.

I hope that you’ll take care to view the photos

Attachèd to this note: this is what comes

Of years and years of ignorants (not you!)

Who seek to fix the drains themselves.  Who plunge

(Or else pour Drano down) their precious pipes,

Their chrome insides corroding.  We hope that you

Have made not one attempt to do these things.

Standing water, how’er, is no good sign,

And we will attempt to save you from this clog

Without doing damage to your pipes.  That said,

We make no promises that we will fix a thing,

And you should know that we will charge, no matter

How this goes.  You also cannot sue us

If we do flood your place, or if by chance

We ruin your whole wall.  We hope that’s clear.

Please call us at your leisure, and we shall do

The same.


                     O, what are the chances that

Our kitchen we can use tonight?


                                                               Not good.


O woe!


             ‘Tis so.


                          We’ll ne’er rent again!



Still water is bad

But so is Drano, you know

We charge $25



I hope he gets published someday.

2 thoughts on “How to Communicate with Your Maintenance Crew: a lesson in poetry

  1. Pingback: Log: Friday, 5.12.17, 1:49pm – Vagabond Homebody

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