Another Joe The Plumber Gives His Estimate
SCOTT SIMON, host:
Hi, is this Joe the Plumber?
Mr. JOE FRANCIS (Proprietor, Joe the Plumber, Amarillo, Texas): Yes, sir.
SIMON: You probably heard by now that the Joe the Plumber that got cited during the McCain-Obama debate, well, his first name isn't really Joe, and, in fact, he's not a licensed plumber. But we decided to get an opinion on the economy and the election for, if you please, the real Joe the Plumber, Joe Francis. He owns a small business in Amarillo, Texas, that's called Joe the Plumber. And in fact it's a well-known Web site at this point, joetheplumber.com. Mr. Francis, thanks for being with us.
Mr. FRANCIS: Thank you.
SIMON: So, phone been ringing off the hook?
Mr. FRANCIS: Yes, still is.
SIMON: People saying, I know you're in Texas, but I'm in Maine. I'd like you to repair my toilet.
Mr. FRANCIS: Yeah.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. FRANCIS: It's been - I've been trying to sort through about 800 emails this morning, but it seems they were coming in just about as quick as I can get rid of them, so.
SIMON: Eight hundred emails, my gosh.
Mr. FRANCIS: Over the past few days.
SIMON: Has any of this been good for business? I mean, people who say, can you do a job for me? Or has it mostly been just curiosity?
Mr. FRANCIS: It's just been a lot of curiosity and a lot of joke stuff, you know, which is funny. It's - I think we just got a call, they said they want me on "Whose Line Is It Anyway," so.
SIMON: So, we're not the first to call, huh?
Mr. FRANCIS: Oh, no.
SIMON: Yeah, I figured. I can tell by all the buzzing in the back. May we ask, though, while we're on the subject, how is business?
Mr. FRANCIS: It's good.
SIMON: Yeah, I guess people have plumbing problems whether they're doing well economically or not.
Mr. FRANCIS: Right. That's kind of one of those things you have to get fixed, kind of like going to the doctor or something. I mean, you just got to do it.
SIMON: But have you had to make some economies in your business?
Mr. FRANCIS: We've - we have just a little bit, you know, here and there with the economy. I'd be honest with you, it doesn't faze us too much because, you know, about the last thing we had to do was when the fuel went way up, you know, we had to take a rate increase, but that's about it.
SIMON: OK. Did you watch the debate?
Mr. FRANCIS: Yes, I did.
SIMON: And what did you think when you kept hearing Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber?
Mr. FRANCIS: Well, I mean, I knew they weren't talking about me, so I wasn't - I mean, it was cool because that's the name of my company, so I thought that was kind of neat, but I never expected it would just go like national like it did, so.
SIMON: May I ask, have you decided who you're going to vote for?
Mr. FRANCIS: I'm kind of leaning towards McCain. I mean, I'm not - I hate to say, but, you know, I try to stay neutral for business purposes. You know, you don't want to step on anybody's toes.
SIMON: Yeah. I mean, even people voting for Ralph Nader need plumbers, right?
Mr. FRANCIS: Right, exactly.
SIMON: Have you seen this other Joe the Plumber guy?
Mr. FRANCIS: I've seen pictures of him, yeah.
SIMON: Yeah. You think he looks like a guy who can do the job to you?
Mr. FRANCIS: Oh, I'd hate to be the judge of that. I mean, there's a lot of plumbers out there named Joe too, so.
SIMON: I'm told when this debate was held you were on a hunting trip.
Mr. FRANCIS: I was headed to Colorado, yes. And then when all of this kind of went down, then I had gotten a rental car, sent the guys on with my truck. And I'm hoping I can kind of put everything back together today and then head back up there this evening.
SIMON: Yeah, but you've got phone calls and emails to handle.
Mr. FRANCIS: I'm working on it.
SIMON: Mr. Francis, nice talking to you.
Mr. FRANCIS: OK. Thank you, sir.
SIMON: Joe Francis, owner of Joe the Plumber in Amarillo, Texas. And this is NPR News.