After the ‘snow-pocalypse’ that Texans went through, we should all have a newfound appreciation for the plumbers of the world.
Speaking of which, to honor World Plumbing Day on March 11th, we talked to Amazon best-selling author Abby Ross. “The Poop Diaries” highlights stories from plumbers and some of their hair-raising experiences.
First-time author Ross spent two years interviewing plumbers across America. “The Poop Diaries,” was listed as the #2 (no pun intended) new release on Amazon in the humor and business section, and quickly became a #1 Bestseller.
The nonfiction book features stories from plumbers about their “greatest hit” service calls and all the interesting people they’ve met. In the stories you’ll read of plumbers who have found snakes, sex toys, weapons, ghosts, mice, drugs, squirrels and so much more.
Stories of plenty of peculiar people fill this Austinite’s pages, such as a client who refused to get out of the shower while the plumber fixed the drain. Or a woman who stayed in bed as the plumber changed the air conditioner unit directly above her. One female plumber even broke up a marriage after what she had found in a client’s home. But we won’t spoil too much!
While the book is humorous, it also captures the honor of being a plumber. All of the plumbers interviewed have built successful, stable businesses–many without a college degree. As the book explains, plumbing is a career that withstands all economic storms.
With all this in mind, we wanted to learn more about Abby Ross and how she came to write “The Poop Diaries.”
After graduating from the University of Illinois, Ross landed a job as a television news reporter in Fayetteville, Arkansas. “My favorite part was storytelling,” she says.
Ross worked as a television news reporter for six years. In Fayetteville, she not only worked on the English-speaking newscast, but also launched the station’s first Spanish newscast, where she produced, wrote and anchored the entire show.
While the talented journalist’s career grew, she started a job at an NBC affiliate, where she even got to interview former president Barack Obama one-on-one.
Going on to be a crime reporter in Oklahoma, Ross reported stories in a chopper from the sky. “The stories I covered, however, were so disturbing that some of the really bad ones still haunt me today.” After some spooky interactions and chilling emails Ross received, she realized that being on the crime beat was not the path for her.
After a move to New York City, Ross landed a job working for a public relations agency. During this time, Ross also met her husband, Dennis, and once she was pregnant with their first son, Felix, decided to move back home to Chicago. That move was followed by the birth of Heller, her second son.
The Chicago move prompted another job search, in which Ross interviewed with at least 100 companies, finally finding her fit in cybersecurity work. “Every day was a challenge. Every day I learned something new. I felt like I was helping the world overcome a complex problem that we are still battling today,” this talented jack-of-all-trades says.
John the Plumber
Finally, after a toilet clog and an interaction with the chatty plumber, John, Abby Ross knew she had to write a book about him. After penning his story, she decided to find more plumbers to interview. From there flourished a collection of stories sure to crack a smile. This led to “The Poop Diaries.”
Ross gave us a peek into her favorite part of the book. “I love the chapters that feature women plumbers, especially chapter two with Carissa. A female’s perspective brings an entirely different layer of humor and seriousness to the book. Her stories are fantastic. They range from breaking up a marriage to squirrel battles to uncomfortably long hugs.”
In February 2020, right when COVID-19 hit, the book was released on Amazon. The pandemic made marketing the book tricky, Ross explains, and also changed how her family wanted to live. “I had visited Austin many times in the past and always loved it.” So, in the summer of 2020, the family put their Chicago home on the market and made the move to the ATX.
“I have learned that the people here in Austin are also very warm and welcoming. Even during COVID-19, friends invited us to hang out in their yards,” says the new Austinite. “Our kids love their schools. We also rescued a puppy. I have no regrets.”
As for some of her favorite local spots, Ross says, “We haven’t ventured out much, but we really enjoy The Grove, Cho Sushi, Cups and Cones, local breweries and distilleries and of course, and our UTGC restaurant. We are there frequently. When COVID-19 settles down, I really want to try John’s boxing gym. We also love the pools! Bella Mar is our neighborhood favorite.”
Finally, Ross discussed some future plans. “I am trying to turn “The Poop Diaries” into a scripted television series. It’s a long shot but I believe in that book and will not give up.”
Cover photo courtesy Abby Ross
Gracie Watt is the Editorial Intern at Texas Lifestyle Magazine and a junior at St. Edward’s University in Austin, studying Journalism. When she’s not writing, Watt enjoys singing, playing the guitar and doing volunteer work. @gracie.whatt