Sunday, October 22, 2006

And exactly what was so bad about outhouses?

Toilets and I, we have issues. Not that I don't like using them -- I was only kidding about outhouses, really -- but sometimes they plot against me, and now they're after my daughter as well. Last weekend we went to some people's house for brunch. I'd met them briefly once or twice -- Ben knew them from elsewhere and they were super nice. Which is why it was a tad embarrassing to report to the man of the house that my four-year-old daughter had managed to clog their toilet. Yes, folks, she has talent, as we have documented. It gets worse; this family does not own a plumber's helper. I'm not even going to discuss what I did to try (unsuccessfully) to solve the problem. I offered to go back to our house and fetch one, but the Man tut-tutted and headed into the bathroom. Silence, followed by some disturbingly vigorous sounds, and then a triumphant flush and gurgle. Turns out he had employed the toilet brush in ways not recommended by the manufacturer. Exactly how, I don't know; I was in the hallway twisting a handkerchief in my sweaty hands. Well, at least I know what to give them for Hanukkah.

This was not the first time, however. There was the memorable episode in the bathroom of the house I grew up in. I must have been in my early teens at the time. So I'm concluding things in the usual way; I had pressed the toilet flush lever and was now shaking a large can of Lysol spray. Well, guess what. The cap wasn't on securely and it flew off -- right into the toilet. Ha ha. Except that the bowl was almost empty and there was considerable negative pressure, meaning the cap was sucked into the pipe beneath. And the cap's circumference was about two microns smaller than that of the pipe. And plumber's helpers push things farther in, which was definitely no help at all. So I had to confess to my father, who retired into the john muttering but not overly concerned, until he realized the extent of the problem, which ultimately required him to unscrew the toilet from the floor, hoist it up, carry it outdoors and attack the pipe full-bore from both ends with various bits of metal and other devices. Fortunately he remembered to turn off the water first, or things could have gotten really ugly. But it was ugly enough seeing our trusty commode lying unnaturally on its side like a cow giving birth. All ended well, I'm happy to report, though I don't think my father ever believed me that the whole thing was truly an accident that just happened to require exquisite timing on my part.

Why do I bring up all these painful memories now? Because the issues are still dogging me. Today at work I used the rest room upstairs, one of two self-contained bathrooms shared by about 30 people (no stalls, thank God). I kicked the flush handle just the way I always do, and the toilet seemed to function perfectly, except that there was still some toilet paper visible afterwards. and no, I did NOT use an excessive amount. I'm very sensitive to these things, though not as frugal as some people I know (more than one, both males) who insist that four folded squares is all you need. Anyway, the water in this toilet has a way of swirling over and over rather than just going straight down, so this isn't the first time this had happened. So I flushed again. Same result. And again -- ditto. And yet again, this time with feeling. Except this time, the toilet didn't stop flushing. You know how those commercial things are -- there's no tank but high-pressure water seems to come from somewhere. And it's loud when it's flushing, especially when it goes on and on. Plus some water was leaking onto the floor from somewhere. Well, there was no sneaking away, so I mustered what dignity I could and informed the office manager, who happened to be standing right outside. Presumably the repair and maintenance folks will fix the problem before water starts dribbling on the desks of people with offices on the floor below.

We're finally about to start work on our "forever house" as the kids call it, and of course at some point we'll have to select appliances. I'm thinking turbo-charged.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your toilet adventures remind me of a few of my own toilet blunders. The turbo-charge looks nice. *wink*

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