Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why A Working Toilet May Be Important

Please do not be frightened off by the title of my latest post. I assure you I will not speak specifically of any bodily functions, but this story is too good not to share.

Some of you were aware of my recent house purchase and the resulting search to find any "handyman" type who would actually call me back to do some work. Contractors, handymen and the like have unfortunately given themselves a bad name without any help from me. I'm not sure if this bad reputation is a result of a deficient marketing department or a faulty alarm clock, but either way, more often than not, my experiences have been less than stellar. Now, I don't mean the work is necessarily bad but the journey along the way can be painful. Take my good buddy and contractor Don. I've know him for about 19 years. We've been friends and along the way he finished my basement and remodeled the bathroom in my old house. What I knew about Don was this - his work is good, his prices reasonable and he likes to smoke and do Suduko puzzles while he works. I also knew he was working on the contractor calender and clock which meant if he was working on my schedule he could have finished the basement in the 5 weeks he promised but he was working on his, so it took about 8.

So when I bought my little crack house, as I so affectionately call it, and needed some work done, I knew I could call Don but I thought to myself, "Do I want to call Don?" But little annoying things kept happening like my basement flooded and I discovered a large hole in the wall. So I called Don. Ever the voice of handyman reason, Don assured me it was a simple fix and he'd be in town later in the week and would call me. Which never happened. After a few more floods, my friend Wendy (see earlier Spotlight Post) and I went to work and created a concrete ski slope masterpiece that protrudes out of my basement wall but has plugged the dam.

As time passed, the little things became more annoying like I needed a new toilet because the old one was old, smelled like pee and couldn't be cleaned. So I called Don again. The conversation was as follows:
C: Don, It's Carol.
D: Hi.
C: You never called me back.
D: I know.
C: Do you not want to do the work on my house because you can tell me no.
D: No, I'll do it.
C: Ok when?
D: Um, well I can come by tomorrow when you get home.
C: Ok - should I have the toilet and the door here?
D: Yes - You need to pick those things out yourself.
C: Ok - so I'll see you around 6 tomorrow.
D: Yep. Bye.

 6:45pm the next night

C: Don, it's Carol
D: Hi. I forgot to call you. I'm not coming over.
C: Ok - When are you coming over? Because now I have a toilet and a screen door in my living room.
D: You bought them?
C: You told me to.
D: Oh
C: So when are you coming over?
D: Monday. I promise.
C: Should I call you Sunday to remind you?
D: Yeah, you can.
C: Alright. Bye

As you can guess, I'm annoyed. But I decide if he blows me off again, I'll just find someone in the phone book. Well, it ends up, I see Don Saturday and remind him that I will be calling him to remind him to show up on Monday. Then I had an electrical issue on Sunday. So I call him and he agrees that I really should have the electrical looked at and says he'll be over in a few hours. And he shows up, which is impressive as a stand alone point. He troubleshoots the electrical issue and decides to bang out the toilet while he's there. It was a bit of a challenge since the old flange was rusted out, the wax ring needed to be bigger and the hose that connects the plumbing needed to be longer. But he did it just as I had to leave to go to my mom's house. I asked him to lock up and as I'm walking out the door I hear him say "Shoot." I say "What?" He says "I just turned the water to the toilet on and its slow." I say "Is that a problem?" He says "No, not really." And I leave.

Fast forward 2 days, I'm in the bathroom and flush the toilet. I brush my teeth, blow my nose, throw the tissue in the toilet and flush again. Nothing happens. I assume that the chain has come off and open the back of the toilet. There is about an inch of water back there. I wait about 10 minutes, try again, nothing. I wait another 10 minutes, check the back of the toilet and again only see an inch of water. I then realize, this must be what my good buddy Don meant by slow to fill. But he certainly couldn't have thought that was ok? Right? So I call him.

C: Don, It's Carol.
D: Hi Carol. What's up?
C: The toilet isn't filling. I flushed the toilet once, then blew my nose, threw a tissue in and went to flush it again and nothing happened. There was no water in the back.
D: I know. I told you that.
C: Ok - Well, I didn't think what you were saying meant I couldn't flush the toilet twice in a row.
D: Well, its not a big deal. How many times are you going to do that?
C: Yeah Don, but what if I had people over. They couldn't flush the toilet one after another.
D: You're right. But how often are you gonna have people over?
C: Don - What if Max went to the bathroom right after me. The toilet wouldn't flush.
D:  Yeah - I guess you're right. But I told you when I was there and you didn't seem to think it was a big deal.
C: That's because I'm not a plumber Don.Is this beyond your scope of expertise? Do I need to call a plumber?
D: No - I can do it.
C: When?
D: I don't know.
C: Ok - well I need an actual day that you are going to show up.
D: Well - how about Saturday?
C: Ok - do I need to call you to remind you?
D: Sure - you know how I always love to get calls from you Carol.

So, the moral of the story is even if you may only have guests over occasionally, a working toilet is important in everyday life. In the meantime I just keep a large vase in the bathroom that I fill with water to make sure any unexpected guests or my son can flush the brand new toilet on demand.