Plunge Away

5 Dec

I’ve decided that dogs and toilets function in the same way.

When we leave my dog home alone for long periods of time, she often responds by taking a good, defiant look at my parents, running upstairs, and shitting in their shower. It’s a fun little routine that we’ve established. (Some might objectively call it “animal neglect by humans,” but if you know my dog then you know that “human neglect by dog” is far more prevalent in my household…)

My toilet responded to me being gone for Thanksgiving break much like my dog would. It decided it was tired of flushing all the time and wanted a break from the norm. Like a barista who was “meant to do more,” my toilet wanted recognition.

After all, nothing says “welcome home, I’ve missed you,” better than an erupting porcelain throne!

After my grandfather dropped me off at my apartment on Monday, I headed to the bathroom to conduct normal bathroom activities. I dropped a few towels down the toilet, threw some molasses into the bowl, conducted a funeral ceremony for my entire fish tank, and then accidentally dropped my bowling ball in there. Nothing out of the usual!

What happened next was like some scene in an adventure movie where the characters are stuck on a raft that has a hole it and is floating down a raging rapid that’s full of man-eating crocodiles and piranhas with tiny laser beams on their heads.

My toilet EXPLODED.

At first, the water was just kind of gurgling like a happy baby. But then, when the gurgling didn’t cease, I made the wise, well-thought-out, not at all hasty decision to jiggle the handle and to flush three (maybe four) times in a row.

Because you can never have too much of a good thing, right?

But then…WHOOSH. The water rose in a torrent and spilled all over the bathroom and into the foyer.


(“Foyer” is such a fancy word to describe a carpeted hallway that serves as both a “stretching area” when I’m going through one of my yogi phases and a dust/hair collector…)

It all happened so quickly, and yet I felt like everything was moving in slow motion.

“NOOOOOO,” I shouted, as I watched a pool of water spill over the bowl.

My immediate concern was for my boots, which have a slight hole in the toe and which aren’t waterproof because I refused to spend an extra $10 to get the stupid water proofing spray. (Now I know why that spray is so important.)

But then, my motherly instincts kicked in and I realized that something far more precious than my boots was in danger…


I glanced into the hallway to realize that the only thing separating my million dollar Greek yogurts from a storm of water was…MY OTHER PAIR OF BOOTS.

I sprinted (took three steps) into the hallway and lunged for my boots and groceries.

By the grace of the toilet gods, I managed to move everything in time. (I think…I’ll report back after I try one of my yogurts.)

But the water was still flowing!

I glanced up at my Hillary Clinton poster, hoping for some inspiration.

Huzzah! Being the quick thinker I am, I decided the most pressing task was to message my roommates saying, “DO NOT come home at all today, there’s been a misunderstanding.”

I then grabbed our plunger and decided to bravely face the demon that was spewing out demon juice from inside my bathroom.

Like a reverse Sword in the Stone scene, I plunged the plunger (ohhh, so that’s why it’s called that) into the Sea of the Unknown and tried to plunge.

Now, there’s something I should admit right here, right now. I cannot plunge a toilet.

Yes, I have attempted to plunge before. But, for some reason, I’ve never gotten the hang of it!

My mom always tells me that “plunging lessons” are on our “agenda” for Christmas breaks, right next to cleaning my room and learning how to do online banking…miraculously, none of the “agenda” is every accomplished. (Probably because I scold my mom every time she uses the words “agenda” and “Christmas break” in the same sentence.)

Luckily, every time I’ve been in desperate need of a plunger, there’s been someone else who was willing to take the plunge.

As a child, I tended to be experimental with my bathroom habits. On more than a few occasions, I threw entire toilet paper rolls into the toilet and then forced my parents to deal with the consequences. I’m not sure why I felt the need to go to such extremes. I think I just wanted the toilet to realize its full potential and was annoyed each time it crapped out on me.

It got so bad that my mom had to make a “Bathroom Reminders” sign and hang it above the toilet. Unfortunately, none of the “reminders” said anything about not throwing signs into the bowl…you can imagine how much plunging my parents had to endure.

Skip ahead to age twelve. At a babysitting gig, I was tending to a child’s bathroom needs and didn’t realize that said child had dumped a lifetime’s worth of moist wipes into the toilet. When I flushed, the wipes took a trip downstream and the stream took a trip downstairs into the kitchen, through the kitchen ceiling.

Panicked, I grabbed the plunger, called my best friend at the time, and asked for a quick lesson on plunging.

Why would I call a fellow twelve-year-old to ask a plunging question?

The purpose of my call was two-fold: 1. To get legitimate plunging advice (she was my “cool,” “independent” friend whose parents let her walk the dog alone at night and leave the house without a headband) and 2. To slyly brag that I had a babysitting gig and was making enough money to buy rose colored sunglasses at Claire’s that weekend (the hallmark of preteen success).

Luckily, the parents of the child soon responded to my panicked calls and came home to fix the situation. You can imagine how guilty I felt as they doled out my money in front of the East Coast’s Niagara Falls. (Not very guilty. I had rose-colored glasses on the brain.)

With a history of limited plunging experience, how could anyone expect me to fix the unfortunate situation that had been created in my apartment’s bathroom? (Passive voice is does wonders for my blame-free complex.)

Me trying to plunge my way out of the situation was like someone trying to shield herself from a waterfall with one of those tiny, wooden umbrellas they give at Chinese food restaurants.

So, I called for reinforcement. When the facilities man picked up the phone, he asked me “where the toilet was located” in my apartment…

Oh, it’s actually located in my bedroom, attached to a pipe that I found hanging from the wall. Could that be part of the problem, sir??

(Suddenly, a wooden souvenir umbrella seemed like a more reliable savior…)

Luckily, when I got home later that day, I found the toilet fully repaired! All of the water had dried in the bathroom and the foyer water was soaking up nicely, thanks to a slew of paper towels that I’d thrown down on my way out the door. (That really gave a whole new meaning to the concept of “throwing down.”)

So, what is to be learned from this experience?

  1. Don’t set your groceries down too close to the bathroom.
  2. Always spring for boot insurance. Always.
  3. Know your strengths, and find someone who can compensate for your weaknesses.

2 Responses to “Plunge Away”

  1. ForTheLoveOfSass December 6, 2014 at 2:18 am #

    Oh gosh. That does not sound fun! But it was a good read and I’m glad it’s fixed 🙂

    • sophpearl January 14, 2015 at 6:12 pm #

      Thanks so much for reading! I got a plunger for Christmas 🙂

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