Turns out, it DOES flow downhill.

24 Mar

pithypants toilet

My week started with a 9am call informing me that my toilet had overflowed and flooded the unit below mine with smelly poo water.

Before the sentence was even out of the property manager’s mouth Monday morning, I’d packed up my desk, donned my jacket and was out the door, sprinting (more like fast walking while gasping) home to see how messed up my bathroom was.

As it turns out, in an interesting twist, my neighbors are both dramatic and lazy. I say that because when I arrived home (fearing a flood of epic proportions) my bathroom looked totally normal – as in, just as I’d left it, right down to the hand-scrubbed floor tiles.

When I called the property manager back, confused, he said, “False alarm. While their bathroom DID get drenched with poo water today, apparently they’ve had a stain growing on their ceiling for the last few months, so it’s not a flood situation.”

Let’s pause for a quick poll. If you noticed a growing stain on your ceiling would you:

  1. Call the property manager ASAP?
  2. Run upstairs and let your neighbor know?
  3. Do nothing for months, until poo flooded your bathroom?


So here I was, learning that I had a plumbing (and drywalling) issue on my hands just as I’m about to head out of town for vacation. I may or may not have mildly lost my shit (both figuratively and literally, given the circumstances) for a few minutes.

Once I regrouped, I hopped into action, calling a plumber, alerting my insurance company, and tracking down contact information for someone below me who had a key to the unit and could coordinate with contractors for repairs.

So the plumber came out and quickly diagnosed the problem as a worn down wax seal. He repaired it quickly (if not inexpensively) and asked if I’d had any other issues with the toilet.

“Um, no…” I responded, somewhat confused. “What other kind of issues?”

“Ever have to use the plunger?” he asked. “That’s an American Standard toilet and those things are known for being problematic. They usually require a lot of plunging, especially in buildings where the water pressure might not be so good.”

Ah. “Actually, no,” I told him. “In the five years I’ve lived here, I’ve never used a plunger.”

And then – because I don’t know when to stop – I said, “Which is kind of ironic because growing up I needed a plunger so often that my parents bought one just for me and wrote my name on the handle.”

He paused, then laughed, then said, “Good for you.”


I think the only way that exchange could’ve ended more awkwardly is if he’d offered a high-five.

Also? In hindsight, how did my Crohn’s go 37 years without being diagnosed? I’m pretty sure I’m the only person I know who had her own plunger before hitting high school.

And yes, you don’t have to say it… Alan is a lucky, lucky man.


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