Tag Archives: toilet

The plumbing was a bit dodgy.

15 Apr

London has been – and remains – one of my favorite cities. There’s so much history and charm and character. And – something I really didn’t appreciate until I lived in France for a while – communication is EASY. If anything, the few differences between British English and American English tend to provide small moments of delight.

Who doesn’t enjoy seeing things with these names on a menu: Toad in a Hole, Eton Mess, Jam Roly Poly, Champignons Rumbledethump? Real example: the other night at dinner, the person to my left asked for bashed neaps and tatties, while the one on my right ordered bubble and squeak. It might all be English, but it doesn’t mean I understand it. (And it doesn’t mean I can repeat it – when I tried to remember the name of the one dish, I called it “bashed teats and nappies,” which I think is something entirely different!)

For all the general convenience of London, there are always a few things that remind me I’m in a very OLD country.

One is the plumbing. Whenever I encounter a toilet, I feel it’s a bit of Russian Roulette to determine if it will flush. In my hotel, it seemed to work one out of every three times, generally. At the office, there was no rhyme or reason to when a toilet would flush. People seemed to just close the lid and move on. There were times when I’d head to the bathroom and find ALL the toilets with their lids closed – only to return an hour later and they would all be clear.

Every time I went to the bathroom, if there was another woman in there I would ask about it. “Am I doing something wrong? Do some of these toilets just not flush predictably?”

I would get a shrug in response. “Yeah, they’re a bit dodgy.”

In the States, this would be grounds for outrage. We would be on the phone with the building supervisor, complaining that the restroom needed repairing and threaten to break our lease if it wasn’t resolved quickly. In London, it seemed gently accepted.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 11.03.11 AMThe other reminder on this trip that we were clearly in another country was the hair dryer provided by the hotel. Look at that thing!

After checking into the hotel and stashing our stuff, my traveling companion reported back, “I don’t think that Flowbie-thing is going to cut it!”

Not only does it look like something you might use to vacuum out your car, it also blows air only a smidge warmer and more forcefully than if you attempted to dry your hair by blowing through a straw.

Finally, I don’t know what it is, but the Brits LOVE their mayonnaise. I’m acutely aware of this because I do NOT love mayonnaise, so I found myself scraping it off EVERYTHING. Even things that rightfully shouldn’t have mayonnaise on them seemed to be slathered in it.

Differences aside, London was kind to us. The people were warm and friendly. The weather was generally sunny (aside from an odd 15 minute stretch where it when from sunny to rainy to hailing then back to sunny). The sites were lovely.

Mission completed, we pulled out of St. Pancras on Friday bound for a few days with our Paris team, where the toilets might work reliably, but our language skills would not.

 

What do cops, donuts, politicians and toilets have in common?

15 Oct

Hint: there are probably many correct answers.

It’s only Tuesday, and already, this happened:

Pretty amazing collection from GBD, you must admit.

Pretty amazing collection from GBD, you must admit. Potentially worth burning for?

Which is not to suggest that donuts are a bad thing, or that I fell off my non-existent diet or something. No. These donuts? Demonstrated my office’s priorities. Let me explain.

Since I work in DC, most of the city – including our building – was shut-down for Columbus Day yesterday. But because my company is in the business of finding people work, we didn’t take the day off.  (Maybe the government could take a page from our book and the economy wouldn’t be in the toilet?)

We showed up to a darkened building, And yet we turned our lights on.

All was cool, until around noon, when the fire alarm went off – at approximately 4,000,000 decibels and accompanied by an eerie robot voice telling us to “leave our belongings and exit the building.”

We all looked at each other, balancing the competing concern of, “Do I really need to put my shoes on and leave my desk right now?” with, “Well, we do work two blocks from the White House, so maybe there really is an emergency requiring evacuation?”

And yet… as we all shuffled out the door, one of my co-workers called back, “Don’t forget the donuts!”

And as if we were moving in slow motion (probably because we were), another co-worker (whose new nickname is, “Hero”), turned around and ran back for that box of delicious pastries.

Because in case you didn’t study that photo closely, two of those mofo’s were covered in bacon. And that is worth dying for.

PRIORITIES. TRUE STORY.

Also, even before that box of donuts was rescued from a false alarm, this happened:

Hint: You're not doing it right.

Hint: You’re not doing it right.

That’s right. I went to the bathroom on a day when almost no one was at work and I found a stall out of commission. Because it was covered not by one toilet liner, but by four, folded in some crazy-ass way and lining each side of the toilet as if it were a pontoon boat. Seriously. It was so messed up I walked back to the office to get my camera to take this photo.

The good news is that later in the day, we FINALLY figured out who the seat pee-er is. I have to give credit to my friend Courtney, whose SpideySense was activated when a pink ballet flat poked into her stall in a way that indicated someone was squatting rather than sitting. Courtney emerged from the stall just as her stall-neighbor finished washing her hands and darted out of the bathroom.

With instincts to rival Sherlock, Courtney investigated the recently evacuated stall… only to find pee on the seat and an unflushed toilet.

CITIZEN’S ARREST.

It hasn’t happened yet, but here’s how that gentle conversation is going to go, now the we all know the culprit works one suite over and wears pink ballet flats:

US: Have you noticed someone keeps peeing on the seat and not cleaning it up?

HER, looking uncomfortable: Yeah – so disgusting!?

US: We’ve narrowed it down and are pretty sure we know who’s doing it.

HER, looking mildly panicked: Who? How do you know?

US: We have our ways. Signs track back to your office, so could you be our ambassador and talk with all the ladies there to let them know we’re close to a breakthrough so they can stop before we have to embarrass them?

HER: Gulp.

US: That’s right.

And – my Columbus Day wouldn’t be complete without a political tie-in of some sort, so then THIS happened as I was commuting:

Look! It's Uncle Joe!

Look! Blurry, but it’s Uncle Joe!

Yep. Hustling down Connecticut Ave on my way to get a massage, I noticed a crowd of people forming outside Brooks Brothers, and a security detail that was impressive yet not full-on presidential.

I stopped to ask an on-looker who they were waiting to see emerge from the store, and just at that moment, the police cleared the sidewalk, a few Secret Service guys came out of the store looking stern and self-important, and then out came Joe Biden, huge grin and no shopping bag.

He waved and smiled and – instead of making a beeline for his car (as I would do if my shopping spree had proven unsuccessful) he took a minute to shake hands and chat with the onlookers.

Whew. It was quite the day: Donuts, police… Toilets, politicians… Who would imagine seeing all these disparate things in just one day? It’s almost like they go together.