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New: New Year’s Reflections (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Broken Toilet)

Posted on Jan 6, 2017

If you had been in my family’s living room at about 2:30 on Christmas morning, you might have heard urgent mutterings and a disturbing hissing sound coming out from under the bathroom door. Had you ventured to inspect the situation further, you would have observed my stepfather and I as we removed the cap of the toilet tank, endured a generous vertical explosion of water, and fumbled with the toilet’s innards for several feeble minutes before replacing the cap and catching our breath. You would have watched us repeat this cycle for quite some time. It’s hard to come up with fresh ideas when your face is repeatedly doused with cold toilet tank water, after all.

You might wonder how I got myself into such a situation in the wee hours before dawn on Christmas. It all began when I woke up at about 2 o’clock in the morning to the sound of the toilet running upstairs. Now, the bathroom in my childhood home has been subject to all kinds of problems (sharing one toilet and shower between 7 people puts quite a lot of stress on the pipes, as it turns out), and though the house’s plumbing has limped gamely on through the years, my family has become pretty accustomed to all kinds of fun complications. So, recognizing the toilet’s shuddering spasms as a sure sign of distress, I shuffled upstairs in my pajamas to see what I could do to fix the problem.

I couldn’t do much, as it turns out. After I gingerly removed the cap of the tank, a vigorous spout of water flew into my right eye. I spent several anxious minutes fiddling with the toilet’s various knobs and tubes, all the while trying to see through a steady stream of water and struggling not to wake my slumbering family. After about 15 minutes of doing the same thing over and over and achieving little effect (which, if I remember correctly, is the textbook definition of insanity). I replaced the cap, dried off my soaking face, and roused my stepfather to inform him that the toilet was having a temper tantrum.

And so we found ourselves trying fix a flooding toilet several hours before sunrise while the rest of the family dreamt of sugarplums and gumdrops and other whimsical Christmas-y things. At some point, my stepfather managed to shut off the water and fix the leak (to be honest, I mostly stood to one side and watched him while wringing my hands), allowing us both to go back to bed until approximately 5:46 am, which is roughly when the neighbor’s roosters have begun crowing each morning since we moved in 15 years ago.

Curiously, this bizarre toilet incident is one of my favorite memories from 2016, and it’s certainly the funniest thing that happened to me all year. Indeed, though my experience with our flooding toilet was unpleasant in the moment, it’s become yet another quirky memory to add to my family’s already chucklesome history. But isn’t that the way it always is when we reflect on each past year? We may obsess over the nasty details when we experience them, but it’s only in retrospect that we realize how valuable such experiences were (even if that value can only be measured in laughter). In this way, each new year is like an old house with lots of personality: there will be creaks and groans, unexpected drafts, and a burst pipe or two, but these hiccups only add to the character of each day. And it’s not as though living in a totally sterile environment would be ideal either: we need the grit and the grime to give our years true substance.

So, if there’s a moral to this modest blog post, it would be to avoid getting hung up on 2017’s inevitable messes, because you’ll most likely be laughing about them by 2018. Or, if you’d like to be less philosophical about it, the moral could be to update old bathroom appliances well before the holidays roll around.

Reach out to Pickett Street today- we’d love to be a resource to you and help make 2017 one of the best years yet.


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