Save your prayers for plumbing
By Rebecca Beyer
A few days ago, I was standing in front of the toilet aisle at Home Depot in a stupor. Just minutes earlier, I confidently hopped out of my car, legal pad in hand. I had taken measurements the night before and thought picking out a toilet would be stress-free. I'm not sure now why I felt that way. I have trouble deciding on a shampoo and conditioner in the health and beauty aisle at the grocery store. In the end, I panic and buy a two-in-one.
The sight of all the toilets (cream-colored, white, black, brown, two-piece, one-piece, standard, elongated, round!) just about did me in. My girlfriend Tiffany had to persuade me that removing and replacing the offending toilet in my mom's house would be do-able. Apparently, her dad said so. My dad, on the other hand, said:
"Rebecca, this is a no-brainer. Call the handyman."
In the end, my frugality and the prospect of a challenge convinced me. But now that Tiffany and I had committed to the job, I couldn't even purchase a toilet.
One man stood in the aisle at Home Depot with me. I tried to watch how he analyzed each model while I scanned the store for men (or women) in red shirts. Help me, I begged, silently. Please.
My measurements, of course, now appeared useless. My "height of tank" notation was not listed on any of the toilet information sheets, and apparently, the diameter of the seat is of no consequence. A "rough-in" measurement was required. As far as I could tell from the bare-bones pictures on the toilet boxes in front of me, "rough-in" was the measurement from the wall to that knob-thing on the base of the toilet -- something I had overlooked.
I took a deep breath. It was obvious I would have to return home, measure more. I looked at the phone number of my mom's handyman on my legal pad. I calculated the number of days before my mom returned from her overseas trip. I mentally viewed the walls of her bedroom, guestroom and bathroom, which I had de-wallpapered to paint for her before the toilet fiasco began. What's a few hundred bucks, I reasoned, to have someone who knows take care of it all?
"It's hard to know, isn't it!" he laughed. He was pushing a cart and ready to buy, having been twice to Home Depots to look over the selection. "Almost like you gotta pray over it!"
I laughed but wanted to cry as I watched him walk away with a winner. As I was slinking out of the aisle, he raced back for a toilet seat -- apparently not included.
Then I saw it: Complete-Toilet-In-A-Box. Stacks and stacks of them. I couldn't believe my eyes. White. Standard. Ready-to-install. I consulted a red-shirt who swore by the pre-packaged (cheap!) deal, and then I bought the thing.
The next night, after four hours crammed between the wall and the toilet, fiddling and adjusting, sawing off screws and soaking up tank water, reading and re-reading instructions, we flushed the thing.
It worked. And I saved my prayer for bigger plumbing problems in the world.
Rebecca Beyer is serving a summer internship at NCR. He e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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