Archives  | NCROnline.org 

Send This Page to a Friend

 Writer's Desk 

August 3, 2005
Vol. 3, No. 14



Rebecca Beyer Save your prayers for plumbing

By Rebecca Beyer

Would you like to donate to NCR?
Your support keeps
this Web site running.

My toilet works and I didn't even have to pray over it.

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?

Share NCR with your Friends
The man who shared my aisle moved into my line of sight. He must have seen something like horror in my expression.

"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 rbeyer@ncronline.org.
Copyright © 2005 The National Catholic Reporter Publishing  Company, 115 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64111    TEL:  1-816-531-0538   FAX:  1-816-968-2280