Getting screwed: The Live Blog

9:00am: Two days ago, my wife told me both of our uptairs toilets had problems. By problems, she meant they were flushing, but doing so all over the damned floor. I accused her of being unlucky and told her to buy some Drano. No Home Depot product worked. A day later, she called the plumbers. I started to get cranky.

9:20am: The plumber arrived. I am already disappointed because the guy is not fat and I doubt there will be any butt crack joke availability. In fact, he’s thin, fairly good looking, has a stylish haircut and makes a point of covering his shoes before he walks on my floors. He smells like chewing gum and cigarettes. I fear I might be headed toward some sort of alternative lifestyle fantasy fodder, so I’ll leave it at that.

9:28am: I take the guy on a tour of the upstairs. The wife has cleaned up, I guess just in case we want to impress the plumber. I tell the guy the toilets won’t flush. I don’t think he’s listening.

9:32am: Here are a few of the quotes from the plumber over the past few minutes.

  • “You really want to stay away from toilets with rounded fronts.”
  • “You really want to stay away from Drano. There’s acid in that. Not a lot. I mean they can sell it at Home Depot. But there’s acid in there and that can cause you problems.”
  • “You really want to go for a toilet with a square front. They are a bit enlongated and, if you know what I mean, a little more man-friendly.”
  • Yeah, I don’t know if he was hitting on me or not.

    9:34am: Wow, why the hell didn’t I see this coming? You call a plumber to fix your toilet and he tries to sell you a new toilet? Really? This happens? Now, I’m no fan of my cheap toilets. I’d even buy some new ones to replace these if I thought it was going to save us any time and plumber fees. So, this guy thinks I’m buying what he’s selling. And I’m probably going to make the purchase until Mr. Man-Friendly tells me the new johns are going to run me more than $600. Apiece.

    9:35am: Using smelling salts and a few kicks in the ribs, Mr. Man-Friendly gets me up off the hardwoods. I try to find a way to play off my lack of consciousness. “And, so how much just to fix the ones I have?” I ask. And then I get it. They try to sell you on the NASA Space Shuttle toilets and quote you the price. So, when you get the actual quote for the repairs, you are actually happy about what would normally be sticker shock. In fact, by now, I am downright excited to spending $400 for what is certainly a couple minutes of witchcraft and probably some generic Drano. And somewhere along the way, I buy the Ben Franklin service plan, titled cleverly enough, “The Ben Society.” A stich in time and all.

    9:41am: I leave the guy to “snake” my toliets. The “snake” looks more like a military-grade weapon. It sounds like it, too. What’s happening upstairs sounds like the plumber destroying everything on the second level of my house. I hear running water and a lot of banging. Before this is over, I feel certain I will need a new toilet after all.

    9:57am: Man-Friendly is really putting on a show. He’s made more noise than any service person in the history of our house. I’ve heard the two upstairs toilets flush three or four times apiece. Somehow, I feel certain, the guy is going to come down and tell me, despite his best efforts, he’s going to have to sell me some $600 toilets.

    10:00am: I think this guy actually hates my family. As he comes downstairs, he quietly says, “They are unclogged.” The sound in Man-Friendly’s voice sounds like a guy who just watched five of his buddies die in battle. He has a 1,000-yard stare and quietly says as he goes to his truck, “No more baby wipes.”

    10:02am: I actually feel bad for Man-Friendly. “I’ve never pulled so many out,” he says. I’m sort of glad my kid isn’t here, because the guy will realize the boy is now three years old and ask why there are still baby wipes around. I protest briefly, “They are called flushable wipes.” Man-Friendly responds, “They are not.”

    10:09am: The guy seems to have come back to reality. “I think they call them flushable just so they can sell more of them. They don’t disintegrate. Anything they can get hung up on, they will.” I am actually disturbed by the concept of what the wipes could possibly get hung up on. I find myself actually happy writing a check for $400.

    10:20am: Mr. Man-Friendly is gone and everything seems to be in working order. I’m pretty sure that means we’re going to have a major plumbing disaster in about six hours.

    Thank goodness I joined the Ben Society.

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    Brad Willis

    Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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    11 Responses

    1. Anonymous Little Willie says:

      I think it’s time for a letter to the “flushable” baby wipe company with the $400 bill attached.

      Although, I guess “flushable” just means they WILL go down the toilet and does not suggest they will break down enough to make it out of your house.

    2. Interesting that so many of us are having toilet issues.

      I think it is terrorism.

    3. I think its funny that I find myself being attracted to your plumber. He’s kind of like the Otis of plumbers . . . a little deep, a little brooding, a little hot . . .

      Good luck . . . and if the baby wipes aren’t flushable, we’re all screwed.

    4. Anonymous Champ aka Pureprophet says:

      Very good write!

    5. Anonymous Anonymous says:

      You need an old school 4 gallon flusher. You can flush a cat down those bad boys. I pick those up on bathroom remodel jobs all the time. The new 1.6 gal. toilets suck.
      -ub

    6. I’ve been known to be a cat fan in the past…at least up until my 19 1/2 year old feline friend, Frederick, died a year and a half ago (I’m positive you met him a few times in the spring of 1990).

      Anyhoo, despite it all, I have to confess a morbid curiosity to actually see a cat get flushed down that super duper pooper that “ub” described above. Can you put that one on YouTube for me?

    7. Anonymous Random101 says:

      There are worst thinks then baby wipes. True story: My father was contracted to dig up and replace a septic tank. We removed the old tank and discovered it was full of condoms. My father told the home owner that he should not flush condoms into a septic waste system. He replied “I never use rubbers!” He then stomped into the house yelling for his wife.

    8. Anonymous KenP says:

      The other gotcha is ‘feminine products’ of both types.

      Next time go to the old time hardware store such as Ace or whatever they have there. They’ll recommend a guy that may not have shoe covers but will rod the thing out for less than a bad session on Stars.

      The last time a tenant of mine did the toilet in, the one recommended by Ace charged 50 bucks.

      Stay away from advise at the big box stores along with their Draino. Their advise is of similar quality to computer support hotlines. That grubby old hardware store downtown is the place to head.

    9. BuckeyeTimmy says:

      It seems to me that your story is missing one very slight, but significant entry. Allow me, if you will:

      9:05am: $5 plunger. Worked. Damn it, now I have to come up with some other faux-funny reality.

    1. February 20, 2009

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