Fixed the toilet. It was flushing slow. I can fix that, I said. She looked skeptical but said nothing. A couple squirts of dish soap, two pots of boiling water and a couple buckets of warm water later and it flushed with a glorious whoosh. I flushed it a couple times so she could hear it. She found the number of the landlord’s plumber. You can call him, she said. But it’s flushing fine, I said. She pressed the handle. Whoosh. I couldn’t help gloating, and repaired to the sofa to wallow in husbandly self satisfaction. She interrupted my gloat. You could always call our buddy Eddie, she said, he’s a plumber. But we don’t need a plumber, I said, I fixed it. Listen, I said, and went back into the bathroom and flushed the toilet. Whoosh. Now you flush it, I said. Another whoosh. Doesn’t that sound fixed? If you say so, she said.
So the boss comes by my desk and says you better run upstairs to the 19th floor and see what the hell is going on up there. It sounds like the ceiling over the men’s room is gonna explode. I ducked into the 18th floor john and sure enough there was an ungodly racket coming from above. Loud, vibrating, scary and potentially disgusting. I’d once had a very traumatic moment in the building when I was trapped by a volcanic toilet and came close to dying a horrible death, or at least having to buy new shoes. It just began welling up from one of the empty stalls, gurgling and splashing and trapped me in a corner behind the sink.It was a very long few seconds there, the foul tide rising and rising till I could back up no further and my mind was filled with really nasty scenarios. St. Crispin had mercy on me and interceded, the tide retreated, and I washed my hands with a violent intensity that made no sense at all. They were clean. I stood in the men’s room, remembering all this and staring at my shoes on the shiny floor. It began rumbling again upstairs. OK, let’s roll.
I took the elevator up to the 19th floor to investigate. It was a tonier floor than our humble 18th floor, with better, newer carpeting and not a hint of napwear. The furniture in the lobby looked new. The plants were so perfect they looked artificial. The elevator closed and slid away behind me and all was silence. Not a voice, not a rumble. Found the men’s room. All was peaceful inside. Flushed a toilet…the water splashed, rushed away, and all was silence. As I stepped back out into the hall suddenly there it was, an enormous roar, seismic even, you could feel the floor rumble. It filled up all that silence like the end of the world. Then it stopped, suddenly. Nothing. Since the world was still here, it had to be the plumbing. I stood in the hallway wondering when it began again, huge and loud and menacing. I’d never heard anything like it. Then the door of the ladies room opened, and I could hear it, the flush from hell. Pipes vibrated and roared, and out walked a very pretty blonde. Just lovely. She lowered her eyes as she passed, the door swung closed behind her. The noise abated.