It was quite the morning, with the Trickster making a prominent appearance. I’m going to try to give you a somewhat shortened version of the events. The one without all the details of my panic.
Something made me wake up at five. As I walked down the hall, I heard slow dripping. I knew the seal on the guest bathroom toilet was leaking, and I had a plumber scheduled for Monday. But the amount of water from the leak had increased yesterday. And now it was dripping underneath, someplace where I couldn’t wipe up the water, someplace between upstairs and downstairs. I knew that this particular dripping was bad.
The valve to turn off the water to the toilet has been stuck since I’ve lived here (that means 16 years). So I tried to turn off the main water line in the garage so I could empty the toilet bowl. I couldn’t budge that valve, either. I tried to rig a support with lotion bottles (the only thing the right height) inside the toilet tank so that it wouldn’t refill after flushing so I could empty the bowl so the seal wouldn’t leak. That worked for a while, but shortly the tank started filling again. I tried the bottles in different positions – and then something essential broke, and the water in the toilet was running continuously. I was flushing it so it wouldn’t overflow on the floor.
I was thinking frantically, “WHAT am I going to do??!!!” It’s 5:30 in the morning, and I need help!” I couldn’t get any water turnoff valve to budge. What was I going to do??
Hating like heck to wake him at 5:30 in the morning, I called my plumber. No answer. So I called my very kind neighbor, the one who has mowed my yard for me through my breast cancer treatments and recovery. The one who has taken care of my critters when I’ve traveled – over many years. The one who has always said, “No problem” when I’ve thanked him for the many and various things he’s done for me.
I hated to wake him. But I did. He came right over. He tried to turn off my water at the meter, but the valve wouldn’t budge. But he did get the water valve in the house to turn off. And he replaced the valve in the bathroom to turn off the water there so that I could have water in the rest of the house.
While my neighbor was replacing the valve (with one he just happened to have in his truck), my plumber called. At that moment, water was still coming out of the old valve and wouldn’t stop, so my neighbor said to tell him to come on. The plumber wanted to wait until afternoon – and who could blame him? I asked him to come now. He hesitated – then he said he would.
My neighbor got the new valve on, no water coming out, and he went home. He had saved me. I told him “thank you – more than I can say.”
He said, “No problem.”
I hope he got a good nap this afternoon. He deserves it.
The plumber arrived about an hour or so later. He came in and took the toilet off the floor so he could put in a new seal. We talked about my 1970s blue toilet. He saw the date inside the tank. May 1977. I like that retro look and told him, “I really like the blue toilet.” He said, “Then you have to be careful not to crack the tank, because if you do, you won’t be able to replace it.”
You see where this is going, right?
He put in the seal, put the toilet bowl back on, and was working on putting it all back together, replacing the innards of the toilet, while I went to make a pot of coffee. I had just ground the coffee beans when I heard from the bathroom, “Krista, I’ve got some bad news.” I put down the coffee grinder and went into the bathroom.
He said, “The tank is cracked.”
Of course. Of course it is. The Trickster isn’t through with me.
“So I need a new toilet.”
I just had to laugh. And did. Out loud.
I had just asked about toilet brands, because I eventually want to replace the toilet in my bathroom with the “comfort height.” So I knew what brand he recommended. I asked him if he could get one tomorrow and replace this one. He said yes.
I know it won’t be a cool, retro 1970s blue toilet.
He said, “This is the first tank I’ve ever cracked.”
Of course. Of course it is. Because it’s my Trickster. Telling me not to get too comfortable, telling me not to get too attached to things.
So he took the blue tank off and put it in my garage for me to take to the dump. And he cleaned up the bathroom and packed up his tools.
He’ll be back tomorrow with my new, comfort height white toilet. The one that will make the flooring look even more yellowed. And out-of-date.
It will be a toilet that’s not cool. Not 1970s. Not blue.
But I won’t worry about that.
Because cancer has a way of putting things in perspective. And the Trickster is helping me not get too comfortable, not get too attached to my way or my things. And is helping me get more comfortable with asking for help. Even at 5:30 on a Sunday morning.
Goodbye cool 1970s toilet. I’ll miss you.
But I’ll be very, very grateful to have kind people to rescue me, ones who will come to my house at 5:30 in the morning. I’ll be grateful not to have a water-damaged house. I’ll be grateful that I have another bathroom with another toilet.
A white toilet in the guest bathroom will be just fine. Especially a comfort height white toilet. With a working turn-off valve connecting it to the water line. Maybe a rug will (kind of) hide the contrast between the white toilet and yellowed flooring (which is also 1970s).
The Trickster is making sure I realize I’m fortunate to have toilets and turn-off valves and running water and help when I need it, help from a neighbor who says “no problem” when he’s gotten up at 5:30 in the morning to tramp around my yard to try to turn off the water at the meter and then done rescue plumbing for me. And help from a plumber who came out early on a Sunday morning at a time when he’d much rather be sound asleep.
Yes, Trickster, I’m paying attention. To what really matters.
To how blessed I am. No matter what color my toilet is.