Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Lesson in Toilet Hubris

Upon returning from Harley Fest in Milwaukee (but that's another BLOG), I discovered that my toilet wasn't flushing properly. After waiting two days to see if my hubby was going to notice this all on his own (he didn't), I ASKED if he had noticed the problem. He hadn't.

Of course I found myself mildly irritated because when things go wrong in our home, shouldn't my husband automatically notice and immediately fix them? I readily admit that my early lessons on what men do came from my Dad, and he was Mr. Fix-It. Mr. Can-Do. Mr. Done-It-Already and Did-It-Right. My brother didn't fall far from that tree, so I figure that all men are like that. And generally when I figure that way I figure wrong.

But I digress. Rather than be mad at my husband for not noticing and fixing, I decided to take the job on myself, plumber that I'm not. So when in town taking my Mother on her errands and out to lunch I stopped at one of those enormous home supply stores and checked out all the new toilet handles available. Zowee - what a nice array of incredibly cheap ($4.29 for cheap plastic just like the one that broke) all the way up to $15.50 for the best.

I decided that since I was going to fix this myself I would get the best, most expensive one. It WAS the nicest looking, after all, and just accidentally happened to match the sink faucet handles rather well. I'll take credit for that happenstance but I hadn't planned it, as I forgot to remind myself what the sink faucets looked like before going into town to get the new parts. Don't you just love it when an accident turns out well?

Upon returning to the ranch that night I started my new toilet job. Figured this would be a piece of cake. After all, I only had to unscrew the current, broken flush handle (which I had completely broken, by the way, trying to fix it in the first place) and screw on the new one. Easy, right?

Nope. The old part was one of those incredibly cheap things made completely from plastic. This would be why it didn't last long in the first place. First it wore to the point of bending and when I straightened it, it broke off entirely.

So I start to unscrew the piece inside the tank that holds the toilet handle on. Nothing. Won't move. I get a pliers. Still nothing. It turns, but does not release. I keep wrangling with the pliers, turning this thing, and it simply will NOT release the toilet handle. Nothing goes anywhere. I get angrier and more frustrated. I call my husband, telling him how frustrated I am and asking if he had replaced this part already at some point (imagining that it MUST be his fault for putting this part on too tightly). I don't say so, but I know he can hear in my voice that somehow, some way, this must all be his fault for not fixing it in the first place or at the very least, doing it wrong sometime in the past.

Finally I decide, after trying a dozen more times to release the dang nut (not my husband ..... the toilet handle), to go to bed and sleep a frustrated sleep over my attempts to complete what should have been an easy task.

So, you know how you have those light bulb moments occasionally just as you're waking up? Must have been bubbling around in your settled down mind overnight and if you're lucky, it bubbles up again during your morning grogginess just before getting out of bed.

So here it comes: my great idea. My light bulb moment. My AHA! I only turned the nut on the toilet handle one way. What if I was supposed to turn it the OTHER way to release the handle? Hmmmm. Obvious. Stupid. Moronic. HUBRIS!

The toilet handle had just taught me a great lesson. The worst part is that I've learned this one before, but obviously it has not stuck with me well enough to cease repetition. One of my life lessons was obviously meant to be to stop assuming. Stop assuming that someone else should do it. Stop assuming that possibly someone else ALREADY did it and must have done it wrong. Stop assuming that it's not my responsibility. Stop assuming that it is someone else's responsibility to fix a toilet which I use as much as they do. Stop assuming that every man is or should be like my Dad; we're all different, with often equally good and negative qualities, just different good and negative qualities. Just plain stop assuming!

To this end I am aware that to assume means making judgments. Making judgments based on our past experiences (sometimes a worthy thing to do, but not always), making judgments biased by our own early life learning experiences (often a rather nastily ingrained and unfortunate trait), making judgments in general as the starting point of our thinking rather than its final resting place. Each single experience often needs to be what brings us to our final judgment of that experience, not some preconceived and often erroneous assumption.

Who knew that a toilet tank could be so instructive?

Just in case you doubt my ability to plumb ...... or to learn ....... here are pics of the finished product:

My kitty bath, full of original black kitty art, is happy once again.

No comments: