The toilet story

I’ve got a handy tip for you.

On Saturday, my son Isaac, who is making full use of his toddler years, decided to pull about half a roll of toilet paper off the roll. And not for the purposes of using it, either. He would have pulled more off, but there was no more to pull off. And he put it all straight into the toilet.

I discovered this feat of plumbing, and took action. Very unwise action. And it is this action that forms the basis of my advice to you today. It may be obvious to most of you, but if it helps even one person who has as little knowledge about things pipey as me, then I’ll be happy.

When your kid, making full use of his or her toddler years, decides to do something toddlerish, and pulls a whole bunch of toilet paper off the roll and into the toilet, don’t DON’T don’t… attempt to flush it all down.

I did.

Everything seemed to go down okay, and we went merrily hopping on our way out on a little excursion. We returned a few hours later. L went into the toilet, and I know she won’t get mad at me if I reveal to the world that she did a truly spectacular dump. Just one problem: The toilet would no longer flush. To be precise, it would flush, but nothing was going anywhere. The bowl was gradually filling up.

Conference, diagnosis, possible solutions? Plunger. Toilet plunger. And where exactly do you get a toilet plunger at 7pm on a Saturday night? Ummm… Supermarket? Ring around a couple, no luck. One suggests the K-Mart in Burwood, open 24 hours. Worth the trip? Heck, we’ve got the car now, it can be done, even if it is a helluva long way to go to get a simple plumbing implement.

We try ringing around a couple of people to see if we could borrow a plunger. They either haven’t got one (and it’s difficult to abuse someone for this if you haven’t got one either) or they had a plunger that was the wrong size, and "it wouldn’t work anyway".

So what about other solutions? Drano, or similar? Only have to go as far as our local Safeway for that. It seems easier, so I do. We try it. Supposedly the very poisonous sounding chemicals in there will blast their way through our debris, leaving a nice, clean, uncongested drain.

Several servings later, it is apparent that all it has done is to break the… ummm.. effluent up and distribute more evenly around the bowl so that we’re left with a lovely dark brown lumpy cocktail.


It is apparent that the water level in the bowl is slowly descending, so we decide to leave it to do so until morning, hoping that it would somehow resolve itself.

Which of course it didn’t.

Okay, enough messing around, call the plumber. Which plumber? Maybe the landlady should nominate one, especially since she might know someone who would come out on a Sunday morning. She gets in touch with him, and he eventually comes over early in the afternoon, and fixes everything with a little manoeuvring of a plunger. Damn experts, they always make the rest of us look like idiots.

Everyone we’ve told this story asks: How did you manage? Well, sometimes you’d just have to grin and bear it, and other times… ummm, well, we made a lot more visits to Safeway than we usually do. Check your local supermarket to see if it has a public toilet. If it does, celebrate, and make a note of its location: One day, you may need it.

The great thing about this crisis is that it was a team effort. There were three unique parts that created the problem: the paper, the flush, the poo. If any of them had been missing, it just wouldn’t have been the big mess it was. The combined ability of three people to create a crisis is far greater than the sum of its component parts.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.