Our toilet got blocked five days ago.
It started off as the toilet paper needing one and a half flushes to go down. Then two. We ignored it as the water rose higher with each flush attempt, pretending it was all in our minds. It was just a once off, we assured ourselves. A temporary thing. Toilets had a tendency to spontaneously fix themselves, right?
“Hey,” said my housemates two days ago. She was the first to crack. “Is it just me or is the toilet harder to flush?”
“Nah,” I said, my cool façade remaining intact. “I think you’re just imagining things. Let me go check.”
I went to pee in our toilet, my dedication to the experiment real. I flushed. The water rose. My piece of TP swirled flaccidly in the yellow-tinged water. I walked out.
“Hey, I think you’re right. It’s harder to flush.”
We proceeded over the next 24 hours to continue using our toilet. Every time we saw each other in the corridor, we exchanged words.
“Toilet still not right?”
“Yeah, flush still subpar. What should we do?”
We were complacent. We were slowly acclimatizing to the declining effectiveness of our flush. We were on a slippery slope. Soon we’d be totally fine shitting in a flower pot in our backyard.
The turning point came on day three when a deuce was dropped.
“Hey,” said the perpetrator as they walked out. “Don’t go in there.”
“We need a plumber.”
We spent 48 hours borrowing the master bedroom ensuite. The inhabitant generously encouraged us to use it. She slept with her bedroom door open for the next 48 hours so we wouldn’t feel shy about venturing in.
Nonetheless, I felt hesitant but a body’s functions cannot be denied. I crept in on a Wednesday morning with my housemate asleep in her bed four feet from me. It was like taking a shit in a public restroom. I was on high alert, perched on the toilet like one of those African savannah mice, poised to flee. I’d never felt so vulnerable.
We called a plumber.
“Can’t we just do it ourselves?” my housemate asked initially. “We could buy a plunger.”
I looked at her like she was crazy.
“What happens when we put the plunger in?”
“I researched it. Everything gets pushed back in.”
She looked at me. I looked at her. I could tell that visions of our toilet overflowing with weeks’ worth of urine, feces and its various accompaniments were going through her mind.
“Okay,” she said. “Let’s call a plumber.”
The plumber came this morning. As if by magic, I came home to a functioning toilet and a sense of equilibrium being re-established. Pipes have been unblocked and my small world has been righted.
This has been a humbling experience. Here I was, thinking I was a fully functioning adult when I am only ever one blocked toilet away from near collapse.