An Epic Battle Bravely Fought

War Is Heck! Yes, I said Heck, and I’m proud of it. Some things have to be said without the sugarcoating of a decent society. I sit here in the relative peace between battles like a modern-day Gomer Pyle. Or was that Ernie Pyle? Standing on the front lines, looking into the eyes of the enemy without flinching, and telling the world the truth, about the horrors, the destruction, the bloodshed, and the perpetual leaks.

The enemy I face is indescribably cruel and heartless. No, really. It doesn’t have a heart. My adversary is ice cold with a sickly white complexion. It laughs at me no matter what I do to it. But I am strong willed, with a virtuous spirit, and committed to being victorious. I shout for the world to hear, “I will fix the toilet in my second bathroom, no matter what it takes!”

All right, I accept this might have been a little over the top. Unfortunately, this seemingly small job truly has become an epic battle of wills. The real problem is that my opponent is an inanimate object, without any will of its own, and the fact it is winning.

Perhaps, I should go back to the beginning. About two weeks ago, I noticed the upstairs toilet running. I jumped into action and promptly, without any hesitation, ignored it. Sadly, my wife heard the running water as well. She informed about our rising water bill and convinced me something must be done and soon. Thus, the eternal conflict of man versus machine begins.

Now let me say this. I am a homeowner. I fully understand things in the home break and need repair. The thing is, I thought that the moment a man bought a home, the sky would open up, and a ray of light would come down from heaven. This act of nature would then imbue the man with all the knowledge he would need to keep his new home in good repair. If you believe this, as I once did, I have a lovely bridge for sale that you might want to look at. Wait a minute. I can’t take advantage of you poor gullible souls like that. So, let me say, in the nicest way possible, “It’s all a lie, you idiots!! Ain’t gonna happen!!!” No new knowledge. No ray of light. Nothing. Get used to it. Okay, that may have a bit harsher than necessary.

The thing is I know nothing about toilets. Well, I know how to use them of course. I learned in the second grade. What I’m saying is I know nothing about how they work. But Google does. Google knows everything. It helps me through my day, with all kinds of interesting stuff. Did you know that fossilized dinosaur poop is called a coprolite? Did you further know there is a company which makes jewelry out of them? Nothing says I love you like handing your girlfriend an ancient turd. But I digress.

I Googled toilet repair and found out I needed a flapper. I immediately went outside to catch a bird. They flap, don’t they? My wife however stopped me and suggested I go to Home Depot. And lo, when I spoke to the man he showed me a flapper. In fact, he showed me a whole wall of them. A flapper is a piece of rubber, usually red, which flaps over a hole. Don’t I sound intelligent? The thing is I didn’t know which one to buy. Fearing the loss of my man card, I didn’t ask the man again. I reached up and picked the one marked ‘Universal’. Then I went home and in just under two-hours I installed it. You see Universal means it works but you have to make adjustments to it. Adjustments require you to read the instructions, and since I’m not about to do that, it took a little longer.

Then I connected the chain. There is a hook at the end for just such a purpose. I gave the toilet a trial flush and viola, nothing happened. You see the universal chain is way too long. I was able to shorten it and yes, the toilet flushed. I was happy for almost twenty-four hours. That was when I noticed the thing was running again. Upon inspection I saw the chain was still too long and was getting caught under the flapper holding it open. Another adjustment and it was too short preventing the flapper from fully closing. Frustrated I went link by link to establish the correct chain length. If you want to know, it’s thirty-one links from flapper to hook.

Three days later the toilet was running again. Why, I wondered? I went back to Google and it told me I needed a flapper. I guess Google doesn’t know everything. I inspected the toilet thoroughly and found the handle was sticking slightly.  This caused an intermittent problem preventing a proper seal. Back to Home Depot. The new handle cost $2.50 and yet provided a thousand dollars’ worth of frustration. I won’t give you the details but after three scraped and bloody knuckles, a cut finger requiring stitches, and an unbelievable flood of cursing which put me in the record book, I learned the handle is reverse threaded. Once I learned this, the rest of the installation went smoothly.

Then the horror began again. You see, the new handle is not exactly like the old one, and it has three places to connect the flapper-chain hook. Now, I am not only counting links, but I am counting links three times in an effort to figure out every possible combination to create the most perfect seal. I’m not going to tell you what it is. You figure it out. You could ask Google but they’ll tell you, you need a flapper. So there.

Well, it has been six days since my last toilet skirmish and I was about to claim victory, until last night when my lovely wife came to me saying, “I thought you told me you fixed the toilet. It’s running again.”  I smiled and assured her I would get to it. Inside my brain was exploding.

Well, you know what they say. It’s not a project til you’ve been to Home Depot three times.

If you have comments, want to discuss what makes Home Depot a great vacation spot, or have me take a sideways view at your favorite topic. Send me an E-Mail at ohhssidewaysview@gmail.com I’d love to hear from you!

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