Well, folks, for some people, it would take a lot of effort to put so many varied opportunities into one day. I pulled it off with hardly any effort at all.
It sort of started with a brand new commode I’d installed two or three weeks ago. A week later, while indulging in the subtle ecstasies of crawling around under the house, I noticed a little moisture under the bathroom drain. So I pulled the new commode up and found a tiny open seam between the anchoring flange and the drain pipe. Put a little silicone in that, put down a thicker wax seal and reinstalled the toilet. That seemed (pun intended) to take care of it.
Two days ago, while sanding drywall seams and patches, I noticed the floor was damp around one side of the commode. “Oh, boy!” I thought, “Another opportunity to cultivate problem-solving skills and develop greater expertise in this area of home maintenance and repair.” Perhaps that’s not an exact quote of what I was thinking but let’s pretend it was. The next morning, there was more water around the commode, even though it hadn’t been flushed in about eight hours. That meant water had to be seeping out of bowl, not leaking during the flush cycle. Not something one desires or expects from a brand new toilet.
So yesterday I detached the water supply, took the nuts off the anchoring bolts and lifted the commode off again. This time, I inspected the toilet as well as the drain. The drain looked fine; the silicone was still in place. There was however, a tiny crack running across the bottom of the toilet. In fact, there was a smear of silicone at one end of the crack, indicating the defect had been detected at the factory. Detected but not rejected as it should have been. Any number of people with experience in ceramics and/or porcelain can tell you that cracks seldom stop at the point of first detection.
“The bold look of Kohler” was going back to Lowes for a second look. I had four sheets of Hardie Backer™ to return and a sheet of drywall. This precipitated a “Three Stooges Meet the Keystone Kops” session of loading, unloading, rearranging and reloading that turned the ten-minute job into a thirty minute job. At one point, I had the drywall balanced on one side of the truck bed and the commode sitting on top of the cab but eventually everything was loaded and strapped safely and snugly into place.
As we were driving toward Ponca City, there was a sudden loud noise and a quick jolt. I thought we had a tire blowout and pulled onto the shoulder. Tire inspection showed all present and fully inflated. No tire damage. Couldn’t say the same for the drywall. There were two spots right at the strapping point where it had broken. Randa looked underneath the truck and solved the mystery. “The strap wrapped around the driveshaft.” I didn’t think the loose end was long enough to even reach under the truck much less get caught in the U-joint of the driveshaft. I was wrong.
We returned the materials and the really nice guy at the Lowes commercial desk even refunded our money on the drywall. We took the toilet up to the return desk at the front of the store and they promptly brought us another toilet of the same model. A friendly fellow helped steady the rocking roller cart while I inspected the replacement. It was almost identical to the one we’d returned. It even had the same evidence of repaired cracks at the factory. I left it sitting on the edge of the cart for a moment to go look for Randa.
The friendly fellow took his foot off the cart. The cart tilted toward the end where the commode was sitting. The commode slid off onto the concrete floor. The floor did not break, crack or even flinch. The toilet, however, became quite emotional. You could say it went to pieces. I broke it; I paid for it.
The friendly folks at Lowes brought up a third sample. Same inspection process, same evidence of factory crack repair. This one was returned safely to its box and we decided to go with a different brand of toilet. With any luck, I’ll have it installed by the time my vacation is over this weekend.
By some counts, it was a pretty rotten afternoon. A hundred-and-forty dollars lying in sharp pieces of porcelain on the floor at Lowes. Broken cargo strap and what have you. Another commode still to be installed…
But, in fact, I was still healthy, mobile and semi-agile. And by bedtime, the walls and ceiling in the bathroom were all sanded smooth and freshly coated with primer. And besides that, the Cubs beat the Dodgers 10-2.
It actually was a pretty good day. Most days are when I try to look at them that way.