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Flush your troubles

Toilet, sink rebelling? It could be worse

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I don't want to sound paranoid, but something strange is going on in our basement.

It began the first night we got back from a two-week vacation to the West Coast, and the basement toilet, apparently feeling unappreciated, decided to violently launch itself into reverse-thruster mode.

That is just something toilets do as part of their international plan to bring modern homeowners to their knees. "You would not like me when I am angry!" is the defiant motto of rebellious toilets around the world.

A day after we had cleaned up in the wake of the toilet's uprising, we heard another ominous gurgling and discovered the sink behind the basement bar had joined the revolution, backing up and spewing foul-smelling sludge all over the rec room floor.

My wife insists it had something to do with our finicky dishwasher, which makes sense, because modern plumbing fixtures and appliances are united in a global conspiracy to seize the reins of power from their human overlords.

"We attack at dawn," our dissatisfied toilet apparently told all the other unruly fixtures in our home. "Prepare to overflow!"

As I write these words, a crackerjack team of human plumbers is launching a full-scale counterattack in the basement, using the latest in plumbing technology to crush the rebellion and send our troubles, along with several hundred dollars I had hoped to spend on a new barbecue, down the drain.

Not that I am complaining. Yes, it was kind of a soggy way to finish off our vacation, but the thing is, there is always someone who is worse off, especially when water is involved.

I am thinking here of my brother, who recently took his family on a joint vacation with his brother-in-law's family to a lake in the B.C. Interior. The general idea was they would spend a week with the kids zipping around on his brother-in-law's fancy new high-tech speedboat.

Naturally, when they plopped the boat in the water it refused to function, and the local boat mechanic advised them he would have to send away for an expensive computer component to make everything shipshape.

Of course, the component was shipped to the wrong location and, when it finally did arrive, the boat still refused to function, which is when the mechanic explained they would have to send away for an entirely different and even more expensive computer component that would definitely, possibly get the boat to work.

So that's what they did, and when that component was installed days later, everyone stood on the beach to watch as my brother's understandably frustrated brother-in-law, with his fingers and toes crossed, carefully fired up the boat.

"Hurray!" everyone on shore cheered with glee as the boat's fancy inboard engine roared to life.

"Oh no!" they all shrieked in horror seconds later when my brother's brother-in-law immediately drove over a nearby sandbar, sucking several pounds of grit into the fancy engine, which, as you have already deduced, died on the spot.

Which is the precise moment when my niece and nephew learned some extremely salty new words to use when things do not go exactly as planned on a modern vacation.

Speaking of modern vacations and water-related woes, my wife has just shared a tragic story about one of her close friends at work, who was lucky to survive a recent fun-filled pre-wedding motorcycle trip with her adventurous husband-to-be.

It seems they were riding through Alberta and, when it came time to bed down for the night, they were unable to find a vacant motel room or a spot in a campground. So they did what I am told a lot of motorcyclists and RV enthusiasts do, namely head to the nearest Walmart parking lot for the night.

After buying a couple of comfy sleeping bags and a tarp, they found a cosy spot on the parking lot's green space and tucked themselves in for a good night's rest before resuming their bike trip.

Which was an excellent idea other than the fact they had placed their sleeping bags directly on top of the automatic sprinkler system, which turned itself on at 1 a.m., leaving them terrified and thoroughly soaked.

The vacation/plumbing point I am trying to make is it is important to remember no matter what mishap occurs, there is always someone who is having a far worse time of it than you are.

So, even if things are looking a little bleak at the moment, it would be a waste of time if you tried to complain.

Because there is no way I'd be able to hear you, not with all the gurgling coming from my basement.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 23, 2013 A4

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