On Sunday night, my wife came out of the bathroom to tell me that the handle on the toilet had broken. I had no idea these things could break. Like the rising and setting of the sun, I believed its constant, uninterrupted motion would never have to be considered.
The moment this news hit my ears a slight panic set in. Would I need to call a plumber? Possibly go to the bank to get a small loan to cover the expense? These are normal, conditioned thoughts that run through my head whenever I hear such news. It can be brought on by anything from a collapsed sewer line to a loose door handle.
Once the reality of the gravity of the problem sunk in, I realized, as usual, that I may have overreacted in my mind and I go to look at the pending problem.
Removing the toilet tank lid I peeked in. At first glance it seemed like it might be a bit complicated. There was all sorts of intricate moving parts that were in play. Each one serving some function needed to properly have the contents of the toilet make its way to places I would never want to visit.
It seemed the handle was connected to a plastic stick which was connected to small chain which was connected to a rubber flap which forced upwards when the handle was pushed exposing a giant hole where water rushed down which made the toilet flush. It was very Rube Goldberg like and I was fascinated.
All I would need to do, I surmised after minutes of careful consideration watching with fascination the process over and over again (which consisted of using my hand as the handle and stick and pulling the chain upwards myself), was to somehow find and attach another handle and stick.
I turned to my old friend the Internet who not only keeps me amused with mindless videos of insignificant things that have no bearing on my life but also, on rare occasions, helps me in situations such as this.
I quickly learned that the piece I was looking for was called the toilet lever and that it could be purchased at the local hardware store. Not only that, the installation seemed easy and seamless and I should be able to complete it in one afternoon (if not slightly into the evening as well).
Early the next morning I drove down to the store and, after ten minutes of searching, finally found the section where things like toilet levers waited for someone to purchase them.
Not wanting to call attention to myself and ask for help in selecting the proper one and exposing my ineptness with such things, I used my best judgement, which with my level of expertise is merely a guess, and grabbed the one I thought might work and paid for it.
I didn’t have time to attempt the installation until after work. No matter how hard I tried during the day, I couldn’t stop thinking about what the night would bring. Had I purchased the correct piece? (The package claimed it would fit any toilet…I had fallen for that scam before.) Would it be a quick and easy installation as was claimed? Would I fail and need to go back to the store tomorrow and search for a human to help me, meanwhile my wife and I having to submit ourselves to another night of plunging warm hands into cold water to pull up on the flapper?
These are the things than can strain an otherwise happy marriage.
At lunchtime I watched an Internet video over and over on how to install the lever (okay, I watched a couple of cat videos as well). It seemed easy enough, but these guys were seasoned pros when it came to installing toilet levers.
Finally it was time to face my demons.
I arrived home and went right to work. There was no sense trying to find other things to occupy my time instead of getting to the project. After all, this was the toilet and there could be no procrastinating.
I took a deep breath and removed the lever from its package. I bought it into the bathroom, stopping first to give my wife a kiss for good luck.
I removed the tank lid, unscrewed the old handle, removed the flapper chain from the broken lever, and then made my first attempt to attach the new one.
I am proud to report that the attachment of the toilet lever went flawlessly, every thing worked exactly as I had been shown. I could now add another project to my very short list of home projects I could successfully accomplish.
Sometimes it feels good not to know how to do many handy things because when you finally do something handy, no matter how small and maybe not really even considered handy, it feels good.
Let’s hope things around here stay quiet for at least the next twenty years.
Brendan Smith is the author of “The Flatlander Chronicles” and “The Best OF A F.O.O.L. In New Hampshire” Autographed copies are for sale at www.BrendanTSmith.com