Recently, I left the house.

Surprising, I know.  But this isn’t a tale about what happened when I left the house.

It’s what happened when I got back.

I stepped into my foyer and just happened to glance up at the ceiling. There was a brown horseshoe-shaped stain against the white.  I didn’t remember seeing it before.

And it was right under where my powder room toilet sits on the floor above.

I’m no handywoman, but even I knew this was not good.

A few days later the plumber cut a hole in that ceiling and confirmed the obvious—the toilet had been slowly leaking for some time and needed, as did the bathroom subfloor and the chunk of stained ceiling.

I never liked the pattern on that floor anyway.

“You have another toilet, right?” he asked.

When I confirmed that I did, he completely removed the toilet and I stored it in the basement.  For those of you home improvement types, the toilet itself will still work, but the flange is the problem and will have to be replaced.  For clueless types like me, that’s the ring around the hole in the floor that you stick the toilet into.

At least I think so.  At this point in the plumber’s explanation I sort of zoned out and began wondering how big the bill was going to be.  It was a job I couldn’t do myself, and therefore the details weren’t all that important.

I was left with a hole in the floor, but I still had that upstairs bathroom.

Or so I thought.

When nature called after dinner, I used the upstairs bathroom, but when I went to flush, the handle on the toilet didn’t want to go down.  Perplexed, I tried jiggling it.


I took the back of the toilet tank off and nothing was obviously amiss.

I tried again, giving it some real torque, and the handle snapped off into my hand.


Within the span of about six hours, I’d gone from two working toilets to zero.

And though mathematics might claim otherwise, the difference between zero toilets and one toilet is a lot bigger than the difference between two toilets and one toilet.  It’s the difference between full on panic and temporary inconvenience.

The flooring man wasn’t coming for ten more days, and I didn’t think I could hold it that long.

After frantic further inspection, I realized the tank level was broken and the handle would’ve been useless even if I hadn’t snapped it off.

I surveyed the situation.  With desperation running high, I had a wild hope that this was a problem I could fix myself.

So I took myself off to Lowe’s with the broken part in my pocket.  My preferred method of shopping for things like this is to find a sales clerk, hold up my broken version of the part and say, “I need this.”

However, Lowe’s was packed.  Packed!  It was like Black Friday in there.  I guess there’s nothing like a quarantine to spur you on to tackle that long delayed home improvement project.

There were no free employees, so I put on my big girl panties and found the necessary part myself.  (I also picked up some hand sanitizer and a bottle of Lysol.  The Lowe’s selection of cleaning products is diverse and well-stocked.  Just something to keep in mind as you’re prepping your second wave bunker.)

I’m as shocked as anyone to say that the repair of toilet number two proceeded quickly, smoothly, and successfully.

I was back up to one working toilet.

If that doesn’t make a person breathe a sigh of relief, I don’t know what will.