ZERO PLUS 1267 DAY--New York, NY, Sunday, March
the bigger scope of things today, one doesn't think of a toilet
as a potential Terrorist. Not, that is, until its contents overflows
from the apartment above upon you and all your bathroom belongings.
Last night I was aroused
from a deep sleep by an incessant ringing of the doorbell. I
knew it wasn't the police because they bang and yell. Struggling
to get clothes on, I heard my wife asking who was there.
... is ... okay?? Is ... not okay??"
The building Super limped
and huffed into our hallway. He's far too old to be tromping
up fifty nine stairs--the elevation to our fifth-floor apartment--especially
at nearly 2 a.m.
okay?....is not okay?"
Joseph is Ukrainian.
Where we live in the East Village, the street is mostly Ukrainian
rooted. Things have changed over the years, but the "old
school" still has a firm grip on the block. Just a block
west of us is a huge Ukrainian church. Across the street are
Ukrainian travel agencies, and around the corner a Ukrainian
butcher and several Ukrainian restaurants..
Josef took one look at
the raining water sieving down from above into our bathroom.
Just two days earlier he had fixed the ceiling from a previous
leak more than a year, or was it two, earlier? Time slips by
flush by flush.
"It go three floors....aiyyyy...yieeee...yieee..."
And out the door hobbled Josef with his flashlight.
Now, I have this aversion
to toilet water dripping down over everything you own in the
bathroom. You just don't know what it contains.
In a New York building
aching because its more than 100 years old, you just don't expect
the plumbing to be that modern, and, you tolerate the fact that
like the United States, there may not be a lot of funds to retrofit
the infrastructure. Thus, when something goes awry, there's
a chance the whole building could collapse.
a toilet screams in NYC it's a part of life
Three years ago our daughter's
apartment building was threatened with extinction. Butted next
to another building that contained artifacts such as marble
statues, the owner of the building decided to remodel it without
seeking building permits. Seems he was knocking down a wall
without reinforcing the beams, and, because of the weight of
his statues, the whole building began to crumble.
Most construction in
the East Village doesn't exceed five stories because the structures
were made out of brick. Brick can only safely handle about five
stories. Only when steel was introduced could buildings soar
toward the underbelly of the sky. Bricks had limitations.
My daughter's apartment
was brick. So was the one that crumbled. There were a few days
when inspectors poured over the buildings next to the crumbled
one to see if, because everything was so close and seemed to
lean on every other building, there was any major structural
She moved back in, only
this time with a little more of a view because the building
behind her wasn't there any more.
So when a toilet leaks
and water showers down, if you're schooled in New York City
Village life, you don't jump up and scream. It's part of life.
our toilet crisis ...I got out the umbrellas...
But that doesn't make
it less Terrorizing. In Israel, suicide bombers are part of
life but that doesn't make one leap with joy when a bomb goes
off. In Baghdad shooting judges and lawyers defending Saddam
Hussein seems to be as common as picking one's teeth with the
pin of a hand grenade, but again, there isn't dancing in the
streets over such a death unless you're on the side of the "bad
It can be said, then,
that last night, half naked, drowzy, afflicted by hay fever,
I stood a bit dazed looking at the torrential flow of toilet
water from the toilet above.
What do you do in such
You think smart. I did.
I got out the umbrellas.
I put them over the toilet
and set up a defense so all the toilet products one buys and
stores on shelves wouldn't get ruined. That includes the shavers
and curling irons and hair dryers and other electrical items.
I snagged the towels
to safety, thinking of uccky toilet water from some unknown
source and mixed with unknown germs, dropping on the cloth one
dries one's sacred flesh with, and the idea of the unknown made
my pores pucker.
Unable to sleep, I waited
around until all the water stopped dripping. Then I scoured
the bathroom with Lysol, cleaned up all the "germs"
as best I could and sat waiting for the ceiling to collapse,
much as one might stand over a kettle of water waiting for it
to boil, or, peer dully into the neck of an hourglass watching
each grain of sand drip down so you would know when the end
of eternity was a few grains away.In
a toilet bowl, I couldn't go back to sleep.
But I wondered--just
how many toilets are there?
up our defense
It's hard to get an accurate
handle on United States toilets because the sites I went into
were locked down. To get info, you had to have a password.
Still, I know there are
some 100 million households in America, and odds are that there
is at least one toilet in each. Sixty million are owner-occupied,
so odds are they have at least two or more. That pushes us upwards
of 200 million toilets.
Now, there are buildings--offices,
hotels, motels, McDonalds, Starbucks--for another 100 million
Dollarwise, the paper
and plastics division of the sanitary distributor system racked
up nearly $9
billion in sales last year. The entire sanitary distributor
system topped nearly $20 billion.
In other words, there's
an increase in wiping and flushing.
But there's a ton of
websites that focus on toilets for guys like me who walk around
in the pre-dawn with an umbrella to keep the neighbor's toilet
water from dripping on my head.
One of them cites how
many times a person flushes
a toilet each day, and how much of our lives are spent on the
"can." It seems we spend about 2,500 hours on the
toilet during our lifetime, and make six to seven trips a day
to its "throne."
We forget how valuable
a toilet is until we don't have one.
There's also a website
on an international basis. Seems there's a "world
toilet watch" where you can report the status of toilets
anywhere in the world, including pictures, for those who like
to really plan their travel.
There are other organizations
that help you keep track of flushings and the history of toilets,
including toilet paper. Seems a man named Scott developed the
first toilet roll, but the innovation of the human mind was
way ahead of the curve.
Back in Roman times the
rich used expensive linen attached to a stick to wipe themselves,
and on a more crude side, sailors at sea prior to toilet paper
used the hemp anchor line to remove waste from their bottoms.
This morning I awoke
to a bathroom free from drips. However, there is an odd smell
Seems the plaster and
wood absorbed the toilet water, so we are spraying the bathroom
frequently and keeping the windows open to allow the flow of
air to perhaps remove the tell-tale odor.
Like any terror-riddled
nation, a bathroom that has been under toilet overflow attack
may have dangerous munitions still armed. Above, hidden behind
the ceiling, may be pockets of toilet water, and, god knows,
other unmentionable items that may have slipped or slithered
through the cracks and crevices of the neighbor's floors.
I am prepared. I have
my umbrellas at the ready. I have the Lysol poised.
I have taken my Pledge
of Toilet Vigilance.
I have Courage over Toilet
Fear, I have Conviction over Toilet Water Intimidation, and,
I have the arms to take the Right Actions to protect future
generations by spraying Lysol everywhere so I don't become Complacent
and the let the Germs of Toilet Terror ooze into my thinking.
So, the next time you
are sitting on the toilet, look up!
Remember, Terrorism can
strike anytime, anywhere!
Protect yourself. Go
to the bathroom with an umbrella and the Pledge of Toilet Vigilance.
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