“Look,” I said, trying very hard to keep my temper in check. “I know you’ve had a plumber out here to look at the toilet three times already but I’m telling you, there’s still something wrong with it. It flushes itself without warning. Sometimes three or four times in the middle of the night. It’s disrupting my sleep.”

“No, no it’s not leaking, Harry, but…” I could feel my blood pressure rising as the conversation with my landlord continued. “So you’re telling me that I just have to live with it because you’re too cheap to try and find out what’s really wrong with it. Is that it? Fine!” I ended the call without warning and stalked into the kitchen for another cup of coffee and a third piece of coffee cake.

When I first moved into this rental home ten and a half months ago, I was elated. The house was everything I had been looking for: three bedrooms, an updated kitchen, a fenced yard for Alice the dog and very reasonable monthly rent. The problem with the toilet started the first night I was in the house. There I was, happily unpacking boxes and organizing the house when I heard the unmistakable rush and flow of water in the toilet. It’s only me and Alice here and Alice doesn’t use the toilet.  I was a bit spooked. I checked the bathroom and all the other rooms in the house. Only us. I shrugged it off.

For the first eight months of living here, the self-flushing toilet wasn’t too much of a problem. It would happen once a week or so, usually late at night. I got used to it. But then it started to flush itself every night, always sometime between midnight and four in the morning. I would wake up to that sound, startled and confused and vaguely irritated. That was the first time I had a plumber take a look. “Nothing wrong.“ He said.  “It’s in perfect working order.” My ass! But I couldn’t replicate the problem for him so he packed up his tools and left.

Then a few weeks ago, the problem intensified. Instead of waking up to the infernal flushing noise once during the night, it began to happen three, four, sometimes five times a night. Can you imagine? Being pulled out of a deep sleep by the whoosh and swirl of a toilet is disconcerting, to say the least. The plumber came back. And back again. Still nothing wrong. But in the wee hours of the morning, the toilet continued it flush fest.

Last night was the worst. I put my pajamas on, fixed my bedtime bowl of ice cream and gave Alice her bedtime cookie. After that, we watched a little TV then turned out the lights and went to sleep. At midnight, the toilet flushed. Again at one am. And again at two, at three, at four. When I heard the water running yet again at five, I was already jittery and sleep deprived. I got out of bed and stomped to the bathroom, flicking the light switch violently. “What the hell?!” I yelled as I glared at the toilet. The seat was up. Now I’m a single woman living in a house with a dog. I never lift the seat unless I’m cleaning. The hairs on my arms prickled and I shivered as I stood there. I’d never tell my landlord this but it felt like someone had been there, someone who neglected to put the seat back down this time. “How goofy and silly womanish can you be?” I thought.

So this morning I called my landlord again and he refused to have the plumber come back. As much as I love this house, I simply can’t live with the toilet anymore. I picked up the phone and called him back. “Harry,” I said. “Sorry I hung up on you earlier. Look, I wanted to let you know that I won’t be renewing the lease on the house. I hate to move again but things are not working out for me here.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” he said. “It’s the toilet, isn’t it?”

“Yes, Harry, it’s the toilet. Silly, I know. But I can’t live with it the way it is.”

“Um, let me ask you a question,” he said. “I hesitated to ask this before but have you seen a doctor lately? See the house used to belong to my brother. He got up one night to go to the bathroom and keeled over from a heart attack while he was standing in front of that very same toilet. I only ever had one other tenant complain about that toilet and he ended up having a quadruple bypass a couple weeks after he moved out. So if you haven’t had a check-up lately, you might want to think about scheduling one. Well, guess I’d better start looking for a new tenant. Good luck to you!”

“I don’t need a doctor” I muttered as I hung up the phone. “Once I say adios to this place, everything will be fine.” I reached for a mini Snickers in the candy dish and the toilet flushed itself again. Damned thing!


© Karen Kleis –  All Rights Reserved

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