Monday, May 23, 2011

The Handyman

I am not a fix-it guy. Even the most basic of household repairs are lost on me Perhaps this is why I was never a fan of Home Improvement....well, either that or the fact that the show used one plot for, like, nine seasons. But still, when it comes to fixing a simple problem around the house, I'm that guy who will call up a handyman/plumber/electrician/IT dude/mechanic/friend plied with the promise of a pizza and-or beer as payment to come in and take care of things.

Some might argue that, as a grown man, I should at least have the basic wherewithal to take care of myself in the face of a technological malfunction. Suppose the Rapture had indeed taken place two days ago and, since carpenter Jesus is part of a theological trade union and wants to pay his dues in the best way possible, all the world's handymen had been sucked up to heaven. Who would've fixed my plumbing then? Satan? Almost certainly not. If history has taught us anything about the devil, it's that he's singularly unhelpful. I know at least a few friends who've had renovations done on their houses who would claim that contractors are, in fact, the devil.

But anyway, back to my laziness. It's not *laziness,* for one, it's simple common sense. If I'm dealing with my car or my pipes or something important, I'd rather not fuck around and end up making the problem worse. Why try to be a hero when the end result could be a wrecked engine, water spewing everywhere in your bathroom or a piano dropped on you from three stories up? You forget, my life is basically a sitcom -- almost any situation I undertake can and will develop into some zany shenanigans that will be retold by my friends years down the road as one of "Mark's moments."

Anyway, all of this is preamble for the fact that this time, I ignored all of this common sense and had to take the bull by the horns. Last night, I returned home to the apartment to discover the toilet handle was broken. As in, it could be pushed down, but the tank wasn't emptying. Thankfully, I discovered this problem after I'd just used the toilet for, er, a fire drill, rather than a full-scale evacuation. ('Number one' and 'number two' are so 20th century.) But still, this was a big-time problem.

My first step was to go to bed. It was late, and also, whenever possible, I subscribe to the Homer Simpson method of problem-solving, a.k.a. hiding under a pile of coats and hoping that somehow everything will turn out okay. But, waking up early this morning, I realized that I simply couldn't sleep until I'd at least taken a stab at the problem. This was our apartment's only toilet, after all, and I don't know anyone else in the building whose toilet I could borrow in case of emergency. My building isn't too far away from stores and businesses, but a) public bathrooms are generally nasty and b) continually going from store to store over a couple of days to ask if I can use their restroom is pretty TF.

It's at this moment that I'd once again like to praise the invention of the internet. In days of yore, I would've fiddled around with the toilet for hours. Today, I just Googled 'toilet tank repair' and bam, ten thousand sites popped up. I quickly identified the problem was that the lift chain (the thing that connects the toilet handle to the main flushing mechanism) was disconnected. After a bit of trial and error in finding where on the chain to re-attach it to the hook to gain the proper tension for flushing, the problem was solved. Easy as 3.14159265. After a few practice flushes to make sure things were completely back on track, it was safe for a 'maiden run,' so to speak. I believe it was the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson who once wrote that "No piss is as satisfying as the one a man takes when he really has to go, and it's in a toilet he has fixed with his own bare hands." (Ok, I didn't study a lot of Emerson.)

Two comments...

1. I'm sure there are many of you shaking your heads and saying, "Mark, re-attaching a lift chain is child's play. Did you seriously just write a long post praising yourself for completing a very simple task? What next, a novel about successful tying your shoes?" To this I say, fuck off, I'm proud of myself. And what else do you want me writing about, dreams about parking tickets?

2. Just in writing this post, I'm of course seriously tempting fate by assuming that the problem is *fixed.* For all I know, I may have done the toilet equivalent of plugging a cork into a dam. While I'm patting myself on the back, the pressure is building and building and I'm going to have a toilet so screwed up that it's going to either explode or gain sentience like SkyNet and personally kill me. Never fear, if something goes go wrong in the follow-up, I am not so proud that I won't write a follow-up post titled "Well, I'm A Moron." For maximum irony, feel free to print that post out and read it to pass the time when you're next using the toilet.

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