It was a dark and stormy night when my son made an ill-fated decision to flush an empty Brother ink cartridge down our toilet.
My son has autism, so some of his decisions are...unique. He’d flushed other things down the toilet before — Play-Doh, doughnuts, etc. — but never anything so hard and unforgiving. I didn’t know what he flushed this time ... I wouldn’t find out it was an ink cartridge until several hours and a thousand dollars later.
First Attack Fail
I attacked the toilet with a plunger and a puny plumber’s snake, but couldn’t clear the clog. We had guests coming the next day, so we needed the toilet fixed immediately. I called a 24-hour emergency plumbing service.
“It’s $200 for the service visit,” the person on the phone explained. I agreed to the price.
Plumber To The (Expensive) Rescue
The plumber arrived within an hour, but was unable to clear the clog with his heavy-duty snake.
“I don’t know what’s in there, but it ain’t coming out,” he said. “The next step is to pull the toilet. That’ll cost $400, plus the price of a new gasket.”
I needed the toilet fixed, so I agreed, even though I could have replaced the entire toilet for that price. But the toilet was clogged...the plumber was there...the guests were coming...it was a dark and stormy night...what else could I do?
Pay Up, Toilet Boy!
I could break out the checkbook and pony up. The plumber removed our toilet and hauled it out to our backyard. We stood in the rain with flashlights examining the mysterious porcelain twists and turns of the toilet pipe. The plumber got his fingers on the clog but couldn’t extract it.
“It feels like a plastic rectangular block and it’s really wedged in there,” he said.
Back On The Bowl
“You’re going to need a new toilet, and I’ll need to go back to our warehouse to get it,” the plumber explained. “And it will cost $1,000.”
“What? Can’t I run down to the Home Depot and buy a toilet and have you install it?” I asked. “I’ll pay for the labor.”
“Sorry, we only use products from our own warehouse to ensure quality,” he explained. “But labor is included in the price.”
You can guess how this story ends. Unless I wanted my guests to squat over an empty hole in the bathroom floor, I needed a toilet. Immediately. So I forked over the cash, and bought what must surely be one of the most expensive toilets on earth. I hope my guests appreciated it.
Most importantly, I needed to prevent this situation from happening again, so I did the only thing that made sense. I bought a laser printer.