A vortex of “fail”

Only after a week have I managed to shake the New York City Death Virus, even with Gwinn’s help. Because of that, I haven’t managed to get out of the house to buy…a bolt.

Let’s back up: before I crashed, one night we were watching TV when we heard an unusual sound from the toilet just off the living room. When we investigated, we found water on the floor around the toilet, proving once again that the best way to have a plumbing disaster is when you happen to be right there alongside it. I shut off the water supply, tracked down the leak to this one bolt, drained the toilet tank, dried it out, removed the bolt, and decided probably the washer needed to be replaced. Set that aside for when the hardware store would be open — except then I got sick and never got there.

On Saturday, my Patient Husband bought a new washer for the bolt and then decided to get a matching one for the other side of the tank. When he removed the toilet tank, he found the gasket was rotting (and may have been the source of the leak all along) so he pulled that off and brought it back to the hardware store, only to discover it’s a non-standard size. I may need to order a $2 gasket online.

Sunday morning, my Patient Husband woke me up with “Good morning. We have no hot water.” The hot water had failed a couple of months earlier, so I figured it was the same problem again. No, this time, the whole heating system had failed. We called the oil company to come take a look. The answering service said the tech would call back.

Twenty minutes later, no call. That was unusual for them. I looked at the phone and realized the guy had called, twice, only the phone had taken it straight to voicemail. I called him back, only the phone company repeatedly refused to put the call through. “We’re sorry,” said the cheerful recorded voice, sounding anything but sorry, “but all circuits are busy.”

Every other number on earth worked, by the way. I called the main number and we gave them the cell phone number, and then the oil tech guy was able to talk to me. “Did you push the Magic Button?” he said.

Yes, there’s a red button on the side of the heater, the only user-enabled part on the monster living in my basement. In terror, I pushed the button. The heater started right up. For twenty seconds.

“I’ll be over in an hour,” the guy said.

While at the hardware store, my Patient Husband had bought an augur because one of the upstairs toilets has always been slow. I found him taking it out of the package. “Oh, good, it even has instructions.”

“Please don’t,” I said, terribly conscious of the vortex of FAIL hovering over our house. One toilet. The heater. The phones. “We only have the upstairs toilets right now. With our luck, you’ll puncture the PVC piping and disable the upstairs toilets too.”

He looked concerned. “Is that a danger?”

I replied, “Only for us.”

He saw the wisdom in that. And now, we wait for the heater guy.


  1. Cricket

    One week to for the toilet job to grow 3 steps. Very efficient.

    1. philangelus

      What happens if it takes another week for the gasket to arrive?

      1. Cricket

        You have a week before discovering the next interesting [1] part of the project.

        [1] Interesting used in the sense of “interesting times”.

  2. lbdiamond

    Oh dear, we must have similar vortices (sp???). The plumbing in my house is pretty similar. We fix one spot, another leak springs up. Tend to that, somewhere else blows. Oy.

    Good luck with the repairs!

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