The rollover to year 2000 had some people worried. I noticed, the more they were worried, the less they knew about computers. I tried to explain, “You seem to think they’re working now! They aren’t! They crash every day. Armies of technicians are constantly shoring them up and patching them back together again.”
But the people who wanted to be worried, worried. There was a lot of money in keeping them worried. The worst I ever saw started off, “Will your toilet flush?…” Where did they come up with that? There is nothing computerized in a toilet, or even electrical. But I guess a lot of people find the inner workings of a toilet to be the deepest of mysteries. And thereby strikes the root of fear.
Going to bed on the night of December 31, 2009, it vaguely crossed my mind how people had been so upset about the millennium rollover. I wondered, just maybe, if there were some possible, unnoticed residual holdover. Something that would go wrong on a future New Year.
On the morning of January 1, 2010, my toilet would not flush.
Always work on pluming when stores are open. New Years day is such a solid holiday, I didn’t even consider tearing into it. It was easy enough to take off the lid and dump in a few gallons of water to force the flush.
There, inside the open tank, sat the shiny new mechanism of the toilet. I had installed it the end of October. I couldn’t see anything wrong. However, it simply would not fill. So, no flush.
Frozen pipe? It had been way colder a few weeks ago, and no problem. I tried the shower, which was on the same line. It was fine. Good. To a man, a shower is much more vital.
Still, I mused on it through the day. I was sure I’d be able to diagnose the problem. It was just a matter of water flow. However, it could wait a day or two — till the stores were open.
The most disturbing aspect was that it was so mysterious. Immediately I thought, what if I had done a house trade? What if some friends were living here, while I was off on a carefree trek somewhere. I’d get a call, “The toilet won’t flush!” Suddenly my trek would be anything but carefree.
I was sure it was something simple. It had to be. But when household objects don’t work, and they are supposed to, situations can go all out of balance. Plumbers get called, and run up big bills. For nothing. Maybe it was just a grain of sand in the supply line. I was sure I’d find it. Later, when the stores were open.
By the next morning, I’d had an idea. I remembered I had hooked up the new toilet with a supply line that had a special “flood safe” feature. There was a valve in the line that would lock closed if the water flow was too sudden. It cost more, but I’d figured preventing a flood would be worth it. My water heater had spewed at one point, and it had been a drag drying out the cellar.
I took off the supply line and blew through it backwards, hopefully to reset the valve. I put it back, turned the water on, but still no toilet fill. Well, the problem was somewhere near that point, because water had surely been leaking out the end of the shutoff valve.
Within a few hours, it was solved. I had found my receipt, which was still within the 60-day return window. I had swapped the “flood safe” for a regular supply line. I had even got a few dollars back on the trade. The toilet was working again.
I figured the risk of a flood, which had never happened from the toilet supply line, was less inconvenient than a mysterious shutoff. Yeah, I could deal with a mysterious shutoff. But not unto ourselves alone are we born.
For awhile, I went in and flushed the toilet a couple times a day, just to enjoy it.