Tuesday, December 27, 2011

In Praise of Toilets

 I vaguely remember, as a very young child, having to use a chamber pot on a cold night -- probably at my grandmother's house. 

And I remember the cold walk onto her back porch in Porterdale, Georgia, where a cold little room had been added, with the cold seat.

I remember the path from the back door of our neat little parsonage in Dunkinsville, Ohio, out to the tiny smelly little shed with the bench punctuated by a couple of oval holes cut into it. And similar little sheds with crescent moons cut in their doors at little country churches like the one at Cartecay, Georgia. I remember Boy Scout camping trips and the temporary latrines we dug with our little camp shovels. I remember getting out the camp shovel again when our well went dry out in Booger Hollow, after Sheila and I were married, and finding a private spot in the woods near our little log cabin.

Well, folks, I have moved uptown. For Christmas this year I have purchased and installed an American Standard, Cadet 3, Dual Flush, Elongated Bowl, Water-efficient toilet: the very lap of luxury. Thanks to Deena (not her real name) this was not a blind choice.

You see, I am a card-carrying member and a director of the Coosa River Basin Initiative. This is the premiere environmental group in northwest Georgia. The CRBI mission is to conserve and protect the water resources of our wonderfully diverse watershed. And, I have to admit, for years, Sheila and I have wasted great amounts of water every day through our relatively new but highly inefficient toilets. Two flushes have been necessary as often as not, and each flush was using a couple of gallons of formerly pure water. So when we needed to call in a plumber to repair a toilet, we decided to use the opportunity to upgrade. I headed out to the a local big-box home supply store to find an efficient replacement and found Deena.
I had located the row of toilets and ascertained that the store carried two dual-flush models. Each offered a choice of one gallon or 1.6 gallon flushes and proclaimed itself wonderfully efficient in evacuating whatever contents necessary. Both were "chair" or "comfort" height. The pricetags were were the only obvious difference: one was $99, the other $198. The enthusiastically helpful Deena was johnny-on-the-spot (pun-intended, of course) to help me reach the right decision for my family. 

"Now, Mr. Shaw, both of these are good toilets. But the Cadet 3 here has a stronger flush, and you know what that means. If there's something left in the bowl, now what do you do?"

"Well," I sadly admitted, "I flush again."

"That's right, Mr. Shaw, and there goes the water savings right down the toilet. With the Cadet 3, one flush will do. Use the button on the left there for Number 1, and the one on right for Number 2. That's all it takes."

I was a little concerned about the height of the bowl. After all we have used a standard height bowl all these years. Would we find the higher seat uncomfortable?

"Well, now Mr. Shaw, we can put your mind right at ease about that. I think you'll find the 'comfort-height' just right. Just step right on over to our displays on the main aisle and try it out."

Deena led me to the busy main aisle, pointed to one of the "comfort-height" models, pulled out her tape measure to demonstrate its exact height, and then with a sweeping gesture invited me to sit and test it out. She observed with folded arms as I nestled my nether regions onto the porcelain throne, while assorted Romans with bemused expressions pushed their buggies past us. I expressed my approval of the comfort afforded by the increased height as a young family strolled by and the Daddy greeted me with "Hey, Mr. Shaw! I'm Jackie, remember me?" 

I laughed with Jacky awhile and explained that I was "trying out toilets". He reminisced about witnessing a pre-school child trying one out more completely at a different big-box store. 

"Oh, yes," Deena exclaimed, "we've had that happen right here. We have to cordon off the area, put up hazardous material tape, and call in a team in rubber gloves and masks to clean it up!"

Despite that disturbing image I was sold. Deena called in a young man to lift the 100 lb. box onto a flat cart, and I bought my 2011 Christmas present for myself. I got it up the stairs at home all by my self - no small feat. It is now installed and, I must say, flushing beautifully.

And I went online to sing Deena's praises at www.bigboxhomesupply.com -- I may not have gotten that link exactly right.

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