There, I fixed it

Two weeks ago, I showed my son There, I fixed it! which is a website devoted to “epic kludges and jury rigs.” Kiddo#1 was laughing so hard he was crying at some of the ways people “fixed” things.

(I’m sorry, but this is another major-backstory post because it doesn’t make sense unless you know all this stuff, and I assume you guys don’t remember the time I told God I needed a new car-repair story for my novel about the auto mechanic, and the next day my battery died because God loves me.)

About a month ago (more backstory) I was working again on that novel about the auto mechanic, and at the same time, our toilet stopped flushing. I opened it up and figured out the flush lever had cracked, so the next day I toodled over to Angelborough Hardware And Other Crap, purchased a flush lever, and returned home to install it.

While doing that, I heard my auto mechanic character telling her niece, “The best thing a woman can learn to do is fix a toilet by herself,” which later led to not one but two amazing scenes for the novel, one of which is quite possibly the most romantic toilet-fixing scene in the English language.

(Or, not.)

Because, you see, God loves me, and He knew the book needed a much better ending sequence than it had.

And now we advance the calendar to Thanksgiving Day, when we were making Thanksgiving dinner. Guests were to begin arriving at 1:30.

At 1:25, the main floor’s toilet’s flush lever snapped.

Remember what my Toilet-Fixing Mechanic Heroine told me? That the best thing a woman can learn to do for herself is to learn to fix a toilet?

I opened up the toilet, diagnosed the problem, then told my Patient Husband, “Find me some beading wire, some baling wire, or as a last resort, some string. Oh, and something I can use as a handle.”

I removed the defunct flush lever. I tied a string to the chain attached to the flush valve. I fed the string back through the hole where the flush lever would have been attached to the outside. I replaced the ceramic lid and gave the string a tug.

And it flushed. After that, I only needed to find a handle, which turned up in an unlikely place and conveniently said “Handy.”

There. I fixed it.

The epilogue:

My mom bought a new flush lever the next day and replaced it herself. I guess she didn’t like my string. Or, she has common sense. But it was good while it lasted.

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About philangelus

Mom, freelance writer, novelist, angelphile, Catholic, know-it-all.
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12 Responses to There, I fixed it

  1. capt_cardor says:

    Absolutely beautiful!

  2. Ivy says:

    I’m probably going to get in trouble for this but…

    Once a client called with an issue running a report. I took remote control of his machine, and it turned out he’d toggled one setting incorrectly. I changed it and it worked. Two minutes, start to finish. Should be good, right? Well said client is a lawyer of a certain personality type.

    Lawyers of a certain personality type seem to think they are physically incapable of the slightest mistake, and the rest of the world is comprised of two people: the angels who praise them, and the devils who seek to defame their infinite perfection. I witnessed one such screaming at a secretary for listing her on one internal memo as “Legal assistant” not “Associate” with the kind of intensity normally reserved for “Give me back my baby!” This was a week after the blow up where the lead partner on a case was listed below the senior partner in the To line of an e-mail.

    So, this particular lawyer could not accept that he had clicked the wrong check box. It had to be the program. It had to be the database. It had to be something other than him making one incorrect mouse click. Never mind the report was working, and that he’d confirmed the output was exactly what he wanted.

    So I got into the database and ran about a dozen select statements, then select statements with joins, then displayed a few stored procedures, then select statements from views. All of this did nothing but display information I didn’t need, but the longer the statement, the happier the lawyer apparently. I told him I needed to check something here and typed a few paragraphs of a manuscript. I ran more select statements, just as complex as I could make them. I put him on hold again and did more writing. I got him back on the line and told him the problem was in the index of the access log (the access log doesn’t have an index) and that I’d have to rebuild it. I ran a count on the number of records in the access log. I re-ran the same report with the correct settings and asked him if it was fixed. He looked it over and was very happy.

    • philangelus says:

      You were clearly giving his problem the attention it deserved. 😉 Fixing it fast meant he should have done it himself. But if it took an IT tech 4 hours to fix it, then obviously he couldn’t have done it himself: his time was too valuable for that!

  3. cricketB says:

    LOL. I used to work at Girl Guide/Scout Camp. I enjoyed the 12-15 year olds. They were often city kids. Yes, I got good at plain speaking and fixing plugged toilets. Since then, I’ve dragged many embarrassed teens back into stalls to show them how to stop the flood. My kids both know two ways to stop the flow.

    I was discussing the value of dissection in science class last night. I’m on the line. It turns many bright kids off science. The ethics are questionable. However, for many kids it’s the first “real” science experiment — where it’s isn’t so dumbed down that it’s guaranteed to work, or the teacher has no clue what to do if it doesn’t work. (Correct answer: Neat! Let’s see why you got different results.) There’s nothing like getting your hands into something real, dealing with an organ that keeps slipping out of place and obscuring another, cutting the wrong place, a genetic abnormality, a dull scalpel. Moving brightly-coloured pixels around isn’t the same.

    Fixing toilets is real world. They learn to improvise. They learn things don’t have to be perfect. Repair is a lost skill these days. Remember when all real men changed their own oil? All real women sewed their own hems? (All real women knew hems could be shortened?) One of the reasons I was impressed with OnebitCPU was his home was filled with things that actually worked. It wasn’t a question of paying someone or letting it go — they hauled out the toolbox and fixed them.

    So, yes, I agree. Learning to fix a toilet by herself is is the best thing a woman can do, because it’s the start of fixing many, many things.

    • Ivy says:

      And it saves a lot of money.

      *Beginning of rant*

      My laptop’s DVD burner died. I don’t blame it. I wore the poor thing out. It lasted longer than it should have. The computer is relatively new, and I didn’t want to replace the entire thing.

      So I called the manufacturer and asked about getting it repaired. Cost of repair: $400. That put me in the market for a new computer. However, I poked around their parts department. Cost of a new drive: $75.

      The drive is secured into the laptop with one screw. It’s a five minute job, and only that if you count the time it takes for the machine to boot up again and recognize the new hardware. I bought the drive and swapped it myself.

      *End of rant*

      A vendor near here wants $200 for a two-year warrentee. It doesn’t cover things like the hardware malfunctioning or anything like that. All it means, and they’re straightforward about this, is that if the machine fails they’ll restore the software to the initial state. That’s right, $200 to be sure you always have someone on hand who can follow the on-screen instructions and press three buttons. You still have to do the Windows setup yourself (the date and time, the user administration stuff, etc).

      • cricketB says:

        One of the local electronics chains doesn’t pay commissions to their sales-people, but fires cashiers who don’t succeed in selling enough store-brand warranties. Our car manufacturer spent hundreds trying to sell us an extended warranty. A friend had to pull out the extended appliance warranty (which “somehow” never made it into the store’s computer) and read it to the repair man.

        I can understand cost of shipping plus $100/hr including overhead for the repair, but $400? Ouch.

        • Ivy says:

          I can’t understand $100 for something this minor. It should come as a courtesy service with the drive, like winding yarn at the yarn shop. Heck winding a hank of yarn takes a lot longer than swapping a drive and the profit margin is lower on the yarn.

          Hmm, reminds me I have to wind two hanks of yarn tonight.

          • cricketB says:

            I’m still waiting to see which of my many wish lists Husband looked at. Ball winder is on one of them. I’ll definitely take the sock yarn on the travels, just in case. (Even if I don’t get the winder, it’ll still get wound.)

  4. hthrb says:

    That’s ingenious! Well done you.

  5. Jen says:

    But the question remains… did you submit your fix to the blog? 😉

  6. Ken Rolph says:

    When I was young, all toilet cisterns looked like that. Except with a wooden handle instead of a tin opener.

    But that was a long time ago. My grandfather used to keep last years copy of the Pink Pages, saw it into quarters, drill a hole in one corner and hang it next to the loo. It was our toilet paper. Luckily real toilet paper arrived before the Pink Pages became the Yellow Pages. I can’t imagine living with a yellow bun with black streaks.

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