Plunger or Snake?”


“The toilet’s not flushing right.”

The quiet morning evaporated in an instant. My hard-of-hearing husband heard the words “toilet” and “flushing” and sprang from his chair. “Did the water go all over the floor?”

Like an operative on a special mission, he strode to the offending appliance. After several minutes pushing the handle down and watching the water rise, he looked at me. “The toilet’s not flushing right.”


He left the scene to gather his equipment, jaw set, shoulders squared. I’d been down this road before.

I grew up in a family of plungers. You know the device—a red rubber bowl mounted on a handle. Apply the bowl over the hole and push. Physics takes over as the water must move under the pressure of the inverting rubber cover. Within a few plunges, the toilet clears and the water flows. I don’t remember ever having to call a plumber to fix a clogged system.

Somewhere in his job as a lineman for the county, my husband developed an affinity for snakes. Not the squiggly ones who scare you in the grass, but those long, silver coils that hook onto a handheld drill (man’s favorite tool) and wind their way into the unknown. Once they find their target they wind their way back, often bringing part of the problem with them.


My husband worked the snake several minutes, but without success. “Something’s wrong inside,” he said, tapping the toilet. “I think a piece got into the system and is blocking the snake.”

I doubt if it’s porcelain, darling.

Not long after, he left and returned with the hand truck. Yep….the hand truck. He had disassembled the toilet and was hauling it outside. “Found the problem. Obstruction at the base.”

He wasn’t kidding.

While he worked on flushing the appliance outside, I turned to the wall inside. Mildew had formed behind the toilet and I proceeded to clean it. He returned with a paint brush and mildew-resistant paint. I steam-cleaned the floor and once he had the toilet re-installed, I sanitized the bathroom.

I can’t say the day was wasted. We had new paint, a renewed toilet, and an experience not soon to be forgotten.

Still, I wonder what a plunger might have done.


2 Replies to “Plunger or Snake?””

  1. I loved your toilet message!

  2. I loved your toilet message! Made me laugh.

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