, Derry, New Hampshire


May 15, 2014

Column: You need more than the right parts to get the job done

I used to know my way around a toilet tank.

Back in the day, as a 17-year-old weekend motel maintenance man, I’d get the call to work my magic on rogue commodes. I’d remove that heavy porcelain cover, jiggle this or bend that, and voila, problem solved.

Fast forward to the present. The handle on my downstairs toilet wasn’t cooperating. It still worked, but it took more force to engage it. I jiggled it, loosened it, and tightened it again, but my tried and true method didn’t work this time.

As always, Plan B is to simply wish my problem away. I thought maybe, just maybe, if I wished hard enough, the bathroom fairy would sprinkle her magic dust on my toilet, then all would be right in my world.

My wife, Betty, offered a more practical solution -- watch a YouTube video and fix the thing myself.

Where was YouTube 40 years ago, when my car overheated in the dead of winter and I was forced to solve the problem creatively? Oh, I know, I’ll pull out the garden hose and fill the radiator with water. A few hours later, my car wouldn’t start because the radiator’s innards were incased in ice. But I digress.

Sure enough, thanks to that five-minute video, I learned that a toilet handle is simple to replace. I managed to remove the plastic part without dislocating my shoulder or flooding the bathroom floor.

On to the hardware store, with the old handle in tow. Normally, my excursions through the plumbing department don’t end well. I almost never find what I’m looking for, and when I ask for help, I’m reminded yet again that I don’t speak the strange language of the handyman.

But I lucked out this time. I found the same brand in the exact same size, and most importantly, it was the identical color!

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