A few months ago, our toilet seat cracked at the hinges, and because tenants in Mexico are expected to make minor repairs themselves, we embarked on a multi-week journey to find a new suitable toilet seat.
We knew the toilet itself was bulky, ugly and awkward, but we hadn’t really thought about how it was also ceramic and incredibly heavy. Meaning, old, outdated, and irreplaceable. Even in this land where flat tires can be endlessly patched and electrical wires endlessly strung, every plumber we consulted said “no mames.” We told our landlady this, and she suggested we visit a mercado in Colonia Doctores (known for its high rates of car theft!) that specialized in plumbing products. We, being nice people, did not throw major temper tantrums, and decided to embark on this adventure.
So, wasting a weekend morning, Brendan and I tucked a 15-pound broken ceramic toilet seat into a bag (that poor bag) and went to the mercado. We stopped by several vendors and pathetically pulled out the broken seat. They all tried earnestly to hunt down a replacement seat, while we stood around and admired the rows and rows of plumbing accessories.
Again, the message was the same: No mames.
We reported back to our landlady. So she sent over a plomero, Senor Gerardo, to have a look-see himself and see what he could do. He decided to caulk it back together. It worked. For about a week.
Because all the caulking material was bulky, the seat sat at a strange angle, and even though my buttocks are incredibly tiny (like a small deer’s, really), the toilet seat broke under the pressure. DISCLOSURE: The actual breakage occurred while the husband was using it.
So we were back to the toilet seat drawing board.
This time, we did one of my favorite hobbies — nothing — and let the problem fester. However, in recent weeks, we realized we’ve got several visitors arriving in late January, and it really wasn’t fair to make them suffer by sitting on 2/3 of a toilet seat, the broken portion digging into their skin (although I contemplated telling them it was traditional Aztec style and seeing how far that got me.)
We emailed our landlady a photo to show her just how bad things had gotten:
My Microsoft Paint attempt at highlighting the special issues facing our gimp toilet seat. I apologize for posting this photo, but this is what my life has been consumed by lately, and I need to share my pain or else I'll start posting even worse photos. Before you freak out about how unclean we must be, THIS TOILET IS 50 YEARS OLD!
She decided she’d finally break down and buy us a new toilet. I was treated to a return visit from Senor Gerardo, who is as pleasant as a plumber can be, and incredibly patient with my lack of Spanish plumbing vocabulary.
On Monday, he removed the the old toilet, and placed it on cardboard, scooting it from the bathroom to the elevator, preventing god knows what sort of leaking stains from forming on the hardwood floors. He took the elevator to the lobby, and I assumed, dropped the toilet off in Toilet Heaven.
Then he installed the new toilet. When I heard “Ya!” I jumped up from my desk and went to congratulate him. A new toilet, a new day! Gracias, Senor Gerardo! He asked me if I wanted to see it flush. How could I say no? We stood in the bathroom, watching the water go down. I tried to seem very impressed.
I thought, once and for all, this saga was over. That I’d soon be christening the toilet in peace, saying a silent prayer that all this humiliating toilet talk was over.
But no. He tells me to go with him downstairs. So I do. While in the elevator, he asks me “are you here all day?”
I thought he was making conversation with me. “Si!” I told him. I brought out my well-rehearsed lines. (I get defensive when I think the locals assume I’m a housewife, even though there is no higher calling here for a female — it’s a sign of familial wealth.)
“Yes, all day. I work at home, as an editor for two web sites in the United States. I have much work.”
Gerardo nodded his head and pursed his lips as if to say “well how fucking great for you, kid.” Then he had me follow him to an empty room in the lobby, where our old toilet sat waiting, looking lonely, like a lost friend of The Brave Little Toaster. Gerardo tells me I’ll have to flag down the garbagemen who show up every afternoon at indefinite times, and bribe them to cart the appliance away.
“Great!” I faked, seething that the discarded toilet was not truly gone from my life. All my happiness disappeared. “No problem,” I lied.
(Also, in the empty room, I discovered our old water heater, which also was replaced recently by Gerardo after multiple attempts to kick-start the old decrepit heater failed….I had assumed it too was in its final resting place and was made even more annoyed when he explained it too would need to be disposed of, by me.)
After listening to my extensive whining about yet another household task I’d have to deal with simply because my office is located within our home, Brendan man upped and told me not to worry — he’d bribe our doorman to bribe the trashmen, leaving me mercifully free of having to manage this task any further. It worked!
The long toilet saga finally ended yesterday, when our toilet was loaded up on the garbarge truck, and taken to Toilet Heaven. No mas no mas no mas!