Hartley: Things that are bad substitutes for toilet plungers | AspenTimes.com

Back to: Opinion

Hartley: Things that are bad substitutes for toilet plungers

You know that feeling you get when you flush the toilet and the water starts going up instead of down? Jerry Seinfeld called that situation arising at a party "the most frightening moment in the life of a human being." I agree completely. But even when you're just at home by yourself, it's still a terrifying predicament.

Fortunately, the horror has only befallen me a handful of times over the years, no doubt because I'm so dainty and eat such a sensible diet. And, as luck would have it, I actually know exactly what to do in that situation, which is to turn off the valve on the pipe running to the toilet before the soiled water spills out over the top of the bowl.

There was a time, I suppose, that I didn't know that, and I'm trying to remember what sort of thoughts used to go through my mind in those moments of panic. I can't recall for certain, but I imagine I thought things like "find a toilet plunger," "grab some towels" and "run for it and blame someone else."

One thing, however, that I'm sure I never thought when faced with a clogged toilet was, "I'll just reach in with my hand and pull out the clog." In fact, if pressed, I would have guessed that no one had ever thought that thought. I mean, possibly some drunk guy who just didn't care anymore, but no way would a female human ever think something so gross, right?

Wrong. Just last week a woman in New Caney, Texas, had that very notion when her toilet clogged, so she went right ahead and did it. And here's the best part: The only reason I know about it is because she got her hand stuck in the toilet and had to call firefighters to come free her.

When they got there, the firefighters couldn't figure out how to get the arm unstuck, so they had to remove the entire toilet and march it and the woman outside, where they smashed away part of the toilet to liberate the arm. The woman's friend caught the action on camera, and the video is hilarious.

But in all seriousness, let this be a reminder to all of us to make sure we keep our phones charged and on our persons any time we stick our hands into toilets. I mean, imagine if the woman didn't have her phone and lived by herself. She could have been stuck there for days and had to sever her arm Aron Ralston-style with an emery board. Ah, but what a hero that would have made her.

As it is, I imagine the woman will more likely be thought of as not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I know that smart people do dumb things, too, but I got the sense from reading about her and watching the video that the New Caney woman won't be joining Mensa anytime soon.

In addition to getting her hand stuck in the toilet, the woman also admitted to getting her car stuck in the mud in the front yard. This might seem like no big deal. We've all gotten stuck in the mud, sure, but what the hell was she doing driving in her front yard in the first place? Have you ever driven a car in your front yard while sober?

In the video, the woman can be seen gripping tight to her coffee while she and the toilet are escorted out of the house and into the yard. Granted, this doesn't make her dim-witted per se. I'm sure lots of intelligent people drink coffee. But it does serve to make the woman appear decidedly blase about the whole affair, as if it were the sort of thing that happened to her all the time.

Now, I'm not here to pass judgment on people — at least not today — and, really, I should be thankful for folks like the toilet woman because they give me stuff to write about each week. But let's face it: That woman was probably with stupid, so if you're with stupid, too, learn from her mistakes.

First, never stick your arm into a toilet to try to unclog it. You'd think this would go without saying, but apparently not.

Second, if you have to poop and you know you'll be bringing some serious heat, do yourself and the toilet a favor and figure out where the shut-off valve is before you go.

Todd Hartley only drives on other people's front yards. He calls it performance art. To read more or leave a comment, visit http://zerobudget.net.