Along with three loft beds, two separate examples of homemade, cinder-block-based furniture, and a refrigerator that would shame the Grinch, my new apartment features two bathrooms. Jack and Gene share one, leaving the second to me alone. This throws my normal resident-to-toilet ratio so out of whack it's a little ridiculous. Growing up, we had a few years of sharing one bathroom between six people. Then, after the remodel, it went to a 4:1 ratio, with the other 3 besides me being girls.
It got worse in college. Each year, five toilets were split between 32 hall residents, plus whatever guests or significant others happened to be there. At Ward Street, it was again 4:1, plus girlfriends, but at least the overwhelming maleness and one resident's consistent 45-second showers kept things manageable.
So now, I have my own bathroom. Waiting for a shower, or holding it are things of the past. The only downside is that my toilet kind of sucks. It seems to flush with very little water, often requiring me to depress the handle multiple times. It looks gross, because it is gross. I decided to take some action.
I called our landlord, Scott. Scott is a lawyer practicing out of Auburn, California, who manages our building because his dad is the owner. Scott occasionally stops by for repairs, such as when our neighbors' bathroom ceiling collapsed. At such times, he always apologizes for his profuse sweating, and he never removes the headphones of his Walkman. The general impression we have of him is that of a nervous fraternity pledge, stammering and awkward, yet chummy. We could probably bully Scott into making a beer run if we were forceful enough.
Scott returned my call tonight, a week after my original call. I explained to him the nature and grossness of my toilet problem. He was sympathetic, and suggested I examine the toilet tank. I lifted the the ceramic slab, and Scott began to explain in detail how I could incrementally adjust the level of the float ball.
"You may need a screwdriver to remove it - actually, I'd take the whole thing off at..."
At this point in the conversation, I was shocked to discover a glass jar full of dirt inside the toilet tank.
"Oh my God!" I exclaimed. "Scott, it looks like there's a glass jar full of dirt in here! I think I found the problem! Wow, this is so weird!"
Scott paused, only momentarily. "Well, as I was saying, if the float ball is higher..."
"Oh, wow, there's another one! Two glass jars full of dirt, in my toilet tank! I'm taking them out. God, where did these come from?"
Scott seemed to understand I was distracted. "Yeah, that's a, uh, water-conservation device. We may install, uh, low-flow toilets in the future... we reserve the right to do this..."
Only then did it dawn on me that Scott had placed the empty condiment jars, full of dirt, in my toilet. Since his dad's company pays for our water, he was trying to save an incremental amount of money each month. All of my embarrassed, labored flushing for the past three months, all of my self-conscious toilet brushing, all of this was due to Scott being a cheap, cheap bastard.
That is offensive, to be sure. He tried to gouge us on one of the most basic tenant rights; that of expelling human waste from one's place of dwelling. But now that I've had a chance to reflect on it a bit, I realize Scott's cheapness is not nearly as offensive as referring to empty glass condiment jars full of dirt as a "device". He's not just insulting my intelligence, he's insulting the whole English language.
The toilet flushes like a beaut now, by the way.