We just got back from the East Coast. During our travels I spotted three signs which caused me to ponder and to utter a slang phrase aloud, “Say what?” I realize the sign makers are trying to send a message to the public, who gets to use their bathroom facility for free, to not abuse the plumbing system in order to avoid a clogged toilet. But are the signs on target? Is the message contained in each sign unmistakably clear enough?
While England’s Sir Thomas Crapper did not actually invent the toilet, he is known for having manufactured and promoted the toilet as a sanitary sewer device. Sir Crapper might roll over in his 1910 vintage grave if he saw any of these signs next to his highly touted device.
I have ample experience with unclogged toilets. I started using Thomas Crapper’s device right after I was toilet trained. Toilet training for me was so long ago I do not remember exactly when, but I am confident I was toilet trained on or before the 3rd grade which was around 1951.
I never lived in a house with an outhouse, but I was forced to use an outhouse a time or two during my early travels.
If you have had any experience with outhouses, you know two things. #1: An outhouse includes a dirt path leading out into the cold foggy night air. #2: The nice thing about outhouses is they are impossible to clog.
I have ample experience with clogged toilets too. My experience started when I became a rental property owner. Forty plus years as a rental property owner brought me more clogged toilets than I can count.
Clogged. Unclogged. The two words generate an interesting question. Why is it I have a toilet in my house for over 70 years and it never gets clogged; not even one time? Why is it toilets in my rental houses and apartments have too many clogs to count? What is the difference?
The clogged toilet phenomenon is like an intelligence test. Unclogged indicates an intelligent person occupies the home. Clogged often, but not always, indicates an ignorant person occupies the home.
When my renters called in the middle of the night to report a clogged toilet, I called the plumber right away to solve their problem as quickly as possible. Everyone should have a working toilet.
My attitude and excellent service certainly negated the need for an abominable program like The City of Lakewood’s new combination Rental Housing Safety Inspection and Constitutional Rights Violation Program.
But here is the deal. Remember my toilet has never clogged in over 70 years, so the toilet test obviously indicates I have at least a minimum level of intelligence to function in society. I am not stupid.
So using my intelligence, I required the plumber provide me with a Cause Report every time a renter complained about a clogged toilet.
If the cause report indicated a root had grown through the sewer pipe or if the cause could not be determined, the plumbing bill was on me. A root through the sewer line is not the renter’s fault. No stupidity can be assigned here. As a landlord, I need to pay that bill as a part of my responsibility to provide the renter with a decent place to live.
If the Cause Report indicated the sewer line was clogged with broccoli, a diaper, or a clump of illegal marijuana because the cops were knocking at the door, than I back-billed the tenant. The renter pays for the plumber. Yes, stupidity will allow renters and the public to think of a toilet is a garbage disposal, a place to get rid of evidence, or a fun place for a renter kid to toss a toy truck or ball.
When you think of it, most signs should not be necessary. If you see a sign and you think, that sign is warning people to not do something really stupid, it means someone has already done something stupid.
Business owners do not hold meetings in conference rooms to brainstorm what kind of stupid stuff people might do in order to decide what signs to post. That is not what happens. What happens is first someone actually does something stupid and then secondly the business owner creates a sign.
Speaking of signs, lets look at the three signs I spotted during my travels.
Sign 1: Most of this sign makes sense, but then there is the part of the sign that some may consider to be politically incorrect. “Foreign Objects”. Might they be referring to Muslim terrorists? That’s not right.
Sign 2: The English portion of this sign is fairly standard and understandable, but the Spanish part seems over the top. While I do not speak Spanish, it seems easy enough to translate that they are suggesting patrons not throw tires down the toilet.
Sign 3: If we follow the directions on this sign, it is guaranteed there will never be a clog. “Do not throw toilet paper in toilet”. I guess this proves not only can renters and customers be stupid, so can property owners. Now that is true equality.
While I would like to write some more, I am flush out of ideas.
P Rose says
I can’t afford to retrofit my rental property sewer lines to 10 inch pipe, so I simply don’t rent to people with young children, or those who exhibit low intelligence.
John Arbeeny says
Beware! Not renting to families with children might run afoul of anti-discrimination laws either in the way you advertise (“no kids”) or in the way you handle tenant applications (disqualify an otherwise qualified tenant). There are undercover government EEO inspectors who are testing landlords for compliance.
Joseph Boyle says
You are right, John. While I think P. Rose was kidding, I do remember the days when we legally advertised, “No children & No Pets”.
No children saved a lot of trouble along with wear on our rental properties.
On the positive side I adjusted to the new law and ended up with some great rental kids.
Two rental kids come to mind; Stevie and Lisa. Their father went to Viet Nam leaving them and their mom in my duplex. We lived next door. I served as the male role for Stevie until his father returned.
Stevie had a speech impediment. Every morning he would run out his back door and knock on my sliding patio door. When I answered the door, he would ask, “Mr. Boyer, do you have any woik for us to do today. Boyer and woik were not the proper words, but I spoke his language. I was always working a project during my younger years, so he was eager to join me. I often wonder where that family is now.
I don’t get your joke on the Spanish-language sign. Maybe you should read a book or get out of the house every now and then.
Joseph Boyle says
Not everyone gets all jokes, so do not feel bad.
Here is a hint. The Spanish sign reads “No tire”.
I actually support your suggestions of getting out of the house and reading a book. All three signs were spotted when I was out of the house in Delaware and I read 2 1/2 books going, coming & during being out of the house.
It is possible you and I are not so far apart after all.
Well if you’re well-rounded, then I feel it’s less probable that the off-color racial humor and mentions of Muslims as terrorists were accidents…
All the recent terrorist attacks in the USA have been carried out by caucasians – just like you probably are.
V. Jones says
My plumber suggested that if I want to throw something in the toilet to test it out first. Place your object in a glass of water. If it dissolves in a week, then it is safe to go in your toilet. This would rule out flushable wipes that are not really flushable.
Ray R says
I remember being in Europe where some of the older buildings don’t allow toilet paper. There was a can for that. Now, that is bad plumbing.
Ken Karch says
From time to time I have come across the following note above men’s urinals: “Please don’t throw cigarette butts into the urinal…it makes them hard to light.”
nancy copeland says
Only a man could spend this much time “In the toilet.” LOL