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.