Monday, July 17, 2017

"I Broke Your Toilet"

“I Broke Your Toilet”

Copyright 2017 by Paul Willey

Some of you know this story from May, 2013, but I’ve never told the story in full detail at once because I was too tired to write it at the time, and I have I have some new insight that may explain why some things happened the way they did.  I just put the pieces together yesterday when retelling a short version of the story to my cousin. It's a rather "simple" explanation that gave me some new insight.
It was only about 4 months after my worst MS flare ever and I needed a Snowmobile Ambulance rescue from camp because I was completely immobile.  It was a long-planned trip around the country to see our son, family, friends, sightseeing, and the last thing I wanted to do was cancel this trip.  I got the medical OK from a new Neurologist.  We had a new accessible van as well to make the trip easier.   We were on day 49 of the 9,700-mile road trip.  I was completely exhausted.

We'd hit the road early that day and our hotel room still wasn't ready even though I called ahead early.  To kill time, we went to a small diner style restaurant chain across the street.  I had to go to the bathroom, and it was down a narrow hallway past the same exit the wait staff used to exit the open diner style counter area.   I got to the single toilet bathroom and it didn't meet ADA guidelines.

I'm USUALLY a hell of a driver with my wheelchair.  Especially with the front wheel drive chair. Pin-point control.  I wasn't that day though, I'd already run over Lori-Ann's foot with my wheel chair.  I was stuck earlier because I drove one wheel over the edge of the van's wheel chair ramp and Lori-Ann was fighting to get me rolling again. She was not happy when I ran over her foot after fighting to get me off the edge of the ramp.  (The wheelchair weighs nearly 600 lbs with me in it and it does not technically include a winch; as of this moment I plead the 5th.)   

Back to the bathroom; as I backed in next to the toilet so I can at least close the door. I heard a loud snap and a splash.  Water was almost instantly traveled past my wheelchair and down the floor drain.  I looked and the toilet was twisted off its base and the bolts are broken.  I thought for a moment, "No biggy, I can hide this, and swing the toilet back into place." 
I didn't wonder why water was still gushing by me at first.  Then, I looked up at the tank.  I hit the toilet hard enough so that it twisted and the tank broke as an edge hit the wall.   The tank looked like someone split it with a splitting maul right down the middle, a perfect V open about six inches at the top with both sides still on the base of the toilet.  Water was  still ran past me like crazy before it ran into the floor drain. For a few moments I was pondering how to get out of there without having to mutter the words, "I broke the toilet."

I looked down at the water flowing the full width of the floor.  I was already in the stream of water and had to drive through it to get to the door. I could visualize a trail of water with my all 4 of my tires going right by the counter exit area so I knew there was no escape.  I drove out and stopped a waitress by the counter exit. I told her, "I broke your toilet." The expression on her face was priceless.   She looked very confused for what seemed like an eternity. Then I realized she didn't make the wheelchair connection and then I told her I hit it with my wheelchair trying to back up. Then she understood.  I can only imagine the thoughts going through her mind at first.  

Then I proceeded to go back to the table with Lori-Ann and I tried to tell her what happened.  That is when I got the "MS giggles". I COULD NOT tell her or hardly speak a word. I was using hand gestures and trying to talk that way. Then, I tried to draw an invisible picture on the place mat.  Finally, after I don't know how long it was, before I searched for a drawing app. on my phone.   I had to draw what the toilet looked like before Lori-Ann was able to understand what I was talking about.  It took at least 15 minutes.

Towards the end of the meal, I felt a hand ever so gently placed on the shoulder opposite of where I was looking.  I turned to look and it was the manager. She had already squatted down next to the table.  She told me not to worry about it, and it's OK with a real sympathetic look on her face. I thought, and always thought all these years it was kind of strange because I'd been laughing the entire meal and feeling guilty about my behavior with the, "MS giggles".  If I was a manager, and I saw this guy laughing, even if it was an accident in a small bathroom, I’d be thinking, “What an Ass!”

It took me over four years to realize how the restaurant staff must've seen me.  I'd been bowing my head down and turned away, with occasional sheepish looks, putting my hand on the back of my head like I was shy and bashful, and trying not to let them see I was laughing, but my entire body was shaking and they may have thought I was crying.   I realized they probably thought I was "special" because I was also using a lot of hand gestures trying to talk to Lori-Ann. They saw me using my phone to draw on an attempt to communicate because I was having trouble talking at times. We were both showing each other comments from our road trip through our FaceBook group via our phones. To top that off, I wore pajama bottoms most of that trip because I had a lot of pain in my legs and they were very comfortable.  I don't think I was wearing my "Superman" T-Shirt that day though.  Then, of course, there is the Wheel Chair factor as well.

They must think the world of Lori-Ann as a Social Worker because she was taking me outside to a restaurant.  She let me try to go to the bathroom on my own, too.  She let me order my own food, and she even let me pay the check and leave a tip.   Of course, they don’t know where we normally live.