One of the nice things about having two toilets in a home is that you can relax about keeping both of them able to handle everything. As long as one of the toilets has full flushing capacity, the other can limp along in a delicate state, being used only for the easiest jobs, until you’re good and ready to replace it. Our upstairs toilet is in this category. Yeah, it’s kind of annoying having to traipse downstairs if you are upstairs when you feel a need to use the more capable toilet, and in the winter we wish our downstairs bathroom were better insulated, but it’s working out . . . for those of us who live in the house and know the eccentricities of the upstairs toilet.
Trouble can arise when we have guests, though. It’s so embarrassing to clog up the toilet in someone else’s house that we’ve had some guests not mention it, which sets up an unpleasant discovery for us or another guest. Unclogging a toilet is even yuckier when it’s clogged with someone else’s poop than when it’s your own! So we want to avoid that problem, but it’s difficult to remember to warn guests about it when they head for the bathroom, and it’s hard to figure out what to say to explain the situation clearly without embarrassing everyone!
The night before a recent visit from friends, I suddenly remembered when I visited some relatives years ago and, while giving us a tour of their whole house, they said, “This is a Number One toilet. If you’re doing Number Two, it’s better to go to the other bathroom.” (Just in case you’re not familiar with these euphemisms, #1 means pee and #2 means poop.) That was pretty discreet and clear, but they did have to remember to say it. However, thinking of it gave me an idea:
I made a “prize ribbon” and stuck it on our toilet lid. I cut it out of two pieces of scrap paper, a circle of yellow paper and two strips of blue paper with V-cuts in the ends to make them look like ribbons. On the circle, I wrote, #1 Toilet!. On the ribbon, I wrote, Please take larger challenges downstairs.
We always keep the lid of the toilet closed when it’s not in use so that
- the germy water doesn’t spray around the room when you flush
- anything I drop or knock off of the shelves (I’m the clumsy one in the family!) doesn’t fall into the toilet
- there’s no need to argue about leaving the seat up, because lowering the lid means lowering the seat; seat-raisers can lower the seat and lid together and need not complain about doing more work than seat-users
so the prize ribbon is visible to anyone entering the bathroom. We hope that guests will realize that, in order to make sure the next person sees it, they need to lower the lid. (We haven’t had enough guests since awarding this prize to see whether it makes a difference.)
Reactions so far have ranged from much laughter and “What a great idea!” to not mentioning it. But my favorite thing about our toilet’s award turns out to be the way it affects my attitude. Instead of grumbling about its inadequacy, I’m feeling sort of proud of it or at least amused by it sitting there showing off its award. It works for me!