One Flush, Two Flush, Three Flush, Four

15 Nov

Social anxiety is the fear of social situations that involve interaction with other people. Put another way, social anxiety is the fear and anxiety of being judged and evaluated by other people. If a person usually becomes anxious in social situations, but seems fine when they are alone, then “social anxiety” may be the problem.

Fun stuff, lemme tell ya.

Recently, my own personal version of social anxiety has been slapping me in the face and kicking me in the balls (it’s worse in late fall and winter). In past therapy sessions, I was told to rate my current anxiety level on a scale from 1 to 10. The anecdote below helps a little for outsiders, linking my anxiety levels to actual circumstances.

My goal on Nov. 10 was to install a new sump pump in our rental house. The new tenants already had keys to the house and I didn’t know if they’d be there on this morning. He’s a Maryville cop, night shift. I think she stays home to care for their four boys. The parents both have insomnia issues, so I felt confident that I would find the house full of unopened boxes, but void of people if I got there early enough. I dropped Ainsley off at school at 9 and went straight over there.

No cars in the driveway. Yes! (anxiety level, 3)

In the basement, I ripped the new sump pump out of the box and looked down into the dirty, smelly hole at the old one. I noticed that the pipe was too short to make this an easy swap-out deal. I’m plumb-ignorant, meaning I know nothing about plumbing. My anxiety dropped from a 3 to a 2 when I realized I wouldn’t be sticking around very long. I did a couple fist pumps and some basic dance moves to celebrate.

As I peeked from the basement window to check the driveway status, I, uh–I felt–okay, I’m having a hard time trying to write this part. It’s embarrasing. More so than usual. I had to use the bathroom…sitting down. Poo, ya know? Geesh, that was more difficult than it should have been. I spent several minutes on this teeny paragraph.

Anyway, I went upstairs, checking out this strange family’s boxed up belongings on the way. I went into the main bathroom, sat down, yadda yadda yadda, stood up, flushed.

Normal toilet sounds. Water swirling, whirling. But slowing too quickly, something off.

No, no, no, no, don’t do this to me. Go on down, get out of here, poo poo.

It didn’t go down.

Are you sh*!%ing me? (anxiety level, 4)

I flushed it again. The water rose.

Flushed again. Rising.

Oh my God! (anxiety level, 5)

The water was two inches from the top.

F**k! (anxiety level, 6)

Without rifling through their stuff, I looked around for a plunger (what are the odds of a plunger sticking out the top of a cardboard moving box when most boxes were under other boxes?), upstairs, downstairs, and in the garage. Nothing. I went back to the scene and grabbed a toilet brush (This brush was ours from some previous cleaning.). I just knew that if i jammed that brush down into the hole, it would fix everything. It was a shallow clog, I thought. The water had receded, so I pushed it down into the opening and moved it around a little. Then I flushed.

Oh boy, stupid idea (oh you KNEW that, huh?). (anxiety level, 7).

The water was back up to the rim. What was once clear, was now murky. I stood there, right hand on right hip, left hand on chin, staring into the swamp, horrified.

In my head, I was making up conversations with the cop who I knew would be showing up any goddamn second with a moving crew.

Yeah, I know this is your house now, but can you please not go into your bathroom right now?

(This is where I decided to delete the whole part about removing the toilet brush and cleaning it off. I hadn’t thought of the consequences of this not working BEFORE I jammed it into the hole. If it had worked, I could flush it clean several times.)

I jogged out to the car and glanced at my watch. I felt better being outside. (Anxiety level, 5)

My new mission was to buy a plunger (or find an unemployed plumber) as fast as possible. I went to a newly-built Casey’s gas station down the road and found nothing but a small bottle of Liquid Plumber. I scanned the label: DO NOT USE IN TOILETS. Crap. Borrowing Casey’s own restroom plunger crossed my mind.

Back in the car I thought a 30 minute round trip to Collinsville was inevitable. (Anxiety level, 6)

Then I remembered that Maryville had a Walgreens.

Hmm, a plunger at Walgreens? Maybe. (Anxiety level, 5)

Their selection was sparse. I found the smallest, sorriest-looking plunger in the history of toilet clogs for five bucks and one of those larger, accordian-style plungers for eight. I grabbed the big one and joined the checkout line, wondering if the woman in front of me could sense that I was in the middle of a crisis. She looked at me twice. Was it written on my face? Splattered? I raced to the car.

Now on the way back, speeding a little, I prayed to God (and I don’t pray) that no one had showed up.

Steve, come here, quick! This guy, what’s his name–Mike? He hardly says 10 words, then comes into our house just to f**k up our bathroom?  (Anxiety level, 7)

Still no cars in the driveway. Yes!  (Anxiety level, 5)

Now bent over the toilet, I’m trying to figure out this fancy piece of poo-dislodging equipment: turn 1/4 turn to open air-release valve. Huh? The water had receded again, so I stuck it down there and started pounding.

I flushed and the goddamn water slowly rose again. Oh, come on, man! (anxiety level, 9)

I read the label again, slower this time, and learned that I needed to close the air-release thing once the plunger was through the water and in position. Then I was back at it with quick, efficient up and down strokes, thinking of my next move if this failed.

Then, that sweet sound. Suction, then release, flowing water, disappearing muck.

Yes! (anxiety level, 3)

After that, I felt like The Cat in the Hat at the end of the story when he cleaned up that horrific mess in, like, 2 minutes, leaving no trace of his previous shenanigans.  Crisis averted. (anxiety level, 1)

4 Responses to “One Flush, Two Flush, Three Flush, Four”

  1. kmurphy16 November 15, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    I feel like as I was reading this, my anxiety fluctuated the same way yours did–great blog!!

  2. Linda November 16, 2011 at 12:31 am #

    Oh yeah I was about to bust a gasget reading this one. I have toilet phobia and I have already had to use two public toilets today!!!! Now do tell. How on earth did you clean that toilet brush? Where did you clean it? If you took it out of the house how did you do that with no drips? Come on tell me what did you do?

  3. chad February 6, 2012 at 10:47 pm #

    hhahaha this is an awesome blog.


  1. Bad Day (hey, I like that song) « People Scare Me - December 1, 2011

    […] was the goddamn sump pump. I wrote about that sump pump here in a different […]

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