|Delicate souls, look away now...|
Wherever I may be, shoddy workmanship, wonky pipes and temperamental toilets will find me.
In no particular order, a previous downstairs neighbor has had to have her apartment entirely redecorated - twice - after the one pipe in my kitchen burst; electric showers have either blown a fuse or spontaneously exploded when I have attempted to use them; a posh hotel lobby still sports a huge stain on its ceiling after the shower in my suite spouted a leak; the fire brigade had to be called in the middle of the night to help me and my hapless housemate locate a stopcock, and my hands have repurposed many kitchen implements around the world.
I lovingly refer to my hands as Ewok hands, not because they are missing digits, but because they are so small that I either need to get winter gloves from a kids' store, or find a brand that caters for XS adult mitts. On the plus side, my hands can squeeze into narrow places and have been doubling up nightly as a glass brush whenever for the best part of three decades.
Those versatile little hands of mine have also been known to clear up messy situations more than once. Knowing that I am naturally equipped with the tools for the job, fueled by embarrassment and determination in equal doses, and generally gung-ho about most things home-related - purely on the basis that I initiated my journalistic career many years ago as a home improvement reporter despite having no discernible DIY skills whatsoever beyond stapling, glueing and gaffer-taping things together - I seem to have developed a knack for fixing stuff most people wouldn't touch with a barge pole.
And by stuff I mean toilet.
If it can save me the shame and expense of having to admit to a third party that the vegan diet and my addiction to disposable paper products may have caused blockage, I'll get my hands dirty.
As a side note to the uninitiated, a vegan diet is a plant-based diet. Plant means fiber, fiber means hyper-regular bowels. In layman terms, a vegan poops a lot, often setting some interesting personal records in the process. In my case, those can sometimes span several countries - or states - in one day. Yes, I have bared my cheeks in the UK, Canada and the US in one 24-hour period before.
This also makes for mind stuffed with bathroom trivia. For example, the bowl design of the German toilet features a little examination shelf on which poop plops, should you wish to take a closer look at what processed food looks like; the Islandish toilet is chronically allergic to bathroom tissue and will block the minute a careless customer flushes anything other than human waste down it, and the British toilet is often operated by a handle that requires an energetic pull to do its job, causing mild-mannered foreign visitors to routinely spend an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom tutting to themselves because they haven't been forewarned that her Maj's john only answers to brute force.
And then there are those places where crouching, placing your feet on little side platforms and hovering bare-cheeked over a hole is expected, and the little wooden huts in the mountain that smell so ripe that even the flies won't go near...
But the Mercan toilet is the one dear to my heart, deserving a special mention for its perfect little vortex that renders that most ubiquitous of European bathroom companions - the humble toilet brush - almost redundant. Almost being the operative word because when you need to prod, the Mercan toilet leaves you with a big handful of nothing but your imagination to poke it with.
"You can take a poop without fear now", were the loving words I woke up to on Friday morning, when my beloved informed me that he had stabbed away the lump of toilet sanitizer that was blocking one of the flush holes and done away with the need to flush repeatedly.
With a Bic biro.
Because my perfect Mistah is not only resourceful but also very attentive.
What he doesn't know however is that one afternoon not so long ago, it was me, a bucket, plastic bags, half a bottle of bleach and a pair of chopsticks against the Mercan crapper after a perfect supersize interrogation mark made the facilities grind to a halt.
Through sheer pig-headedness and ingenuity, I won. Being quite the house fairy, I also erased all evidence and the man of the house was none the wiser.
"You wouldn't believe some of the things I do around here", I told him with a knowing smile while rubbing lotion on my hands that night, hoping he wouldn't notice the strong smell of bleach.
Because XS household gloves are not the norm, I had fashioned hand wraps out of small garbage bags.
Small flimsy garbage bags that ripped.
My name is Hannah and I am a wannabe bathroom ninja.