“Strategic patience” according to Robert Genn, an artist who writes a popular newsletter I read, is in vogue these days. Strategic patience is the process of believing, given sufficient time, that most things will take care of themselves. I plead guilty to that one big time. It is synonymous with my old friend sloth.
For several months various workers of the male persuasion have been in and out of my kitchen. A refinishing job that was supposed to take two weeks has dragged on over four months. Thoughtfully when nature called the workers have availed themselves of the half bath in the laundry room, rather than either of the two main ones adjoining my bedrooms.
It never occurs to me to even enter that tiny room unless I am out of toilet paper, which I keep on the rack above the w.c. So occasionally when I detour there to restock my supplies I have noticed the toilet running. If the door is closed, as it always is, I don’t hear the gurgling. When water flow is discovered I frown and jiggle the handle, and it stops. No big deal. This may have happened four or five times in the last three months. Surely no woman would walk off and leave a toilet running, would she?
I shrugged it off as inadequate male toilet training. The thought did occur to me that the next time I had to hire a plumber for a REAL problem I would have the plumber check the toilet. Here’s where strategic patience comes in.
One day last week I found a notice from the water company taped conspicuously to my mail-box. It was ominous and jarring to my psyche.
“Occupant: Your water meter was read today and registered in excess of your average usage. It is suggested you check…..etc. etc.”
As luck would have it my niece and her hubby were visiting from Washington. At my request they scoured the outside property looking for leaks, and found none.
So, I put off calling the water company until I had time. Then yesterday’s mail brought a water bill of over $300. Yikes.
This is winter. I must have a river running somewhere. I speculated and obsessed. Patience exhausted, I called this morning. I was advised to do the following: “Make a pot of coffee. Pour one cup in the tank of each toilet. Wait twenty minutes.” If the water in the bowl is colored, I was advised, you have a leak. Then you call a plumber.
The surly clerk did not seem to care that my toilets are fifties vintage and come already colored pink and yellow. Nor did she suggest if the coffee be regular, decaf, expresso. Pete’s or Starbucks. The whole concept may turn me off coffee for life. A friend at art class today (the irony being I was in charge of making coffee) advised me she had a similar problem. She had an undiscovered outdoor leak that was only disclosed by a huge bill. When the plumber repaired it she was able to submit the plumber’s bill and get a reduction on her water bill, though it hardly made up the difference.
Now my horoscope sign is cancer, and that makes me a water baby. For years I was a Water Safety Instructor. Canoeing is one of my passions. I can manipulate class 3 rapids, but do you think I can diagnose a petulant water closet? Squirming around in toilet tanks is surely not my idea of aquatics.
My friend Dottie in Nevada informs me that in an old house even an earthquake can set a toilet to squirming. Help! I want a new house. One with a plumber living next door that will trade me toilet inspection for persimmon cookies.