Beginning Wednesday, March 26th, like so many other Americans, I was relegated to WFH (Work From Home) referring to employees doing their jobs from home in a self-quarantined attempt to not catch or spread the COVID-19 virus. On occasion, I would be driving the 30 miles to work when it was necessary for me to access certain files in order to create reports that were not possible to create at home. I knew it was bound to happen sooner or later. The virus was now officially in my county with multiple confirmed positive tests.
Tuesday, my last office day, I entered the building and was immediately handed an envelope with my initials “LHO” penciled in on the top right corner and the words "Essential Service Correspondence" typed in 48-point font...easy to read for anyone wearing hazmat gear, I guess. It contained a one-page letter explaining our business—environmental engineering—and how our scope of work is essential to the nation. If it ever became necessary to mandate martial law with checkpoints for people out and about, this letter would verify that I am commuting to a job vital to the country. The new addition to my business cards, in bright red letters enclosed in parentheses, read: (Essential Service Provider). I was instructed to keep this envelope along with the new business cards in my car glove compartment.
After putting my contact lenses in…I can only tolerate the mono-vision effect for short bursts of time without getting the feeling that my eyes are filled with sand and either over or under focusing…I sat down and completed everything stacked on my desk in about four hours. Before saying goodbye to stay home for an indefinite period, I grabbed a canister of Lysol wipes and proceeded to clean every surface in our building touched by human hands—light switches, doorknobs, refrigerator handles, the microwave handle and control pad, coffee maker buttons, computer keyboards and mouses (…or is it mice?), wall thermostats for temperature control, the security-code key-pad, copier/printer key-pads, the faucet handles and finally, toilet flushing levers. I wanted a clean, germ-free slate once everything got back to normal and our staff returned.
On day one of WFH and having completed the limited scope of work I could do without access to the files kept at the office, I decided to make the most of my downtime and do those handyman (handy-woman in my case) projects that I had been putting off. My dad usually broke as well as a cheapskate, dubbed me his apprentice early on in life. He was a mechanical engineer and though he over-thought some things to the point of paralysis (over-analysis-paralysis) he was very skilled in doing most things that related to keeping a household up and running without paying a professional to come in. He had a small set of Sears Craftsman tools that I would pass to him as we did various projects, reminiscent of a surgical nurse passing scalpels and various instruments to a surgeon.
After he passed away in October of 2018, I kept what was left of those tools to remind me of those times we had shared.
I ran out to the garage to grab his set of socket wrenches, excited to use them for the first time since inheriting them. They were still in the original burnt-orange hinged box—now slightly dented and speckled with little rusted areas. Stuck to the lid was a peeling, discolored piece of masking tape that read “Top/Up” in his handwriting. Woe be it to you if you opened his set upside-down, spilling sockets, extenders, and the like all over the ground. I saw him do it once while we were working on a project and it was the only time I heard him curse. Unsnapping the two closures, making sure the “Top/Up” was on top, I was not at all surprised to see that each socket was in the groove marked with its respective size and polished to a bright fingerprint-less sheen. He was nothing if not organized.
I walked over to retrieve an adjustable wrench from my stash of tools housed in a bright red wheeled storage cabinet. “You can’t be over-prepared,” my dad’s words echoed in my head. He was usually right, even though I never liked to admit it.
Due to the current situation in my city as well as the entire world, I decided, as my first project, to install the handheld bidet that I had ordered a week earlier on Amazon Prime. When I noticed the empty shelves typically loaded with toilet paper and paper towels, I decided it was time for a "Plan B." Citizens of other countries have been using bidets since the dawn of indoor plumbing and we have all heard how antiquated and weird they think Americans are for not using them. Being unfamiliar with the bidet in general, I watched a "How To" installation tutorial on YouTube…twice…before scrunching down between a wall and the toilet, in an area even a toddler would have trouble fitting into. My guest bathroom setup consisted of an alcove with a wall 12 inches from either side of the toilet. I folded myself into a pretzel-like position with the bidet kit and my plethora of tools and did my best to copy the guy in the video even though he had all the room in the world...not a wall in sight… around the example toilet.
First, I removed the tank lid, then turned the shutoff valve, located on the wall near the base of the toilet tank, one half of a rotation to cut the water off.
Next, I flushed the toilet, holding the handle down, until the tank was empty and put a plastic tub…a recycled deli meat storage container… down to catch any dripping water. I unscrewed the water line located on the flush valve at the bottom corner of the tank, then carefully wrapped the threads with the plumber’s tape that came with the kit.
Then, I replaced it with the two-way water splitter, also in the kit, and attached the handheld sprayer to the flush valve on the front. I then hooked the stainless bracket used to hold the sprayer when it was not in use, under the tank lid, and hung the handle of the sprayer in it for safekeeping. So far so good.
The hose I had originally detached from the flush valve, which provided water to fill the tank after each flush, was then reattached to the backside of the two-way splitter. All said and done, it took about 15 minutes.
I turned the water back on to check for leaks. Finding none, voila, we were back in business...prepared if the world ran out of toilet paper. If that time should come, I will have to watch a "How To" video on using that handheld sprayer without soaking the entire bathroom in the process.
Americans and bidets. We are so out of touch. Updates to soon follow!
By Lisa H. Owens
Inspired by true events .
Published on Beneath the Surface News.