Odor de Toilet

Betty, my next door neighbor at the time, didn't bother with any pleasantries. “We have water!”

“About bloody time. Thanks for letting me know. I'll go flush the toilets. It was getting a bit ripe.”

She laughed. “I know what you mean.”

As soon as I got off the phone, I went to flush the toilet upstairs then the one in the basement.

The toilets hadn't been flushed in almost two days. I tried to keep the smell contained by keeping all the doors in the house closed most of the time, only opening them when necessary. I stayed out of the basement as much as I could. When there was no choice, before I opened the door to the basement, I switched my smell off, making sure to not breathe through my nose. But I couldn't ignore the smell from the upstairs bathroom—I kept accidentally catching whiffs of it. The smell permeated the bedrooms upstairs, even through the closed doors.

I'd woken up in the middle of the night, needing to go to the bathroom. When I went to wash my hands after flushing the toilet, I discovered that we had no water. I went back to sleep and when I got up in the morning, there was still no water.

I phoned the Pittsburgh Water Authority. Apparently, work was being done on the pipes at the mall down the road and they'd shut off the water. I was told the work would be completed by early afternoon. When I got back home in the afternoon, I learned that they'd be finished later that evening. We finally got our water back midday the next day.

When I came up from flushing the toilet in the basement, I texted Betty. “The sound of a toilet flushing—music to my ears.”

Betty texted back, “If that’s music to your ears, no wonder you’re a mathematician.”