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How do You Use a Toilet Brush?

October 1, 2009

I was asked this in earnest and I will describe to you the circumstances.

Photo by satguru

Photo by satguru

As you know, I rent rooms.

Toilets in Buenos Aires, though often accompanied by a bidet (not in the case of my apartment) can be on the weird side. I lived in a place where there was a little shelf built inside. You pooped onto the shelf and when you flushed, the waste was whisked down the hole in front.

There is an element of quality control that’s missing in certain models, like mine. Each time anyone drops a load, something about the shape of the toilet causes a smear of shit to be left behind, stuck to the bowl, one that a second flush is woefully inadequate to remove.

Photo of Shelf Toilet Courtesy of kalleboo

Photo of Shelf Toilet Courtesy of kalleboo

I suppose not everyone has the same strong aversion to fecal matter that I have. Some people accept it as a fact of life, and let the shits fall where they may, smears and all.

The Story

I had two short-term tenants move in around the same time, both straight guys. During the course of a single day, I found myself confronted by shit-smear-toilet on no less than three occasions when all I wanted was to take a piss. In each instance, I used the conveniently placed toilet brush to clean it up, but when I awoke the next day to find another long smear of shit to greet me for my morning pee, I just had to do something.

I wrote a note. It was fit for I admit it. It listed a short litany of things I found tolerable, such as having to buy all the toilet paper or sweep up in the kitchen, but laid out that in point of fact I would not be cleaning any shit smears that were not a direct byproduct of the fruit of my own intestines and suggesting the offender(s) please use the brush provided to clean up their own shit.

One of the guys stopped me later that day. He told me that he had had a roommate in the past who left notes and it had been a real problem for him and told me that he was the leaver of shit smears and that if I had a problem with anything in the future that I please take it to him in person.

No Place Like Home.  Photo: boni_face

No Place Like Home. Photo: boni_face

I ask you: What kind of exercise in humiliation would it be to knock on each individual roommate’s door and ask, “Excuse me, but did you happen to just take a shit?” I told him that I would as often as I were able.

I found this whole process disheartening and distasteful. From cleaning up his shit, to talking to him about cleaning up his shit, and finding out that it was indeed his shit that I’d been cleaning up, I was very uncomfortable.

Now fast forward about a month into the future.

At certain times I had noticed that the cup the toilet brush was kept in had brownish water about a cm deep inside it. I had noticed that the white bristles weren’t exactly white. But on one particular day as I, in flip flops with bare legs, went to pull the brush out of its cup (and yes, at this point I should have known better to yank it out so cavalierly), my legs and feet and the floor and toilet were all sprayed with a mist of shitty water. Talk about eau de toilette.

There were chunks of toilet paper in the brush along with well ground in shit, like someone had tried to clean a melted chocolate Easter bunny from the dashboard with the brush and then just left it there.

I was furious. I had to take a minute to breathe. I couldn’t help but to see this as a deliberate fuck you. A literal, “I shit on your stupid toilet and your stupid toilet brush.”

Doh!  Photo by dmuth

D'oh! Photo by dmuth

There was nothing to be done about it. I said I wouldn’t leave a note, and this time I was aware of which individual in the house was less inclined to be disgusted by an item caked with his own fecal matter. Now I knew I must simply organize my thoughts, try to approach him with humor and ask: Do you know how to use a toilet brush?

The following is an approximation of the ensuing dialogue.

Me: Hey. I was just sprayed with shit water from the cup the toilet brush is kept in. Do you know how to use a toilet brush? (So you know, I was smiling and trying to make a joke out of this. I’m not sure how to do this properly. I guess I’ll have to ask Miss Manners.)

Him: Oh, really? How do you use a toilet brush? (Also amused, apparently and completely unashamed)

Me: Well, yeah, You have to flush the toilet first.

Him: Oh. I was just flushing the toilet once.

Me: Well that’s how the brush becomes caked with shit. So if you flush it first and then brush it, it works better. Then after that, if the brush is dirty, you can flush it again and kind of rinse it out. You know?

Him: Oh. OK. I guess that makes sense.

That, my friends, is the kind of thing you should expect when you are living with strangers.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. October 1, 2009 12:35 pm

    I feel your pain.

    We owned a duplex in Butchertown for several years, living downstairs and renting out the second floor. All in all, it was a great deal…and we mostly had at least OK tenants.

    The place was once for rent, and I was showing it to a prospect. Consistent with my practice, I did a quick walk through, offered to answer questions and then gave the person some space.

    Before I knew it, my prospect emerged, whistling a happy little tune and saying, “I’ll let you know” as they zipped past me on the back porch.

    I should have noticed that they were a few pounds lighter. Because when I went into the apartment to turn off the lights, I could hear the toilet running,

    They weren’t in the apartment (let along the crapper) for more than 90 seconds. So imagine my amazement and chagrin when I discovered a large, unflushed load of my prospect’s shit still settling into the bowl.

    Is there an ordinance or something about seeing an apartment under false pretenses?

    Anyway, glad I could help. Who knows. Maybe someday, I’ll need to shit so bad that I’ll stalk apartments for rent.

    • October 1, 2009 2:08 pm

      Wow! That’s quite a story, Doug! And why an unflushed load? Sounds like he was getting his jolleys (this had to have been a he right?).

      Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing!

  2. Claudia permalink
    October 1, 2009 1:27 pm

    oh Kate, I miss you, but I do NOT miss ###… waking up without hearing him banging his bed against the wall (with two walls between us) is very pleasant, I have to admit πŸ™‚
    I hope you told Annika about this blog, she would love it… well, not the thing it is written about but the way you write about it.
    greetings from germany!

    • October 1, 2009 2:06 pm

      Good to hear from you Claudia. I have to keep names out of it, but I appreciate your comment. Are you sure it was his own head he was banging against a wall though?

      Besito! Miss you too.


  3. October 1, 2009 2:46 pm

    Almost sounds like it would be easier to take it up with Argentine toilet manufacturers. πŸ™‚ I’ve got your back if you do.

    • October 1, 2009 3:44 pm

      I dunno if I’m up for that battle, Hal. Maybe we can come up with something more worth fighting for.

      Can you picture us with picket signs in Spanish – a couple of yanqui scum protesting the state of the Argentine toilet?

      • October 1, 2009 4:25 pm

        Damn. Maybe a lost cause, but that sounds like one hell of a story!

  4. Steve permalink
    October 1, 2009 6:59 pm

    Wow. Isn’t this quite unprofessional that you gripe about your tenants online? I’ve rented quite a few times and I would always hope that any landlord would have the discretion not to write unecessarily vitriolic posts to their internet friends. Good luck, I’d be surprised if you managed to keep many more tenants. I wouldn’t stay there.

    • October 1, 2009 7:07 pm

      No one asked you to, Steve. Far from being a pro at this, when the lease is over it’s over and I will be very glad.

      Oh, that I could be as mature as you and only judge and comment about people over the internet!

      Thanks for the first post for my ‘about this bitch’ page.

      • October 2, 2009 4:35 pm

        I also wanted to ask – what’s unnecessary vitriol? And ‘Steve’? If you want to pretend to be someone who doesn’t know me, you shouldn’t put information in your comments that gives you away. Beso!

  5. October 2, 2009 3:39 pm

    Ugh, tenants. I know I couldn’t handle that shit (har har).

    Anywho, dig the blog and the best idea ever–About this Bitch page. Sweet.

    • October 2, 2009 4:32 pm

      Thanks, Christine! Ha. I think I use up all my patience on my students. It’s a good thing I kind of like being mad or I’d be fucking miserable!

  6. 9mos permalink
    October 2, 2009 10:06 pm

    Ok, what does it say about me that I was reading this while breastfeeding my kid and laughing out loud? Probably nothing good.
    And the shelf on the toilet? I don’t get it, but I’m thinking I probably shouldn’t move to Buenos Aires.
    Then again, don’t get me started about Cuban toilets….

  7. October 2, 2009 11:04 pm

    Ha! Now I’m curious. I meant to send you this: Looks like you guys delivered about the same time. And I know you know this, but I think it says only good things when you laugh at poo while breast-feeding because (you know) there’s a mountain of it in your immediate future!

  8. October 3, 2009 3:13 am

    The Germans use toilets like that too! I think it conserves water (the Germans are a very efficient people). But it’s pretty gross when you have to drop a big load, it stinks up the place real good.

    Possibly the funniest post about shit I’ve read. Not that I’ve read much about shit. Actually, this might be the first post I’ve read about shit.

  9. October 3, 2009 10:05 am

    Que bueno tu blog amiga! LOL. I look forward to reading more. Not sure where you find these people… or do they find you??

  10. October 3, 2009 12:38 pm

    I always felt that the sorts of toilets which you mention were built precisely for the purpose of inspecting your efforts. In the same way that soothsayers might examine tea leaves or the entrails of an animal, the health-obsessed can have a good old pore over their bowel movements to check for any sign of impending trouble.

    At the risk of sounding xenophobic, I always figured they were more common in, erm, slightly hypochrondiachal societies. I don’t know about Argentina, but I can imagine an over-mothered child in Spain* having the possible evils of an uninspected stool hammered home on a regular basis. (*In the same way that a neck uncovered by a scarf can apparently lead to maladies untold…)

    Could be wrong, though, of course…

    Oh, nice post by the way!

    • October 7, 2009 9:49 am

      Funny! I think it’s about saving water more than it is the inspection. Same amount of porcelain while you save a gallon a day!

  11. October 6, 2009 12:02 pm

    Flipping awesome blog – should try the note with current house mate who doesn’t know how to flush, might add the “how to use a toilet brush” in as an appendix…
    And those shelf toilets, if you aren’t careful when you wipe you get it on the back of your hand!!!

    • October 7, 2009 4:05 pm

      Thanks, Candice! By the way, you can say ‘fuck’ here, if you’re so inclined. I don’t really want to contemplate the other point you made! Ew!

  12. October 13, 2009 11:35 pm

    this shit was hilarious. and kind of foul too. but in a good way. i don’t know why the argentinean toilets are that way. the turd has to do this total ‘reverse roll’ maneuver to get down to the water and out.

    it does seem to cut down, however, on ‘splash-back’

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