How to unblock a Lebanese toilet: Survival tips

Pretext- Why might your toilet be blocked?

The toilets and related plumbing in Lebanon are notoriously fragile. Even the most modern establishments request that you ‘kindly’ put all tissue paper in a small bin next to the toilet. Given this fact, it would be little surprise that your toilet might choke up if you accidentally flushed a stripy H&M sock down the pan. The task of retrieving the sock may become infinitely more disgusting if you have just tried to flush pieces of lettuce rejected by your pet tortoise, now floating around the bowl like ships lost at sea. So what can you do?

Step 1: Flush again

You may as well give this a go. Anything to avoid having to put your hand in there. Maybe you were worrying about nothing. Or maybe the toilet will groan like a dyeing elephant and fill up to the brink with more filthy water. It’s time to change out of your work clothes.

Step 2: Get the rubber gloves on

Since you cannot find any clothes you are prepared to splash toilet juice on you are now probably in your underwear. Pull on the rubber gloves (I would suggest pink but yellow will suffice) and say a little prayer to Mazu, Chinese Goddess of water and protector of sailors. You are going to need the help.

Step 3: Dive in.

As your gloved hand slides further and further into the bowl your level of revulsion and disgust will rise exponentially. Do not worry about this, it is about to get worse. A lot worse. As you finally touch the bottom of bowl you will realize that the sock has been sucked right up into the U-bend. Creeping further into the unknown you will understandably be afraid that some toilet beast is lurking, waiting to nibble your fingers off. You lean in too far and the glove fills up with water.

Step 4: Retreat

Pulling off the glove and rushing to the sink to wash your hand, you will feel the urge to sit and cry on the bathroom floor for a while. You may as well. You deserve a break.

Step 5: Bring in the artillery

The difference between men and monkeys comes down to our use of tools. It’s true that monkeys don’t wear H&M socks and so would never be in this mess in the first place, but that’s not the point. It’s time to improvise. In your closet there are probably some wire coat hangers. Get one out and unravel it. Poking around the toilet for a while will give you an idea of the complex shape of the piping system. Sculpt the hanger into a shape that takes into account the various twists and turns. Catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, in your underwear twisting a piece of wire with tears drying on your face. Cry a bit more.

Step 6: Mission Impossible

Pushing the wire round invisible bends in the pipe is like performing keyhole surgery, except far more difficult. You hit a wall, twist your arm and push on. The wire keeps going, further and further into the abyss. You reach too far and the glove fills with water again. Except this time you don’t even care. You will defeat the toilet even if it kills you. Just when you feel like you might have to actually climb into the bowl, Trainspotting style, the hook on the end of the wire catches something. A bite of the end of the line? You pull back with all your strength but it is struggling. Just, a bit, more…

Step 7: Self destruct

Whatever was on the end of your coat hanger managed to get away. You have been defeated. There is nothing else left to do. You will flush the toilet for a final time and the subsequent flood will wash you away. Goodbye stool world!

But the toilet is spluttering, shuddering, shaking. It nearly rocks itself off your bathroom floor, but instead the flush roars and washes everything from the pan. You must have dislodged the sock with your efforts. It is now in a better place. You have won. And that deserves a drink.

Bottoms up!

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