Flushing Quality

We have met the enemy...and it is plastic.
We have met the enemy...and it is plastic.

You ever get one of those headaches that rumbles through your head like an angry bear waking up from hibernation? They start out kind of weak and slowly roar to life, impervious to pain medicine? I ended up with one of those last night, and all I wanted to do was go to bed and try to out-sleep it.

Instead, I ended up hunched over a toilet tank for almost a half hour, trying to figure out what was going on with the fill valve. Seems it’s taking the proverbial shit. I wouldn’t be quite as irritated by this as I am if it wasn’t for the fact that this fill valve is only 3 years old. I know, because I’m the one who installed it, along with a flush valve replacement that turned into quite the repair nightmare and landed me in a plumbing supply company, queuing up with big, burly plumber dudes who seemed very amused by my presence in their plumber man cave.

So why am I now faced with replacing the fill valve again? Like I said, it’s only 3 years old. The box it came in said that it was guaranteed for 2 million flushes. I know I’m not the greatest at math, but I’m pretty certain that this toilet has not been flushed more than 2 million times in 3 years. It’s not like the downstairs is doubling as a restroom annex to Union Station or anything. It could be that this fill valve was defective. Or it could be that it’s just another example of the inferior quality that seems so pervasive in merchandise anymore.

This is a constant grumble of mine. I can’t help but notice that so many things sold in this country are noticeably inferior to the same product sold “back in the good old days.” Perfect example: I recently bought a drying rack from Target, to complement my current drying rack. The new one was the same brand and size and bought from the same store as my current one. Only the frame felt flimsy and light in comparison with the older version. I imagine this was due to an order from some penny-pinching schmuck who had convinced someone in production that if they reduce the material by just the tiniest percentage, they could save $3 million a year! Which means $3 million more in their pockets!

So the materials are reduced, the new product is now disconcertingly wobbly, and 2 weeks later one of the joints snaps in half under the weight of wet clothes. But the company saved $3 million.

I’m probably being too jaded about this. However, I don’t see anything wrong with expecting a product that I have purchased to be reliable. That drying rack was not only a waste of my money, but also of my time. Time spent going to Target to buy it, to bring it home and put it together, to end up having to pick up all the clothes that it dumped onto the floor when it broke, to take it back, and then to go to another store and buy a different rack that will hopefully last a wee bit longer.

Same thing with this fecking fill valve. Now my evening is shot, pre-mapped by a necessary trip to the local DIY store, then back home to remove the broken valve and install the new one.

I have an Xbox, people! An Xbox that is going to feel ignored and unloved because, instead of rocking out with Aerosmith on Guitar Hero or swinging Lara Croft across a chasm, I’m going to be mucking around in a toilet tank. I guess this would be the un-fun side of being an adult, huh?

Oh, and I still have that effing headache. I bet some vodka would clear that right up…