The Story of The Toilet Whisperer

China has really bad plumbing.  Even the Chinese will tell you.  It’s why the bathrooms stink – bad pipes. I am going to warn you now, that the rest of this blog is probably not suitable for work or small children. Not kidding.

Lately, I have been working out.  I am really focused on a summer at the beach and let’s be honest, the real Turkish Delight in August.  Additionally, I have been eating healthy with lots of oatmeal, fruit, and some veggies (a work in progress).

In China, many Westerners have Ayes which is essentially a maid in any other language.  Interestingly enough, I have heard that Ayes get paid better than Chinese school teachers.  I digress.  My Aye is Zhou and she has been a real blessing for me on many levels, but none more than this week.

Like I said, I have been working out, eating better, drinking less mochas… you get the idea.  As a result, let’s just say I need to use the facilities more often and for longer periods of time… I don’t know how to say that any more delicately.  Many times during these moments when I am catching up on some light reading, I don’t flush immediately afterwards because I need to let things sit for a while, soften if you will, so the pipes don’t get backed up.  This system has been working for me until this passed weekend.

I don’t want to go into too much detail, but my routine failed me this week.  Clog Central.  Here’s the thing.  I don’t speak enough Chinese to call a plumber, my landlord wasn’t answering her phone, and it was time to catch up on my reading.   Yikes.

What to do… I was really stuck but it wouldn’t wait.  My reading was pretty urgent. I had just returned from walking the Nan Shan stairs and things were happening.  After a short time and some pride swallowing, I decided to read somewhere else… the trash can. I was pretty desperate. Let me tell you, not only is it humbling to be a grown woman reading on the trash can, it’s really uncomfortable and difficult to get the leverage that is sometimes needed when one is reading.  It’s just not relaxing.  In addition, when I was done with my reading, I had to take the uh, article, to the trash.  Not a pleasant elevator ride. 

Well needless to say, I plunged until I simply could not plunge anymore that morning, but I simply could not clear those pipes.  However, more urgent reading was necessary and I made the bold decision to use the clogged facilities and pay whatever it cost to get it sorted later. It was a loooong, self-esteem killing Sunday.

The next morning, I left a very embarrassing note for Zhou about my um, articles. I told her to leave the bathroom alone and I was calling in an expert.  I returned home that day with a heavy heart, having done my reading at school… only to find that by some miracle, Zhou sorted out the pipes!!!

Oh happy day. She is my hero.  She is the Toilet Whisperer.

 And that my friends, is a real China story.


  1. Yikes! That is a harrowing tale indeed, Claire. Wow. I think I’d have to pretend it was all a very, very, very bad dream in order to move on and function properly. And I’d have give the lovely toilet whisperer a really big tip :). Love ya!

  2. Christy Herrmann

    Only you, Claire, could discuss such a delicate issue with clarity and accuracy without requiring me to cover the screen while reading. You’ve made me smile again, and also glad I’m enjoying USA plumbing.

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