Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Case of the Missing Toilet

How do toilets get lost in the mail?

I have been asking myself that all morning.  I mean, they’re toilets.  They’re big.  And toilet-y.  Who is going to steal a marine toilet?  It isn’t as though you could take it home and hook it up.  It runs on 32 volts and seawater, for crying out loud.  They are utterly useless to anyone but us and a few shrimp boats.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

These are our toilets:
"Do Not Use"...

...because life would be too easy with functioning toilets and two kids.

Don’t let the pretty wooden box fool you.  Underneath is a tangle of joker valves, impellers and leaky pump parts that makes me want to kill somebody.  Poor Erik has spent many, many hours disassembling and reassembling this piece of equipment for good reasons (Hey!  Another impeller lost its blades!) and bad (Hey!  The girls flushed another beaded bracelet!).  Marine toilets – at least, the ones we have – are utterly unforgiving.  They are filled with fiddly pieces, places for things to get caught, and small bits that like to break off at odd moments.  I covet the simple hand-pump toilets my friends enjoy.  But when you buy a boat, you get what comes with it, and our thirty-year-old electric toilets are our cross to bear.

Long ago, back in Cartagena, Erik spent a delightful 13 hours disassembling the main head back to the motor.  In the interests of keeping his skull from exploding, we decided to invest in new parts.  So a new lower unit for the really bad one and a two spare rebuild kits were the order of the day.  “Send them to Panama!” everyone said.  “It is easy to send things there.  And you are a Yacht in Transit, so you don’t have to fuss with customs.  Easy!”

If there is one thing I’ve learned, it is that “easy” is the antithesis of “boat”.

We ordered our parts from the very helpful manufacturer in New Jersey.  They promised three to five days.  I quietly laughed into my sleeve.  But once ten days had passed, I thought I’d better start investigating.  The tracking number showed the box leaving the United States and then... nothing.  This is nothing new to me.  Packages often disappear online until delivery.

This morning, I took another look.  Hmm.  A new and unhelpful message, dated three days ago, awaited me: Addressee requests own pick-up - Item being held, addressee being notified”. Well.  As I had given a clear delivery address and hadn’t been notified of anything, the first tendrils of concern coiled around my shoulders.  Where was my toilet?

I called my contact at the manufacturer, hoping for a little help, but he unfortunately wasn’t around.  Crumbs.  Next, it was back to the marina office, where the gentlemen at the desk are too polite to show their annoyance with my daily requests for toilet-containing packages.

Here’s your stupid spy camera!
Delighted with a chance to solve my toilet problems and get me out of their office, the men snatched the tracking form from my hands and started making calls.  It is interesting to watch someone else call Customer Service.  It makes me feel better that we all are subjected to hold, call-a-different-number and general telephone ping pong.  I feel less singled out.  The upshot of their calls was that everyone was at lunch.  At 11:15am.  But I should come back around one o’clock.  Maybe someone would be back.

At one o’clock precisely, I walked through the door, and was greeted with the news that my package was, indeed, at the post office.  Hooray!

“So, where is the post office?” I asked brightly.
Two heads shook at me.  “No.  You do not go to the post office.”  A muttered conversation, and out came the phone again.  “The bus driver will try to get your package.”
“The bus driver.”

And now I wait, wondering why my toilet is being held hostage at the post office, wondering whether the bus driver will have any luck.  Is the post office here concerned with trifles like ID?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  If the bus driver strikes out, will I be allowed to go to the post office myself?  Again, maybe, maybe not.  But I tell you, friends, that I will get those toilet parts, even if I have to break out my black pajamas to do it.

The Papillon crew is going to go all ninja on your toilet-withholding selves!


Anonymous said...

The plot thickens. It gets curiouser & curiouser. One thing is ceratin you do need new toilets. What awaits at the Post Office? I dread to think.
Keep us posted.
Love Mom

Kate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kate said...

Awesome. LOL. Glad to hear the toliets are nearby... But it makes me wonder where you are going to the toliet for now? But perhaps thats a story best left unsaid