China 2004: China Needs A Plunger

LATE EDIT: Other than this story, I didn't do a write up for 2004. However, there's a ton of text in the description field of many of the photos. For the 2005 and 2004 trips, this was my process instead of writing the daily journal entires that I do now (which are much simpler, easier to maintain, and much more likely to be read).

2004 Beijing Gallery

This is one of the odd stories from China that I can actually put into writing. Something DMS will probably enjoy. I'm going to make it long and tedious though, so grab a smoke first.

One day in Shanghai, the toilet in Rick and I's room stopped up. I think it was one of those cases where Rick did the stopping, didn't say nothing, and then left it for me to discover. But whatever...

When I first got 'stuck' with the problem, I think it was morning. Rick had done his business and quickly left for downstairs, of course. Happening upon this disaster, I called the desk and asked them to fix it. Then I hurried off to meet folks downstairs.

We returned later in the afternoon, and the problem still had not been addressed. Another request was made, and again we left the room, to meet folks downstairs. This particular trip downstairs resulted in the largest 'cluster fuck' of the tour, which I won't get into, except to say that we ended up downstairs for a few hours and ate dinner at the hotel (which wasn't bad, but not the point). Morale was not at its highest.

Finally, Rick and I's company for the evening showed up, consisting of tour guide Alex, local tour guide Green, and Alex's friend. Alex's friend had apparently planned our entertainment for the evening. Did he ever! An interesting evening that merits a whole 'nother story... that will never be put into print except to say that it was an interesting cultural lesson.

We returned to the hotel room sometime between 2:30 and 3:00am to find that the toilet STILL had not been unplugged. Naturally, after a night of drinking, eating, and carousing, use of the facilities was a priority. In fact, now that I mention it... I'll be right back...


We called the front desk again... and they said they'd send someone up.

Finally, a fellow shows up. I never actually saw this guy, but only listened to him. Rick had all the face time. He sounded real happy to be networking with the Americans at three in the morning... NOT.

Rick tells him the toilet is stopped up, asks him to fix it and walks away. I was laying on my bed listening, hoping to use the toilet soon.

The fellow walks into the bathroom, jiggles the handle (at least that sounds like all he did), walks back out of the bathroom and says "fixed". I get this 'bullshit' frown on my face, and you can already sense the frustration in Rick. He gets up, walks over and tells the guy something to the effect of "It's not fixed. It's still plugged. LOOK!", whereupon Rick opens the toilet lid, which I don't think this guy ever bothered to do.

After getting the full frontal of mellowed out urine and whatever was left of breakfast the previous day, I don't recall hearing any actual words. I think it was one of those typical Chinese responses of a grunt and nod.

Rick walks out of the bathroom and as he's passing my bed, I say very quietly so as not to be overheard, "You know what's going to happen don't you?"

Rick: "No, what?"

John: "He's going to stick his fucking hand down there and unplug it."

Rick: *snicker* "No way"

Seconds later from the bathroom:
*toilet bowl draining*
*faucet is turned on*
*hands being dried*

Rick and John: *muted but steady laughter caused by a combination of revulsion and, of course, admiration for the Chinese people"

The guy walks out of the bathroom and looks at Rick... says "fixed"... and walks out.

Rick: "China needs a plunger"