How to Unclog a Toilet

I love a good parable. 

I've been helping my mother because she broke her shoulder, and while here, a toilet that has a history of getting clogged, due to tree roots, decided to back up. I found a plunger and went to town on it, but it wasn't clearing out. It was a slow, slow drain. So I kept trying every hour or so. We called the plumber and left a message. We didn't hear back.

Mom wondered how my brother was able to call, and get the plumber here immediately, when we couldn't even get a return call. 


This is kind of where the parable begins. 

It can be really hard to clear out a toilet clog if you don't know how to do it. I thought I knew how, but I decided to research “how to plunge a toilet” anyway. Guess what? There's more to it than just sticking a plunger in the bowl and pumping it a few times. 


I think plunging is just something we think we generally know how to do, and when it doesn't work, we give up and call an expensive plumber who may or may not call back, and then may or may not decide it's worth the time to come plunge the right way.

Isn't life like that? We never take the time to learn more about something we're so certain we know how to do. For whatever reason, many people avoid mentors or free seminars or classes that advance current skills. Maybe it's fear. Maybe it's some idea that whatever it takes requires more smarts than we think we have. But let me tell you, we have to try. We have to learn. We have to give into what is there and available. Otherwise, we're at the mercy of a fickle plumber. 

That plumber calls my brother right back because he is either 1) a friend of the plumber's, or 2) a man. It's a relationship thing rooted in affinity bias. It sucks. But you know what? I have no shame when it comes to a $350 bill for some guy to come to my mom's house to maybe or maybe not plunge. 

I did my research and discovered that, in fact, there are a few tricks to plunging the loo. 
1. Use a plunger with a flange. Flat bottom plungers are for sinks, tubs and showers. Flange plungers are designed to fit down the hole of a toilet to create a better seal for suction.
2. Let water fill the bottom of the plunger before pushing it into the hole.
3. Start pumping slowly to allow the air to be replaced with water.
4. Once the plunger is full, the sound and the water action will change, and you can start pumping faster to cause a forceful exchange of water that pushes the clog on down. 

It works. It may take a couple of tries, but now I don't care if some fickle plumber ever calls back to service this toilet or not. 

Using what's offered to grow, and becoming as self-proficient as you can, may be what moves your life and/or career beyond the hubris that builds up around poor leadership. Don't expect people to change on your behalf. Only you can change. 

Here's what I know for sure. You will never forget how to plunge the toilet. When you make steps towards personal growth, just think of those human roadblocks as a clog waiting to be flushed.

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