My Greatest Shame Part 2: The Plunger

My Greatest Shame Part 2: The Plunger

(You can read about my first Greatest Shame here.)

It’s happened to the best of us. You use the bathroom, flush the toilet, and suddenly the water starts to go up instead of down. You flush again, desperately hoping that the extra effort will reverse the tides. But no, the water keeps rising, and the best you can do is hope that the surface tension holds. Nobody wants poop water on their bathroom floor.

This happened to me last Wednesday. I really didn’t see it coming, for two major reasons:

1. My toilet has a powerful flusher. In the two and a half years I’ve lived here, my toilet has never gotten clogged.
2. I’m extra conscientious about courtesy-flushing to prevent backups.

Yet it happened anyway. And of course, I don’t own a plunger.

There are many embarrassing things to buy in a grocery store, most of them in the rash/hemorrhoid/toe fungus-treatment category. But I contend that none is more visible than a plunger. You can’t hide a plunger behind the V8 bottle in your car. It protrudes out of your cart, labeling you to the world as “the guy who has poops of unusual size” (P.O.U.S., for you Princess Bride fans).

The only thing more shameful than marching through the grocery store with a plunger in hand is coming home, not completing the suction on the first plunge into the tepid waters, and spraying poop water onto my arm. Awesome.

A Brilliant Idea That’s Not Mine

If you go online to buy concert tickets, before you can check for seat availability, most major websites will make you type in a garbled, meaningless word. Even though it looks like a word to our human eyes, to a computer it’s just a picture. This prevents people from making bots that buy out every good seat and then reselling them at a premium.

However, some smart fellow found a loophole. He wanted to make a bot to purchase massive quantities of Hannah Montana concert tickets, which apparently cost about $50 and can be resold for as much as $2000 to whiny rich kids.

So this guy made a bot that takes a snapshot (equivalent to the “print screen” function on your keyboard) of the garbled keyword, attaches it to an e-mail, and sends it to a company in India. There, one of dozens of employees making 50 cents an hour reads the keyword, types into a reply e-mail, and sends it back to the bot. This allows for the bot to buy hundreds of tickets in the time it would take a shrieking 8-year-old girl to convince her father to buy one.

The inventor of this idea outsourced the human element. This is brilliant. Computers can do most things that humans can do, but we can outsource everything else.

My Brilliant Idea

A friend of mine recently attended a baby shower. Like the parents-to-be, he didn’t know the sex of the child, so he had to buy clothing with neutral colors like yellow and green. To avoid the travesty of having your future son wearing a yellow bib, my solution is this:

Reversible baby clothes.

One side is pink, the other baby blue. I thought for sure that someone would have thought of this already, and although I’m sure someone has, I couldn’t find such a product from a Google search. Maybe it’s cost-prohibitive, as baby clothes are very cheap. But it seems quite logical.


NFL Football Predictors
Jon Voight Exercise Video
Short-Story Rejection Update
New Year’s Resolutions (Do People Still Make These?)

Coming soon…

The Top Movies I Watched in 2007

0 thoughts on “My Greatest Shame Part 2: The Plunger”

  1. I think a plunger is an essential home item. I have yet to use mine at my current apartment, but I have it on hand just in case. You should not be ashamed for taking proper precautions. I would, however, love to read in a future post a list of the most embarrassing items to buy at the grocery store.

    I say we ditch the blue/pink for babies. Studies show that their visual development is helped by surrounding them with primary colors (thus, most baby toys are red, green, blue, and/or yellow). If people are going to have babies, they might as well make them as good as possible.

  2. Good call on the plunger. I regret not having it on hand. I’ll work on that list.

    That’s really interesting about the colors. I shall swath my baby in primary colors.


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