Doctor Pliers

These past few days were full of surprises.

When visiting with friends, we answer many questions about living in the coach and the function of its systems.  In fact, the function of the coach has been a frequent topic of this triplog.  Lately however, we have had trouble with our electric toilet.  Yes, we have and electric toilet.  Here’s the deal:  In a house, where the toilet is permanently connected to the sewer, odors are kept at bay via a water-filled gooseneck cast into the toilet.  However, our electric toilet works differently.  The toilet in the coach empties into a holding tank, which is periodically emptied to the sewer.  There is no gooseneck to keep the holding tank odors at bay, so some other solution must be used.  The designers used a system similar to airplanes, where a little trap door slides back when the toilet is flushed.  At the end of the flush cycle, the door slides back into place and a little extra water is squirted into the bowl.  In theory, a water-tight seal is formed and the water in the bowl keeps out the holding tank odors.  Lately the toilet has not been holding water and the trap door has been making noise.

So why are you reading about this?  Well, read on. . .

One Sunday morning while working out at the gym, I hear my name being called.  Jeanne was on the phone with bad news:  The trap door on the toilet is stuck and after repeatedly pushing the button to flush, the bowl is now full of water and, well, other stuff.  Cutting the workout short I headed home to deal with the emergency.  After consulting the instruction manual, it seems the designers anticipated this problem by placing a knob at the back of the toilet to manually open and close the trap door.  This is a temporary solution at best.  On Monday, after spending an hour on the phone, we arranged to have the repairs done locally under warranty.  This is a two step process.  Step one is to bring the coach in for evaluation so parts can be ordered and step two is to bring the coach in at a later date for the actual repair.  So, try to imagine bringing the house to the plumber, instead of the plumber coming to the house.  We made the evaluation trip on the 18th and the repair is scheduled for the 30th.  What a hassle.  In the meantime, we are never quite sure how the electric toilet will perform.

The weather changed and the winds have been blowing all week long, which is not unusual for Southern California this time of year.  Ryan, one of the grandsons, wanted to go shooting on a Monday when school was closed for teacher conferences.  Taking a chance on the weather, we headed for the range.  It was disaster.  The wind was blowing so hard that Ryan was literally blown out of his chair.  From time to time we were showered with sand and gravel.  There was a real danger that unattended firearms would be blown off the shooting benches.  But despite these problems, Ryan was still able to crank off about three hundred rounds of .22s.  He was a good sport about it and seemed to enjoy the day, such as it was.  I still find gravel in my jacket pockets from that day.

On another blustery day, I want trap shooting with Steve, Cathy and their son.  Despite the challenging wind, we really had a good time.  It had been over a year since we saw them last and they seem to be doing fine.  We hope to see them again before moving on.

Real dental disaster struck on a return visit to the dentist.  After healing up from the root canal and wisdom tooth extraction, it was now time to have a cap fitted to the root canal tooth.  Try picturing yourself in the dentist chair with the dentist grinding away when he suddenly stops and says “Uh oh”.  After inspecting the half-ground tooth, he announced that the tooth was cracked and may have to come out.  After a phone call, I’m on the way to the tooth-puller guy about three blocks away.  Still numb, I plop into the chair and wait for “Doc Pliers” to appear.  The conversation went something like this:

Dentist:  “Well Martin, here we are again.”

Me:  “Doc, I think you’re a good guy, but to tell the truth, I never wanted to see you again.”

D:  Laughing.  “I probably wouldn’t want to see me again either.  What seems to be the problem?”

M:  “Well, you probably already talked with Doctor (name withheld), who thinks the tooth is cracked and may have to come out.”

D:  “O.K., let’s see what’s going on here.”

The dentist took a few minutes to inspect the tooth.

D:  “Martin, the tooth has to come out.”

M:  With a resigned sigh “Doc, let’s get it over with.”

At the end of the procedure, the dentist announced that the tooth had broken into three pieces.  With blood stained hands, he carefully reassembled the tooth for me to inspect.  On the drive home, while chomping down on a bloody wad of gauze, I realized that I’m the only guy I know who bought a root canal he didn’t really need.

On the third day of jury selection, Jeanne was released from jury duty.  When the court revealed more information about the case as part of the jury selection process, Jeanne wanted nothing to do with it.  To be sure, this had nothing to do with shirking civic responsibility — Jeanne had served on juries before and even was the jury foreman on a criminal case.  However, sitting through this particular case would have been an awful experience.  The excusal was very much appreciated.