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Humor / Potty Training / Restaurants

The one thing you don’t want to happen in a public restroom

So you’re sitting in a coffee shop. An independent one, with a personality. Like your very own caffeinated Cheers.

“Truncation-of-your-name!” the barista says as you walk in, already preparing your Americano with room for cream. You chit-chat with her, perhaps not as wittily as Norm does with Sam, and you get your frequent sipper card stamped.

You love this coffee shop, this convenient and friendly place to hang out between your gym and your kindergartener’s’ school. You set up your laptop and check some emails . After awhile, the coffee starts to do its thing, waking up all parts of your body as it moves through your digestive tract. Hello, Large Bowel!

You go to the stall-less bathroom and do your business. No big deal. And, I literally mean, no big deal.

Are you with me?

You press the flusher and the toilet does its filling thing. And it keeps doing its filling thing and keeps doing its filling thing, but without doing its draining thing. As the water level rises, so does your panic.


You scoop your bag off the floor (even though it’s waaaaay in the corner and most likely out of harm’s reach) and step awaaaaay from the commode to protect your new gym shoes.

Now. What do you do?

(Hypothetically, of course.)

Lori is a mom via open adoption to Tessa, 10, and Reed, 8, and they live in the metro-Denver area. She writes regularly at and vehemently denies any resemblance to the hypothetical heroine in this post.

Image: savit keawtavee /

Lori Holden
Author: Lori Holden

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  1. Two words: Uh ohhhhhhhhhhhhh.

  2. Annnnd, Amber. What would you do?

  3. So, you calmly walk out and say “the toilets overflowing” and go about your day. Am I the only one who has no sense of embarrassment here?

  4. You don’t want to ask me. My water broke in very public booth #3 at Einstein Bros.

  5. well first I would push my emotions between crying and cursing, because I’m such a classy lady…LOL and then I would probably own up to it and go out and tell them “we have a problem”, knowing me I’d grab the mop and help clean up….all while talkingand talking and talking too much.

    sooooo what did happen????

  6. i think i would say… “um, your toilet is overflowing” and leave it at that. I DEFINITELY wouldn’t say, “um… i made your toilet overflow.” I would be too embarrassed.

  7. Oh, Amber. Is that story anywhere online? If not, it should be.

    Mary-Frances and OnceaMother, you are both so sane and calm. Honestly, that honest response never even occurred to me.

    Kir, check out for some funny comments, and for my follow up post.

  8. I’d be embarrassed. I’ve got an irrational fear of overflowing toilets, ever since a childhood incident at my Brownie Leader’s house in her CARPETED bathroom. Who carpets a bathroom?

    I’d probably say, “I think there’s a plumbing issue in your bathroom?” and leave it at that. They can’t prove who caused it…

  9. Leave. In a hurry. Never come back

  10. I’m with Barb… and then I’d Tweet about it, Text Laura and Barb and them post a FB photo of the mess….

    Oh… and use Dave’s account so no one can track it back to me.

  11. If the tank has a lid like the ones at home, I’m an expert at whipping that sucker off and pulling up the thingy to get it to stop filling…at the very first indication of the gurgle. You know the gurgle I’m talking about…the “well, that’s not going down” gurgle. Then, the water in the bowl will stop and hopefully drain before you can release it.

    If the tank doesn’t have a lid like the ones at home, you grab your purse and go wash your hands. Then, just tell the people that someone may want to check on the “issue.”


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