Susan and I were having dinner at a lovely little bistro in Salerno, Italy when it happened. I blame the alcohol; in the midst of a superlative food orgy we'd shared a carafe of wine, which leveled me almost instantly.
As dinner wound to a close, I sensed the urgent need to use the facilities. The restroom in this particular restaurant was small, toilet and sink crammed into the bare minimum of square footage. You know the routine: I discharged my cargo, buckled my pants back up and hit the flush button.
I hit the button again. Then a third time. The toilet slumbered peacefully, unaware that I had made a deposit that was rapidly putrefying the tiny space.
In this situation, there are really only two things to do: I could either throw up my hands and walk away from the mess (and pray that no one was waiting outside the flimsy bathroom door) or I could find someone to help me fix the toilet.
Now I admit, my usual responsein these situations is to melt away into the night. However, in my drunken euphoria I felt compelled to do the right thing.
Salerno is in the heart of Italy's Amalfi coast. It's quite touristy, so it was certainly bad luck that the waiter I flagged down was the one guy in the restaurant who didn't speak a word of english. I mimed out what had happened (this included arm gestures that, in retrospect, probably resembled a man trying to stop a broken soft-serve machine). Ignoring his puzzled expression, I waved at him to follow me into the bathroom. Guardedly, he came.
Firmly ensconced in the tiny restroom, I pointed emphatically to the contents of the toilet bowl, nodding towards them as if to say see what I've been dealing with? The waiter worriedly appraised me as I reached out to demonstrate the broken flushing mechanism.
The toilet worked perfectly.
Inwardly I cursed my backfiring plan. I wracked myself for an Italian curse word that would communicate that this was not expected. A muted "Sacre Bleu!" was the closest I could come.
The waiter - who apparently didn't speak French either - was flabbergasted to put it mildly. It was understandable - from his perspective, I had invited him into the bathroom to watch me flush.
There's no good ending to the story. I was far too shocked and demoralized to try and save the situation. I flashed him a weak thumbs up, too ashamed to meet his gaze. When I sensed he'd vacated the premises, I rushed back to our table and informed Susan that we needed to leave immediately. I left a big tip to ensure their silence, but I fear word of this will leak out no matter what I do.
In politics, they say you need to get ahead of the story to control it, so I guess that's what I'm doing now. Remember, you heard it here first: I made a waiter watch me flush.
Noah's Inner Monologue
Scribblings of a man who can barely operate an idiotproof website.