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STAFF BLOG | Where are the plungers?

The first tweet in a series of rants and confusion I've expressed on Twitter.
The first tweet in a series of rants and confusion I’ve expressed on Twitter.

Due to an incredibly strange campus problem that happened earlier this week, I now have a plunger story to tell. A surprisingly ungross one too.

Thanks, Life.

It all started when, at around 9 p.m. on Monday, April 15, the toilet in the upstairs level of my housing unit got clogged. Essentially, my roommates and I needed to get a plunger and, because none of us had one, I called up my RA.

To my utter surprise, she said she didn’t have one. Unable to help me, she told me to call Public Safety.

When I rung up Public Safety at 9:25 p.m., the officer-on-duty immediately suggested I call my RA. The levels of confusion I was experiencing at the moment were off the charts as I explained to him, “Um, actually, she told me to call you…”

We continued to engage in further awkwardness until he said he could ask another officer  — who was out doing lock-ups — to stop by my unit and assist me. Then he said that this officer might not do it since it wasn’t part of his official duties. He then hung up on me right when I tried to ask if the guy would call us.

About 20 minutes later at 9:47 p.m., I called the security kiosk again and inquired about the visiting officer as he has not stopped by yet. The same officer-on-duty informed me that the man was aware of my situation but there were some delays in the lock-ups and to call back after 10 p.m.

I waited in the living room tweeting annoyed comments on my phone to pass the time. I heard footsteps outside my door and assumed it was the visiting officer. I opened the door but found only another young woman and her guest walking into her unit across the hall.

I asked her whether she had a plunger we could borrow. She was very nice about it and walked in to check on her roommate who apparently owned one. She came back with an apologetic expression, told me her roommate was in the shower and how she’d usually take forever to wash up. I understood as it was late so I let her be.

Still no word, it was 10:27 p.m. when I called back. A female voice answered my call and that’s when I realized that the previous officer-on-duty basically waited until his shift ended and dumped my problem onto another officer when I called back after 10 p.m.

I’m grateful that the female officer was kind and accommodating. Being much more proactive, she said she would help me and would be on a lookout for a plunger. When I called back again at 11:01 p.m., she was sorry as they could not seem to find one so far. I was grateful for her assistance but was flabbergasted that not one facilities closet on campus had a plunger in stock. Where are the plungers? Seriously?

At around 11:20 p.m. the same female officer finally stopped by and dropped one off for me. She was even nicer in person.

It finally arrived! (Photo by Melodie Miu)
It finally arrived! (Photo by Melodie Miu)

We both couldn’t help but laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. As she was sorry for how long it took, I too felt guilty that the search took so much effort on her part. She instructed that after I’m done, I could wrap it up in a plastic bag, leave it outside my unit and call Public Safety again to pick it up. Which I did.

The Post-it was a "Thank you" note to Public Safety for their help. (Melodie Miu)
The Post-it was a “Thank you” note to Public Safety for their help. (Melodie Miu)

As she was about to leave, she recommended that we’d buy one as 99 cent stores tend to sell them cheap. I told her I would take her advice.

I think the reason I’m telling this story is to inquire why such a silly campus problem exists when it could be easily solved? It took about two hours for me to obtain a plunger and it inconvenienced everyone in the process.

I understand that I could have sent a work order to get the problem fixed but no one would have come to help until the next day when all my roommates and I had to do was take a few minutes to do some unclogging and avoid crowding each other in the downstairs bathroom in the morning.

I’m not trying to condemn either Public Safety or my RA. But it’s weird that they pointed me in each other’s direction, both unable to help me. You’d think Mills admins would provide all the RAs a spare one in case of clogging problems. I can’t possibly be the first person to call mine up about a broken toilet.

I also couldn’t believe that my housing unit wasn’t provided a plunger in the first place like how we were provided trash cans and recycling bins. It seemed like such a missed opportunity too! Just imagine how much money they’d make off us if they added this to the rest of the weird and expensive arbitrary charges we’d get every time we move out: Left the plunger unclean? $100!