A plumber visited my Claremont rental the other morning to fix a troubled toilet. At one point his partner remarked on an object in the tank: “Is that a rock?” “It’s there to displace water,” the plumber explained.
I overheard the exchange from the other room and felt a touch sheepish. The rock, large enough to break a window or brain a fellow with, was in the tank in 1999 when I moved in. I have the idea the goal is, as the plumber said, to displace water, i.e., to use slightly less water with each flush than would otherwise flow. But does it work that way? Or am I merely a man with the beginnings of a toilet tank terrarium?
Before they left, I said to the main plumber, quietly: “I inherited the rock. Does it do anything?”
Not really, was the reply. Should I remove it, I asked? No need.
“It’s found its natural place of rest,” the plumber said with a wry smile. “It’s not hurting anything. You wouldn’t want to disturb the natural order of the universe.”
We can’t let things get out of balance, I agreed.
“If you take it out,” the plumber continued, “you’ll be wondering why everything else in your life starts going wrong.”
Leaving well enough alone, I left the rock undisturbed.