Ryn: Everything is going down the toilet

Rabbit heads, toy trucks, and hockey sticks are not great things to flush down the toilet. But folks still do it.

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

“Anything you can flush down a toilet,” said Butch Burnette, manager of Tucson Plumbing, “someone will eventually find it.”

A whole host of plumbing calamities from across the nation are outlined in a new book, “Chilling Tales from the Porcelain Seat,” with commentary by two Roto-Rooter guys, Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, who double as stars of Ghost Hunters on the SciFi Channel.

The book makes for great bathroom reading – especially since it was custom-sized to fit atop of the toilet tank – as long as you don’t read about the tree frog that snuck up on a man’s privates while he was sitting on his throne.

False teeth were at the top of Burnette’s list of the weirdest things pulled from Old Pueblo potties.

“It’s actually fairly common, believe it or not,” he said. “People end up getting drunk and they puke then wake up and can’t find their teeth.”

Yes, it’s funny, he said – except, of course, for the people who lost the teeth.

Another body part Burnette has been sent to retrieve is a glass eye, with no explanation as to how or why it got there.

Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Some of the stuff found by Roto-Rooter in the book has included a live Civil War cannon shell, hats, toupees, eyeglasses, drug money, cell phones, garden hoses, prisoner pants from an Ohio jail, doorknobs and a hummingbird feeder.

Animals or their parts, like a rabbit head that clogged a toilet after being flushed as the rest of the rabbit was served for dinner, are another strange sewage find.

Burnette once pulled a baby roadrunner from a sewer line, surmising it must have fallen in through a vent or grating.

“I didn’t know what it was,” he said. “I saw a lot of skin at first and then long feathers. It was very strange.”

While Burnette says he never found any dogs, cats or even alligators in the sewers, one of his family members did discover baby coyotes that got in through a drainage canal.

Rattlesnakes and a 4-foot boa constrictor are on the Roto-Rooter guys’ list, as are frogs, pigs, skunks, squirrels, mice, rats and Cornish game hens.

Live kittens have also been rescued from sewer drains, using a fiber optic camera and lots of patience.

Tucson’s eucalyptus trees and oleander may look dandy on the surface, but they, too, are killers when it comes to pipes.

“You can drive anywhere in Tucson and find some really bad root systems,” Burnette said.

“Chilling Tales” explained how pipes, especially old ones, will get miniscule cracks which are quickly filled by roots seeking underground water. More roots will thrive off the tendrils and the next thing you know, you’ve got hundreds of pounds of roots clogging up the waterlines.

The largest root record in “Chilling Tales” is held by a 201-foot, 1,500-pound root that was pulled from a drain in Monterey, Calif., back in 1997.

Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Photo Ryn Gargulinski

I wanted yet another reason to hate Bermuda grass, but Burnette said the grass roots only reach about 6 inches deep, while pipes are nestled at least 1 foot underground.

As fun as all this sewage pipe stuff may be, one of the most amusing—and disgusting—discoveries was in women’s outhouses near California’s Shasta Lake, “Chilling Tales” reports.

The find was a man who sat at the bottom of the outhouses in a lawn chair with an umbrella.

When police finally confronted the guy, who was donning thigh-high fishing boots and waders, he had a simple explanation for his antics.

He had just been looking for his wife’s wedding ring.


Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and TucsonCitizen.com Ryngmaster who hates when her pedometer falls in the toilet. Listen to a preview of her column at 8:10 a.m. Thursdays on KLPX 96.1 FM. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. E-mail rynski@tucsoncitizen.com.

logoWhat’s the strangest thing you ever flushed or heard about being flushed down the toilet?

Are any items important enough to you to retrieve from an outhouse?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
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25 Responses to Ryn: Everything is going down the toilet

  1. Carolyn Classen says:

    There used to be some activity in America’s past when people (frat guys?) used to flush live goldfish down the toilet.  Does anyone remember why?

    • Rynski says:

      Hey Carolyn – couldn’t tell you why someone would want to flush live goldfish down the toilet – but i can say the Chilling Tales book does have a mini-section on what an awful idea that is. it says pipes don’t lead to the ocean and no, a dark, dank, sludgy sewer drain is not better than a fishbowl for keeping a fish.

      • azmouse says:

        I only flushed little dead goldfish, then told my kids they came out at Reid Park pond where we could go visit them.
        Reid Park pond was fish heaven in our house.

      • Rynski says:

        hahah! that’s a sweet little tale, AZMouse. i’ll tell my dogs about your little goldfish in the reid park pond next time sawyer tries to go swimming in it, as he always does.

    • radmax says:

      I thought these fools swallowed the fish as some sort of hazing or initiation perhaps.

  2. radmax says:

    Mornin’ Rynski! UGH! In the snappy or crappy category, this is definitely the latter. I had to remove my entire toilet once when my daughter saw fit to flush a small empty plastic container down the chute. No fun.
    One bright spot about mans’ ‘discards’ is that they make invaluable archaeological records of how our ancestors lived. Called middens, these trash pits have produced some fascinating objects, from murder weapons to archaic forms of contraception, etc. Dates ranging from the first humans to present day man.

    • Rynski says:

      Mornin’ Radmax! – ha! i was thinking this was definitely CRAPPY as i was writing it (haha). that is pretty fascinating about the middens. wow. you could learn as much from toilet and waste sludge as you could from rooting through the garbage cans.
      glad you managed to remove the tiolet without breaking it or cutting yourself! did you rinse and re-use the small empty plastic container? hahahahahha.

  3. azmouse says:

    Wow, what a story, with a great ending involving a guy who obviously has some fetish issues. To each his own.

    When my daughter was little, she poured all my perfume in the toilet then added a bunch of my clothes in there ‘so Mommy can smell pretty’. She just kept flushing apparently to reproduce the spin of a washing machine. Luckily, only a pair of panties got sucked down, which was easily plunged out.

    • Rynski says:

      hahhahahha! wow – what a hilarious story. glad you were able to unclog the pipe without 10 tons of clothes getting stuck. kids are so funny. i was told i once coated the bathroom with talcum powder to “clean” it.
      as for the fetish issues guy, i was really, honestly, TRULY hoping he was actually looking for a ring. that is disgusting beyond disgusting – and i am usually amused by disgusting things (haha).

  4. just me says:

    It isn’t a wedding “Ring” he was looking for HA HA HA!

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