Awkward Family Story: The Plunge

July 27th, 2009

We were staying at my in-laws’ house over Easter. They live in a small town. During the afternoon when 17 family members were there to visit, I needed to use the bathroom after a pretty large meal. I stopped up the commode with the copious amounts of toilet paper required after the deed. My in-laws, unfortunately, did not own a plunger, and all the shops in town were closed for the Easter holiday. So, my father-in-law used his arm to unstop the commode.


(submitted by Andrea)

97 Responses to “Awkward Family Story: The Plunge”

  1. O.O says:


  2. sarah says:

    noooooooooo, oh god no! That is so not right!

  3. Clever A. says:

    I know the person who posted this and can attest to the story being true. I don’t think I could have EVER returned to the scene of the crime had it been me. However, she has many times (what a brave soul)! She isn’t a “large marge” of a woman (not that you were implying that she was). Sometimes things just go down crooked and then you get a backup. Courtesy flushes are definitely advisable! Of course, then everyone begins to glance nervously at the bathroom door, as you flush multiple times, wondering exactly what you are leaving in there. However, that is better than what this person had to deal with.

    I guess commode is a southern term. I commonly hear it referred to as such. It sounds (to me) more genteel than toilet. To each their own.

  4. tracy says:

    I worked in my office for 11 years, when a large marge of a woman was hired. Within the first week, she was at my desk asking me if we had a plunger. In an office of 10 employees, half of whom were men, we had never had an issue with the plumbing…..I believe my answer to her was “uh, why don’tcha look back there in that closet”…..then I promptly sent an email to the boss in charge of Maintenance. He very loudly came up to my desk and carried on about what had happened? Did anyone find a plunger? Did I call a plumber? Meanwhile, the new woman was sitting at her desk within 7 feet of him. In a matter of 3 months, that plunger got quite a workout…..AWKWARD…..

  5. Andrea says:

    Has my awkward story been published long enough ago to finally comment on it? Yes, it really happened, really and truly. Not made up. Yes, it was awkward, horrifying, gross, “not OK”, and embarrassing. Why didn’t they have a plunger? Who knows? I never asked. It’s my father-in-law’s nature, though, to get frustrated with something and “JUST FIX IT DANG IT stop pussy-footing around already”. Why didn’t he use a stick or golf club? I don’t know. After finding out that he had stuck his arm down into a vat of my waste, I wasn’t up for a conversation about it. Was there an open Wal-Mart? Sure, about a 1/2 hour drive away. Family holiday, 17 people in the house, no one wanted to dissappear for 1+ hour to buy a plunger. Why didn’t he borrow a neighbor’s? Gross. That’s like asking to borrow their toothbrush. And yes, I’m from the south, probably why I used that awkward word “commode”.

    It’s kind of amusing to see a story you lived and you know is perfectly true torn apart by the internets!

    • laughin says:

      An hour drive away from everyone who knows what is going on is MUCH better than sticking my arm (or letting anyone else stick their arm) in my crap.

      Borrowing or buying a used plunger is gross? Really? And sticking an arm down in a filled toilet is somehow preferable? That’s just plain nuts.

      It is nothing like borrowing a toothbrush. You don’t stick it in your mouth–you stick it in your filthy toilet for maybe 5 minutes, you wrap it up and throw it away. You don’t return it–you buy the neighbor a better model when you buy one for yourself when the stores open again.

      • Andrea says:

        laughin, good thing you are not my father-in-law! You would have had me suffer humiliation and he was kind enough to spare me, for the most part. By the time I knew anything, the arm had gone in and the whole deal was over with. I just asked my husband, “Would you find out from your dad where their plunger is?” and the next thing I knew he’d stuck his arm in and gotten rid of the whole nightmare. No one asked me if I’d like to drive and get a plunger. You seem to think we had a long and protracted group conversation about the pros and cons of the various possibile solutions, taken a vote, and chose the arm. The whole thing was over and done with before I’d ever offered just to kill myself to redirect the attention elsewhere!

        You internet people are crazy with your opinions!

  6. Stephanie says:

    Actually, this is how Marlon Brando got the role of Stanley Kowalski in “Streetcar Named Desire”. The toilet in Tennessee Williams’ bathroom got stopped up, and Marlon went in there and reached in with his hand to release the copious amount of crap from the crapper.
    Tennessee and his lover were so impressed by his machismo (and beauty) that he got the part.

  7. luna says:

    a great trick for unclogging toilets is, wait till it has drained a little, and keep filling it up with was (not by flushing, get a bucket and pour it in) eventually the pressure clears it

    • Matthew says:

      Yes, this does help most of the time. Also, if you have to turn the water off for whatever reason (a leak for example) the toilet is still fully functional if you just flush manually with a bucket. You’d be surprised how many people don’t think of simple things like this.

  8. Frank says:

    does anyone remember the group depeche commode?

  9. Bessie Mae says:

    Hahahahahaha!!! This is sooo funny and gross at the same time. My son makes the big hard poop and clogged the toilet bowl bigtime and I let him use the wire hanger to disintegrate the stool and easier to flush it down, ewww! but it works, try it! LOL………………

  10. orangeTNman says:

    Hey, I understand that sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do…..but that’s just frikkin’ nasty!!

  11. Renee K. says:

    LOL great story.

    I grew up in the U.S. south (Virginia) and the word commode was more commonly used than toilet. I didn’t start saying toilet regularly until I married and moved to another part of the country.

  12. Jess says:

    NOT OK!!!!!!!

  13. Bill says:

    Who doesn’t own a plunger?!?

  14. Danni says:

    More awkward: Calling the toilet a commode.

  15. Bernardo says:

    Did he say goodbye later with a firm handshake, or was it a big hug?

    • Anna says:

      Bwahahaha! Good one!
      I think you win a complementary plunger.

      • Lydia says:

        She should have known to wrap it up in newspaper…everyone knows that mom’s toilet doesn’t flush big number twos…plus, she should have laid off on the vegetarian chili… 😉

  16. Rachel says:

    No shops open on Easter? come on everywhere has a Walmart! Toliet emergency- pour a little dish soap in and wait 10 minutes or so and flush- works when the plunger won’t. Anyway when your hosts sticks his arm in that nasty toliet the partys no worrys about all guests personal needs- they are not stayin for ham.

  17. Allen says:


  18. Betsy says:

    I sincerely hope he wrapped his arm in a trash bag before taking the plunge…

  19. Amelia says:

    Maybe he was the kind of guy who has done it all?
    Kind of like Mike Rowe.

  20. Kristie says:

    Well, I won’t call “fake story” because the same thing *sort of* happened to us once. My husband and I had just moved and my future brother-in-law (sister’s boyfriend at the time) came over to help. Although I’m sure we owned a plunger, we hadn’t yet unpacked it, and he clogged up the toilet. However, HIS way of handling it was to firmly shut the door, forbid ANY of us from entering the room, and then drive to the local hardware store to buy us a new plunger. We still call it the Best Housewarming Gift ever. 🙂

    Perhaps that might have been a more palatable solution for the OP, as well.

  21. lucy says:

    I went a long time without a plunger. I just never really needed one at my house. As is so common, toilets only get stopped up when you’re at someone else’s house. I have one now to accommodate my guests and to save them from this kind of embarrassment and awkwardness.

    My family uses the word commode. I assumed it was just an old fashioned way of saying it. I think it’s more common in the South.

  22. Jeffy says:

    My, that WAS awkturd!

  23. Bleah! says:

    Don’t forget to burn a match!

  24. Michelle says:

    two words I’m sure she’ll never EVER forget

  25. Lamech says:

    Two solutions for next time:

    1) preemptive flush
    2) plunger in the trunk of the car

  26. David says:

    Look, gross or awkward, it had to be done. Otherwise, everyone would have to hold it the rest of the weekend. Now that would be awkward.

  27. 1 says:

    It would have been considerably less awkward if you had done the decent thing and asked him to let you use your own arm to clean up your own mess.

  28. Megan says:

    Kinda sad that I read this while I was eating lunch… that’s just gross, not awkward. And if anyone was throwing their hand down the toilet, shouldn’t it have been the person that caused the whole mess?

  29. Tonya Lynn says:

    I’m sure thats not a family story that is shared every year… Haha… awkward and disgusting… awkward and disgusting…

  30. Ingrid says:

    I could think of several better options than using one’s hand as a toilet plunger. I’m also not buying that this family did not own a plunger. This seriously sounds like something my brother would have made up when he was a kid. “And then he had to stick his hand in the poop!!”

    I’m calling fake story.

  31. Sarah says:

    On of my worst fears! Like the scene in that movie “Along came Polly”

  32. Maureen says:

    What’s happening to this site?

  33. JPT60 says:

    Why not a metal coat hanger or something? Which would be awkward enough.

  34. doggiekittymama says:

    Use a metal coathanger-I knew someone whose son regularly caused this problem and that is what she used. And yes it is more gross than akward.

  35. Hero Hog says:

    A coat hanger is your friend in cases like this! My arm? Not unless the Hope diamond is under there and, even then, I would sub-contract THAT out!

  36. Carol says:

    Not awkward, just disgusting.

  37. Sara says:

    Who doesn’t own a plunger??? You’re telling me this family has NEVER EVER stopped up the toilet themselves?

    • Lamech says:

      Maybe they fish them out and wrap them in newspaper.

      • Knick says:

        Hahahahahaha Love it!

      • HF_Buick says:

        OMG…i dunno what’s worse, the fact that you referenced a past “awkward poo moment” from before or the fact that i KNOW what moment you are referencing…eww!

        “you might want to stay at Michael’s house…your grandma’s bathroom/plumbing is not very good…”

    • Michelle says:

      I was thinking the same thing. Isn’t a plunger on the universal “Things to Buy When Moving Into a New House” list along with trash bags and a broom?

      Also, unless they had some non-standard plumbing, a man’s arm would not be able to get into the U-bend.

      • Rebekah says:

        I’m sorry, but when you move into a new place, the FIRST thing you should purchase is a plunger!!! Even if you never have to use it, EVERY home in America should have one. It’s insurance that you never have to stick your hands into a pond of someone else’s feces.

      • Joe says:

        maybe their other plunger broke the last time it got backed up.

    • Lili says:

      My thoughts exactly!

    • milo says:

      Things happen, I remember my family had a similar situation. Our plunger had broken and we simply never got around to replacing it. A guest stopped up the toilet, but thankfully we had two bathrooms so we just let things sit till the next day.

  38. Cee says:

    Oh oh oh.. I’m cringing here for you…. very ackward!

  39. Gravy-Locks says:

    I HIGHLY doubt that.

    Try and tell me they wouldn’t try and use a stick first? Close the lid and wait till morn? Go ask a neighbor? Use a foot first?


    • cheryl says:

      Oh no Mr. Gravy-Locks. I once had a toilet clog. When the plumber came, he inserted his arm almost to the armpit in the stinky cesspit. So disgusting…As were his clothes…and his smell….
      Very Real.
      Gaggingly yours,

      • Cyndee says:

        we had a plumber when the basement flooded, and same thing, bare arm into the drain pulling out things that had been flushed down the toilet. So gross!

  40. Rick says:

    Ummmm … That’s beyond awkward. That’s just …. well, I can’t even describe …. um … I want to be sick. Had they considered a stick or some other implement other than an arm!!!!!!

    • Bryone says:

      Right? The only thing the guy could come up with was his hand? Really? Not a toilet brush? A Hanger? Ruler? Hair brush duct taped to a broom handle? Your hand? Really? Thats all you got,

      “Oh wow, lookie there, no plunger? No problem, let me just get a handful…um…wait…oh yeah, that got it… wow, that hurt comin out there fella? No problem. Can i make you sandwich?”


      • laughin says:

        Don’t they have any neighbors they could have called? Or gone door-to-door and asked to borrow a plunger? Or BUY a used plunger from one of the neighbors for $20? Or $100! It would be worth it to unstop the toilet without sticking your arm down it. Or worse, having your father in law do it and the ENTIRE FAMILY know about the whole thing. You’d never live it down. Ever. It would be the best $100 I ever spent, honestly. But in general, I’m guessing none of them were too bright.

  41. Mo says:

    This is not only awkward – it’s disgusting!

  42. Wow, I wouldn’t even do that for my own mess!

  43. Annie says:

    Oh Lordy! That is awkward. Hm. In cases like that (with copious amounts of poo/blood/whatever) I flush the toilet multiple times so that wouldn’t happen. My future bro-in-law did the same thing and didn’t notice the toilet ’till I was about to go. He broke into the bathroom as I was trying to unstop the thing b/c he was so embarassed (almost as embarrassed as I am over my lack of ability to spell fifth-grade-level words, lol). S**t happens, I suppose.

  44. Michelle says:

    That’s not awkward… that’s disgusting

  45. Jor says:

    The fact that you used the word “commode” is more awkward to me than a guy using his hands to unplug a toilet.

    • Brandon says:

      She’s probably British.

      • fg says:

        I live in Britain and have never heard the word “commode” used.

        I would counter that blocking the toilet is more an American phenomena as this has never happened to me or family, maybe the US plumbing is worse or the ammount of food consumed greater.

        • Lamech says:

          Yes. We’re all so fat on this side of the pond that our gigantic poops cannot travel through normal plumbing. Most of us have resigned ourselves to using chamber pots.

          • Binky says:

            Ha! Thank you Lamech for that small glimmer of light on my otherwise truly dismal day. Funny stuff.

          • karenUK says:

            LOL, just as I thought!

            PS, I have never known a fellow Brit to use the word commode being used for a toilet.

        • Holland says:

          I would completely disagree with the US plumbing being worse. I just finished traveling over there and American plumbing is far superior (based on my experiences). I would side more with the amount of food consumed argument…we do eat WAY too much over here! 🙂

        • sos says:

          Read the post again. It was the huge amount of toilet paper he used that clogged the toilet, not the size of his poo.

        • emm says:

          oh yes, british plumbing is far superior! ask me–i paid extra for a room with a shower in it, and it was a tub with a garden hose running up a pole where the water poured out in one big stream. lovely, just lovely.

          • Fixie-dent says:

            Yes, well obviously this is how all Britons live.
            Just as ll Americans eat nothing but burgers and fire guns out of the sunroofs of their enormous trucks.


    • May Ann Naze says:

      Could be a southern thing. My parents have always used that term so it didn’t even occur to me that it was awkward. Then again, I don’t come from a totally normal family.

  46. Ewww says:

    I think I felt the universe wobble–this goes waaaay beyond awkward, careening into drop-dead-from-embarrassment.

  47. Tressa says:

    That isn’t awkward, that is gross.

  48. Marie says:

    too much information

  49. mel says:

    What a nightmare!!!! LOL, yeah, just a tiny bit awkward.

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