At Some Point In Your Life, You Might Clog A Toilet At A Friend’s House — Here’s What To Do When That Happens

Photographed by Ashley Armitage.
Shit happens. Literally, it does. And sometimes it happens at the most inconvenient time, with the most horrifying consequences.
Allow us to set a nightmarish scene that you're likely all too familiar with: You're over at a friend's house for a party, and you slip off to the bathroom. Once you're done doing whatever you needed to do, you flush and to your horror, the toilet doesn't seem up to the task. You try flushing again, and it gives an impotent groan, but nothing else happens. Or worse, it begins to fill with more water, but its contents go nowhere. The more filled the toilet bowl becomes, the more you, too, become filled with utter terror. So what do you do? Well, there are a few options.
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You can scream, alerting your host and every other guest at the party to the destruction you have just inflicted on this poor bathroom. You can fall to your knees and pray to whatever higher power you believe in to magically unclog these pipes in exchange for a lifetime of unwavering devotion. Or you can do what Lizzie Post, an actual etiquette expert and the co-president of The Emily Post Institute, says is most appropriate in this absurdly inappropriate situation.
"Oh, my gosh, this is so embarrassing and it's so tough," Post tells Refinery29. But, according to her, there are a few steps you can take to handle it with grace. "Number one, turn on any fan that you can — I always think that helps. Or strike a match just to help with odor," she explains.
Once you've addressed the smell, Post says, it's time to find your host and make him or her aware of the situation. "I would say, 'I've got a real problem and I'm so sorry for this, but I would love to deal with it as discreetly as we can. I'm happy to help in any way. I used your restroom and now the toilet is clogged.'" Post emphasizes that it's totally okay to let your host know that you really are embarrassed and you would rather the other partygoers aren't privy — pun intended — to the predicament.
Once you've told your host, they have a few options for how to proceed. "A kind friend will do something like hang a sign on the door to direct people to a different bathroom, or they'll take care of it quietly while the party carries on," Post explains. "They might find a way to announce to the party that the one bathroom in the household has been clogged, and we're going to need to use the neighbor's or go downstairs to the local coffee shop." By following these etiquette-expert-approved steps, you may be able to leave the party with your dignity still intact, even if your friend's bathroom isn't.
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