Dr. Janice Johnson looked at the toilet. It looked fine to her. She looked again and flushed it. When the initial torrent
faded away, she heard it: a faint hiss in the tank.
She pulled the lid off and peered inside. Could this be the source of her water bill explosion? She closed the lid and picked
up her water bill that was now clad in a smattering of water. Looking carefully, she thought she could finally decipher the
hieroglyphically encoded implication — she owed a lot more money than she usually owed. Monthly water consumption at the clinic
over the past 60 days had been five times higher than previous months.
The next morning she arrived at the clinic early to a stack of bills and the usual client exasperations over this and that
from the day before. It took her 45 minutes to get through the morass of notes and phone calls and finally be able to see
Dr. Johnson loved her work and loved her patients. This morning there was a diabetic cat waiting in a cage for a blood draw.
Below her was a small rat terrier scheduled to be spayed later in the morning. Her name was Juanita.
Jill Prescott, a veterinary assistant, came briskly into the room. "Hey, Dr. Johnson, there's a hissing sound coming from
the bathroom toilet. It's been there for several weeks. Has anyone told you?"
"No one told me anything," she said, sarcastically.
Jill nodded sheepishly. "Do you think it's a problem?"
"I don't know," Dr. Johnson said, "but I'll call the plumber this morning and have it checked out."
Later that morning, Dr. Johnson called Acme Plumbing. As she did, she noticed a payroll printout her bookkeeper had left for
her. "Criminy," she muttered to herself. "I'd like to pay people more, but I'm barely making payroll as it is."
Later that afternoon, Jimmy Smithson from Acme Plumbing arrived. He was fresh-faced and bowlegged and talked out of the side
of his mouth in a western style. It was easy to tell he spent his leisure time around horses.
Jimmy spent a few minutes in the bathroom, then caught Dr. Johnson on her way out of an exam room. "Hey, doc," he said, "you've
probably been losing a lot of water around your toilet flapper. Your wax ring is leaking, too."
"Can you fix it?" Dr. Johnson asked.
"Sure can," Jimmy replied, "and the parts are cheap. I can go to Wal-Mart and pick 'em up. I'll be back here in a jiffy."
Jimmy was back again in about an hour. In another 30 minutes, he'd fix both problems.
He presented a bill and said, "That wax ring was a bugger!"