Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Smuggling Toilets

While there has been a tremendous amount of paper and printer's ink spent on discussing the flow of marijuana and other illegal drugs from Mexico to the United States, there has been precious little written about contraband flowing from another direction: Canada.

A little background. In 1992 Congress passed the Energy Policy and Conservation Act,which dictated that in the U.S. people had to buy 1.6-gallon toilets instead of the 3.5 gallon models that had been the standard. Unfortunately, the new, green, water-saving johnnies did not work very well when it came to dealing with Number Two. The result was that people had to flush several times instead of once. It became questionable as to whether there was any real savings. This was the result of dealing with four-flushers!

What was to be done to ensure a firm flush? There were two possibilities: (a) re-use old 3.5 gallon toilets from older houses; or (b) bring in a 3.5 gallon model from Canada. This became a big, going concern near Detroit, that hotbed of crime. It also became a smuggling concern in several other northern states, including North Dakota!

Once my Da needed to replace an old thunder mug with another; and instead of simply going to the store and getting an All-American 1.6 gallon version, he decided tto go road trip and bring one in from nearby Canada. Now, for you living in warmer America, us citizens living on the border have more frequent intercourse with Canada; with casual trips across the unguarded frontier through checkpoints and finding Canadian coins in our change that often gets used. [Stop thinking that!]

Anyway, he invited me along for a ride the following morning: a toilet-obtaining trip.The evening before our trip, by chance we watched an old movie called "Thunder Road," with Robert Mitchum playing a moonshiner, with romantic ballad title song. And my mind went into a thought: "Wow, we're doing something seriously illegal!"

Anyway, it was a nice, crisp day. We drove to Winnipeg and bought three new thrones [!]: one that he planned to install in the spare bathroom, and two for neighbors. We go in for civil disobedience in a big way here in North Dakota. I wonder if other states are also lawless?Anyway, we went back to the U.S. and go through the port of entry. The border guy asked Da if we were bringing back drugs or alcohol.


"What's in the truck bed?"

"Just some toilets."I cringed, expecting that we would get arrested. Do they put teens in prison for smuggling for many years? That so totally would screw up my prom

"Those Canadian ones?

"Yup."("Oh nuts We're done."

"Aww.......go awn through."

Apparently, some lawlessness falls below the official radar. And maybe that's an example of an in-he-field judgement call. If Congress is wrong-minded, right-thinking and practical people have to get things back on track. No one wants a floater lingering in a toilet in mid-summer!


  1. A very interesting story. I was not aware that there's government regulation of toilets. Congress can be too imaginative at times. Maybe they could some day address the insufficiency of toilets in ladies' rooms and why there are long lines. No, most of them are guys!

  2. It must have been fun to tell your classmates afterward. Good story, banana oil!

  3. The Great John Caper. Sounds like a book title!

  4. So, the new 1.6 GPF toilets would be a straight flush, whereas the older 3.5 GPF toilets deliver a royal flush. Nice to know Congress was able to get together on the cataclysmically important issue of flush toilets...maybe they'll get around to the economy this year, ha, ha. Did I just hear a 3.5 GPF flush...?