Blowing the lid off

Gene Weingarten on

WASHINGTON -- I am on the phone with Tom Herbort of Franklin, North Carolina.

Me: When my 10-pound cat somehow managed to knock the 10-pound porcelain lid off the toilet tank in my bathroom, and it shattered, I figured this sort of thing would be something that happened so infrequently I'd have to replace the whole tank, or, as my landlady dryly suggested, the whole toilet. So imagine my surprise when I went online and found your company, which is You make a living out of this?

Tom: Yes, and I have four employees, two full time.

Me: Is there an epidemic of cats killing toilet lids?

Tom: You're not the first person with a story about a cat. I don't know if cats just don't like toilets, or if they just don't like people. If they enjoy breaking things, they could break things more convenient, like a lightbulb, but what's the fun in that? You'd just go to the store and replace it, and it doesn't cost $80. Now, this never happens with your basic dog. Your dog will poop on your floor, but he won't break your toilet. He doesn't hate you that much.

Me: How much toilet-lid breakage is there, nationally?


Tom: We average 20 to 30 a day, seven days a week.

Me: Wow! Why?

Tom: I think it's a mathematic certainty. There are 330 million people in the U.S., which means at least 100 million toilets. At least 100 lids are going to break every day.

Me: How does it happen, if not cats?


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