Open Letter to Shop-Vac

Dear Shop-Vac,

Wednesday night we had a cataclysmic toilet flooding event in our home.
You were there for us.
Well, almost.
Sort of.
I truly believe you wanted to be.

I’m going to tell you the story and give you a chance to improve your products for the next toilet-flooded family. Please do so quickly, as the next family might not be so lucky.

We had only been home from church for a few minutes when I started trying to route the girls to bed. Lucy, who is still only 12, seems to think she’s earned a free-for-all bedtime. I feel lucky when she’s down by 9:30. Jenna goes to sleep at 8:30 but when you don’t get home until 8:20, you can be sure 8:30 won’t happen. People were meandering toward the upstairs. I remembered that I had washed Jenna’s sweatshirt and it was in the attic where we have a makeshift laundry room. I went toward the attic and as I was walking down the hall, I heard water running in the hall bath. It seemed like an unusual instance of water running. It wasn’t a bath or shower. It sounded like Brady washing his hands. Brady is the cleanest person in the house. But his door was cracked and he was sitting on the side of his bed looking at his phone. No one was in the bathroom running water. And yet, water was running.

“What’s the sound?” I asked Brady, feeling a little panicked all of a sudden. “What’s the water source?” Brady got up to check his bathroom, while I walked around the corner of my room into my adjoining bathroom. I didn’t have to form the words twice, because I stepped into ankle deep water in my bathroom. The toilet had overflowed and a kiddie pool was forming in my room. Holy cow. I screamed for Brady to go get his dad.

“He’s in the shower,” he answered.

“Get him out. Tell him the bathroom is flooding.” I turned off the water behind the toilet, which at least stopped the water level from rising further. Then I went running. Like a gazelle, I ran. Like a gazelle in the Olympics. It was truly spectacular how fast I moved. I ran downstairs, into the garage, grabbed two shop vacs and was back in my bathroom in just seconds. Meanwhile, as I ran through the dining room, double fisting my shop vacs, I heard more water. My dining room had become the Rainforest Café.

“Jenna, find water. Get pots. Mop dining room!’ Jenna is 10. But she was a rock star during our fiasco. I kept moving.  Every time I passed a kid in the hall, I yelled out, “Who used my toilet?!” Upstairs, a massive operation was underway to suck up the water that was flowing onto the dining room table below. I was sucking up water with the shop vacs, towels, paper towels. The dog. Loofahs. Anything I could find. When the towels became too wet, I tossed them into the bathtub and started fresh.

Jenna was downstairs doing her magic. I never saw any of that, because I was on upstairs duty. Todd was working on the toilet clog that had caused Bacteria Splash 2019. We aren’t going to talk about that. Ever. No one has confessed. Some truths are better left buried. Deeply.

But, Shop-Vac, here’s where I want to get serious. Personal. Eye-to-eye. Here’s where you let me down.

Your CORD.

Your CORD. Please. What in the world? Your cord is less than 5 feet long. And unless you have an outlet on the floor, which 99% of the shop-vaccing word does not, you use 3 of the feet getting from the bathroom counter to the floor. That left me with about 20 inches of cord. At one point, I actually got trapped between your machine and my wall, by a cord that was literally shorter than some of my boot strings.

Is it 5 feet to keep from choking the babies? Babies don’t hang out where shop-vacs are stored and–news flash–5 feet of cord can still choke a baby. Maybe not a very, very obese baby, but come on, man. There’s no logic behind your short cord. And man, when my bathroom is raining sewage onto my dining room table, I need a longer cord.

After a very intense 90 minutes, I was leaning up against the kitchen counter to decompress when my 17-year-old son walked in to get a bowl of cereal. He pulled the milk out of the fridge and casually said,

“What was going on in here tonight?”

“Are you kidding? Just a massive flood from the upstairs bathroom down to the dining room. A fat lot of help you were!” I answered. I wasn’t really serious.

“Well, I’m sorry,” he said in a tone of indignant defense. “Nobody said a word to me.”

“Did you not hear Brady running through the house screaming for Daddy?” I asked.

“Someone goes running through the house—esPECially Brady–yelling a name that isn’t mine, followed by a whole bunch of commotion. How is that different from every other day? That happens daily around here,” Andrew argued. I paused and thought through his statement.

“Yeah, you’re right,” I conceded. And he was.

It stinks to be us sometimes.

In summation, Shop-vac, thanks for sucking (water) and longer cord, please. Maybe go crazy and do a retractable. Soon.

Carry on,


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