The Unsinkable Stool

Adrian Padina
3 min readJun 25, 2019

Hotel Toilet Horror

Photo by Marc Schaefer on Unsplash

I am still often amazed at what guests complain about in hotels. Don’t get me wrong, it certainly is a guest’s prerogative to voice his or her opinion, to advise when something is broken and to denounce when things aren’t right, be it something physical or a lack of service.

But there are limits of decorum that some people exceed and here is a perfectly surreal example of what I mean. This happened to me in London, UK when I was on duty in a busy, city-centre hotel. I got a call to go and attend to an angry client…

Two knocks on the door of 525 and seconds later it was opened by a large American. Mr Cayenne was grey haired, mid-50’s and sported the hotel dressing gown which was evidently too short for him as the bottom came to well above his knees.

“Good morning Mr Cayenne, Adrian Padina, Duty Manager. I believe you have a complaint regarding our maintenance department?”

“Sure do”, replied Mr Cayenne, “come here”, and curtly beckoned me in with his hand.

After nodding courteously to a strangely embarrassed-looking Mrs Cayenne sat on the edge of the bed, I found myself in the bathroom. Mr Cayenne proceeded to open the lid of the toilet and pointed inside: “Damn thing won’t go down!”

I looked in, dreading to think what could be there, and found myself staring at a floating stool.

“Look at this”, bellowed Mr Cayenne, and promptly flushed the toilet. Water gurgled out, strangling the stool and sending it spinning. For a moment it seemed to go under, but suddenly, just as the flush of water ebbed, it stubbornly bobbed up again.

“Your maintenance man said he couldn’t do nothing, said it would eventually just go”.

“I see Sir”, I replied in a very phlegmatic English way, “do you mind if I have a try?”

“Go ahead, but it ain’t budging I’m telling ya”.

Mr Cayenne and I waited whilst the cistern filled. There we stood, with a floating stool between us. How to make small-talk in such a situation? I contemplated asking him if he had tried the local brew, as real ale or Guinness in excess tends to have an effect on one’s faeces, but I settled for the standard ‘are you enjoying your stay’ line. After a nod and a “Sure, until now” response, I decided it was best to just sit it out.

After the standard eternity it takes to fill a cistern whilst watching, I muttered an “allow me”, and gave a good tug on the handle. Once again the stool began its merry dance and spin amid the gurgling and flush of water, diving under as before, but this time staying under and vanishing out of sight around the u-bend.

Mr Cayenne just stared down the toilet before looking up at me. “How did you do that?”

It’s all in the wrist, I thought. “Will there be anything else, Sir?”

To this day I still wonder if the culprit of the unsinkable stool was Mr Cayenne or his embarrassed-looking wife.

Adrian Padina

Master hotelier who writes and photographs. Take a peek inside my world.