Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Greek Plumbing

Last night (Monday), we had dinner next door at the Lillies with Fr. Seraphim Bell, from Walla Walla, WA. Small world! He and his family lived in Panorama 10 years ago. His daughter lived in our very apartment about 5 years ago. He comes back a couple times a year to visit the Holy Mountain and friends here in town.

Anyway, somehow we got to discussing the Greek plumbing system. This is BY FAR the strangest thing we've encountered over here: In Greece, you are not supposed to flush your toilet paper down the actual toilet. Instead, there is a special little waste basket next to every toilet.

We got to talking about this somehow, and both the Lillies and Fr. Seraphim told us that you COULD flush toilet paper. The Lillies have been doing it for 30-some years without incident, apparently. If you ask any Greek, however, they will tell you that doing so will clog up the sewer lines and then someone will have to go fix it. So this toilet paper thing is apparently some sort of cultural remnant from the past.

We were sort of wondering about the whole thing because if you walk into any American-type business establishment, such as Starbucks, Pizza Hut, McDonald's, etc -- they do not have the special little waste baskets and you can flush as much toilet paper as you want. But if you go NEXT DOOR to a Greek shop, there's a special little can.

Well, we are forever indebted to Fr. Seraphim for freeing us from these chains. We came home last night after dinner and immediately got rid of those cans! I told Philip about this today (he's lived here 4 years), and he was shocked. Now he's free, too. Maybe we'll start some sort of toilet paper revolution here.


RM said...

Modern BRT is designed to break down when coming in contact with water. It is known as "low wet strenght". HHT has "high wet strenght" Facial tissue has a more "medium wet strenght" so that you can blow your nose and still have the tissue stay together. This whole Greek thing is like an onion, the more layers you remove the more it stinks. (no pun intended). I would keep this new found freedom to yourself. You may end up with a mob all trying to be first in line to whack you!

Jessica said...

Yeah, you weren't supposed to flush toilet paper in China either.

Anonymous said...

A Greek coworker stated that toilet paper is a product manufactured in Greece and that Greek toilet paper is not manufactured to the same standards as elsewhere. Indeed everywhere I have tried to flush toilet paper it has been followed by plumbing problems or at best lots of TP snowflakes that just don't seem to go all the way down at the end. :-) You have to learn to smell the roses.

Anonymous said...

When in doubt ask. A Greek coworker stated that Greece does manufacture toilet paper but that it's not manufactured to breakdown on contact with water like elsewhere.
Lack of adherence to building construction rules has been mentioned frequently of late. I've experienced 4 plumbing incidents supposedly related to flushing TP. 1) in one building a resident from a lower floor sought me out because they twice had to pay expensive plumbing fees. It's possible but difficult to imagine that they randomly picked toilet paper as the culprit. 2) The same thing happened again as, disbeleiving my ears I continued to flush the stuff. 3) In the 1 year old bdg we moved into we flushed toilet paper for a few months until we had to pay a hefty fee for someone to come and fix it. 4) In the 1 year old bdg we had a problem after some guests visited. Only the guests used the toilet that day and the next morning there was water from the toilet all over to the kitchen - this also resulted in another hefty plumbing fee. There are Greeks who claim to flush their TP. Like with a lot of things the truth probably lies between the extremes of you-CAN-anytime-anywhere and you-CANT-anytime-anywhere but often enough in some places, and in such a way that the apartment that suffers from the problem and will pay the bill is not necessarily the same as the apartment that caused the problem. When moving around in Greece it would be very good to be considerate of any existing signs and when in doubt ask the owner. (Please remove previous post and this parenthesized comment. Thanks)