The dumbest thing

If I were to ask you, what’s the dumbest thing you’ve done so far today? I wouldn’t be looking for an action that was morally suspect, nor something that would have long-term bad consequences. I’d want to know the thing that brought the idea, “Well, that was dumb!” immediately to mind.

If you want to tell me the dumbest thing you did today, I’ll watch the comments. In the meantime, I’ll tell you the dumbest thing I did.

We’ve had quite a lot of chaos going on in the flat for a few days. We did a bedroom swap, which involved moving all the things out of two bedrooms, painting one of them, then beginning the process of arranging all the belongings into new final resting places.

Despite the fact that we’d done plenty of preparing and planning to try to make the process more efficient, I’ll modify Lysander’s line from Midsummer Night’s Dream, and say that the course of true moving never did run smooth. During this process, the mess wasn’t limited to just those rooms, but spilled out into the hall, a third bedroom, the living room, even halfway up the stairs.

One of the rooms that swapped all contents


The living room where things overflowed


Ninja’s bedroom, which got caught up in the chaos, too

I guess I’ve included the pictures primarily to make you feel better about your own surroundings, or to make you especially glad that you weren’t here while all this was happening.

Much of the mess was dealt with by this morning. That is to say, the living room had been reclaimed, and we had pulled most of the invading stuff from Ninja’s room. Our new bedroom was shaping up nicely, and the epicenter of the chaos had re-established itself in Loquita’s room, where it generally lives. (We have high hopes that this opportunity to sort through everything, coupled with new storage solutions, will at least give some shape to her curious collection.)

Since I couldn’t influence either the pace or the course of progress in Loquita’s room, I started looking for other tidying I could do, which is where I got into trouble. I did a really dumb thing.

Of course, I didn’t set out to do a dumb thing, but I also didn’t think things through.



Due to an idiosyncratic remodel several years ago, there’s a high window in our shower, but the view is something of a mystery. It opens into an unfinished space, and I’m not sure what’s on the other side of the two by fours. I haven’t gotten out a tape measure to try to figure out the details—I think the odd alcove in the end bedroom comes to about that spot, and I can hear the washing machine going, so it might be a space below the floor of the laundry room.

The point is that there’s a space of a few feet that doesn’t have anything in it, in contrast to the nearby storage room, which is getting progressively more full of things as we try to manage everyone’s possessions (scroll back to the chaos pictures for reference).

So I had this brainwave (cue whatever soundtrack should accompany the dumbest thing): We’ve got these big packages of toilet paper taking up space in the storage room because there’s no space under the bathroom sinks. I’ll bet a couple of them will fit in that space behind the shower window.

Having had this thought, I got a couple of six-packs of toilet paper, and stepped into the shower. I put one into the space, and then repositioned it to the left, so there would be room for a second, and perhaps a third. When I put the second package through the window, there was a whooshing sound as it disappeared.

It turns out, at no point during my exploration of the space in the wall next to the shower did I verify that there was a floor built below the edge of the window, and in fact there is none. My first package of toilet paper had rested on the sill, but the second package had made its way unimpeded down to whatever passes for a floor at the bottom of the cavity.



I have to say, the distance from the opening is unlikely to be more than seven or eight feet, but in the photo it looks like that poor six-pack is at the bottom of a mineshaft or something.

So there you have it: an indisputably dumb thing. That’s about $4 worth of toilet paper, now entirely inaccessible.* But the aftermath of the dumb thing was quite positive. Several of us got the benefit of some very creative brainstorming about tools we might employ in retrieval (what about using a fishing rod? How about those shock-corded tent poles? Do we have some tubing that we could run a cable through, and then….).

And then Ninja spent quite a bit of time in an engineering frame of mind, standing on a stool in the shower trying out various ideas, enjoying himself very much. I was reminded that before Christmas a group of us had gone to an escape room, a setting where you pay for the privilege of working together to solve puzzles, overcome obstacles, and use unlikely objects as tools to get weird things done. Our own little unintentional experiment was cheap at the price.

While I’m enjoying that thought, I haven’t entirely given up. Do you have any suggestions for me? How would you set about retrieving a package wrapped in plastic, resting at the bottom of a seven-foot shaft, where the tight angle limits the length of any implement you thread through the window? There’s no rush, as I’ve got a few other packages that we’ll be keeping in the storage room.



*In trying to store the TP in the bathroom, my intentions were good. I had been thinking of something Loquita said a few years back: “There are two kinds of people in the world: people who store extra toilet paper in the bathroom, and people I don’t understand.”


[Images:, yours truly x 4, Fiddler, El Guapo]

5 thoughts on “The dumbest thing

  1. 😂 Best “dumbest” thing ever! Last week I dumbly told my sister she could probably get a snow globe through airport security. Luckily the baggage claim office held it so I could make a return trip to Logan to retrieve it.

    • Inasmuch as we’ve found a few more ways that won’t work, I guess we can call that progress, though not success. But the project does give us a juicy problem to chew on. Who do we know that has a nice short harpoon? Or a remote controlled robot with a good grip?

  2. Pingback: The dumbest thing, part two | Lori Notes

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