Man with toilet plunger

If you were to visit the universe where Odin is still sixteen and ask him what the chances were that he would one winter day when he is much older be standing on a street corner up the street from the Israeli embassy in Vienna with a toilet plunger in one hand and a baloney sandwich in the other, waiting for his three crow friends to show up, he would tell you, infitesimal.

And yet, here he stands.

Such is life.

He can see the crows a block away. They observe him cautiously through the falling snow.

Odin removes his hat, and the crows fly closer. Nothing like testing a theory empirically, thinks Odin, and tears the sandwich into equal pieces and tosses them to the birds.

Apparently, toilet plunger + hat + man triggers something in the threat center of the corvid brain, because the normally friendly crows don’t take the food until Odin walks away.

Odin needs to unclog a toilet later in the day. Hence the plunger. He went to a shop on his lunch break to buy it. Before that, he looked up the German word for the tool, only to discover there is no single German word.

Suction cup is Saugglocke.

But toilet plunger, they say one thing in one part of Germany, and another thing in another part, and probably something else in one part of Austria, and something different in another part, and the Viennese no doubt have their own expression. So on his way to the shop he tries to figure out the best way to say ‘suction cup on a stick for toilets’.

When he gets to the shop, a small, old, packed-to-the-rafters metal-and-household-goods shop, he is relieved to see he is the only customer. He says the most natural thing he can think of, I need one of those Saugglocke things to unclog a toilet.

Large or small? Says the woman running the store. She is lighting something with a long butane lighter.

Odin finds the toilet plunger display and removes a large one. Large, he says.

She asks him if he wants a bag, but he declines. He has been looking forward to walking through town with a naked toilet plunger.

In some situations, a toilet plunger is as good as a scepter.

No beggars accost him, and no one gets too close at the traffic lights.

No one crowds him at the bakery where he buys the sandwich.