Saturday, October 19, 2013

Legacy and the Women's Restroom - First in an occasional series on "Legacy"

Recently I brought my new Intern into the women’s restroom with me.  Even though she had not been with me for long, I immediately liked her and quickly grew to trust her.  So I decided that I would pass on to her something that not many at the Found know.  I showed her how to change the toilet paper roll.  I informed her that I could now rest knowing that if something were to happen to me, this vital information will not die with me.
            This makes me think about legacy.  In the 65 year history of the Baptist Student Foundation at Purdue I am the third Pastor/Director.  The first one built the building and the sanctuary is named for him.  The second one acquired more property and built a significant endowment fund and the kitchen and café area is named after him.  I have a funny feeling that it would be a tossup as to whether to name the boiler room or the women’s restroom after me.  
            Not long after I got to the Found I went into the restroom after Bible study.  It was after 10 pm.  I found that we had a new water feature that I was not aware had been added.  It’s not what you are thinking.  We had a waterfall coming down the inside wall opposite the stalls.  It was coming through the roof.  The roof is shaped in a V (the result of the drug culture of the early sixties impacting the architect community – but I digress).  That night the snow that had gathered in the bottom-of-the-V spot began to melt too quickly, as we had had an unusually warm day.  That was the beginning of a few years of trying to figure out the quick fixes to our roof problem, to avoid the excitement of going to the restroom in the rain.  Finally we got a new roof and for the most part have not had waterfalls in the bathroom or elsewhere. 
I didn’t know what a boiler room was until I got to the Found.  I was from L.A. and had never met a boiler (at least not knowingly).  My predecessor taught me how to turn it on in the late fall when the temperature stopped going up into the 60’s each day, and how to turn it off in the spring when it seemed like the temperature was done dipping down to near freezing.  It was a matter of flipping two switches on a box on the wall just within my reach.  I developed a kind of liturgy for turning on the boiler for the year.  I would make the determination that it was time to turn on the boiler, usually after noticing that people were keeping their coats on during worship on Sunday morning.  I would pray as I walked down the stair to the boiler room and turned on the light.  I would look at the nearly 60-year-old machine with respect and fear.  I would read the directions on the switch box, a couple of times, just in case there was new information added since the last time that I had engaged in the ritual.  Finally, I would take a deep breath and hold it, stand in the doorway and reach over and flip the two switches in their proper order.  Then I would quickly move out of the door and behind the wall listening for the whoosh of the pilot lighting and turning on the boiler, praying, of course, that it would not blow up the building.  Turning the boiler off in the spring was not as traumatic.  Then it was a matter of deciding that the weather was not going to turn cold again at some point in late April.

            A few years ago the boiler started going out.  We would get it started again, but it became clear that we needed a new one.  So we gathered the troops and, due to the generosity of many people we gathered enough money to buy a car or two and put it toward the big, ugly, messy, expensive job of replacing the old “Darth Boiler.”
So as I think about legacy, well, what will people remember of the “Zambrows Years” at the Found?  I guess if you really think about it, as unglamorous as these rooms are they are really important.  On a 10 degree day you want the boiler to be working.  And, well, no matter the temperature, you always want a functioning women’s (and men’s) restroom. 
And, though there is a lot more to say about legacy, at least for now I can rest easy knowing that there is at least one other person who knows how to change the toilet paper roll.


  1. If N and I die in our home and our legacy is to be named on our property, it is going to be the septic system. What does that say about us?

    Those toilet paper rolls really are mysteries, though.


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