Toilet talk

I promised a riveting post on bathroom culture for today after experiencing a public potty at midnight last night.

Not one to break a promise, I’m going to let you know I’m a connoisseur of public bathrooms worldwide. So when I tell you there is definitely a bathroom etiquette you can rest assured, I know what I’m talking about.

Americans are very high on hand washing and personal hygiene. Italians, though we’d like to believe they are sanitary people, do not have the same standards. In addition to pinching the bum of anyone they think is attractive and kissing all over the face, Italian public potties are holes in the ground with stainless steel and grooved foot grips on either side of said hole. The hand washing stations in Rome are hoses coming out of thousand year old stone walls with water rumbling through Roman-built aqueducts. I guess that’s what you can expect from people who stomp tomatoes with their bare feet and have historically been ok with lathering themselves up with oil and grappling one another in public.

My toilet experience in Japan was very different. The Japanese tend to be rather modest about bathroom business, so much so they have touchpad musak choices available to play just in case an errant abdominal expulsion makes noise. They also have squirt sprays to use as a replacement for toilet paper. Their hand washing facilities are extensive, calming and beautiful. I really feel the Japanese are clean people.

Tunisia was a dirt hole with no hand washing. I was scarred by my Tunisian potty experience. There were flies. It was hot. Oh, I may need to take a shower, just reliving it.

In Paris there is a spectrum, you either have a toilet attendant who stands at the door distributing toilet paper, hand towels and soap and expects a tip or a stall in the park that looks like a telephone booth with no windows and requires a certain amount of pocket change to unlock and open the door, like a vending machine for people.

All this to say, there are certain moires of bathrooms depending on your region and in the US, hand washing is a public necessity.

I don’t know that everyone washes their hands every time at home, but I can pretty much guarantee the most hardcore hand washing avoider will wash their hands in WalMart.

We are currently in another 17 hour journey cross country so we can pack our house up for the move. in addition to touring the toilet facilities at every truck stop on I-40 we’ve been people watching and enjoying exposure to regional differences.

And, in case anyone was worried, we have jobs lined up and a place to live! It’s always comforting to see how God orchestrates the needs in our lives so we are ready for changes and adventures at the perfect time. Us, we’re going to spend some time as junk dealers living in a trailer across from the mall. I’m terribly excited about the stories that will surface over the next few months!

I’m pretty sure this post was a waste of quality time, but, hey, maybe it’s inspired you to visit your own international toilets… That would be worth it!

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5 thoughts on “Toilet talk

  • May 22, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    What is that, a toilet shrine??

    • May 22, 2011 at 11:32 pm

      Apparently there’s something called international toilet day. The photo was taken in its honor. I don’t know, it just made me happy because it was colorful and bizarre! 🙂

  • May 22, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    Once in China, our guide promised that she was taking us to a five-star toilet.

    This I couldn’t wait to see. But it turned out to be a squatty-potty where toilet paper cost extra.

    You are a gifted writer among other things and I will be eager to read about where God is taking you next. Blessings to your family and your mom!

    • May 22, 2011 at 11:40 pm

      I forgot the lovely phrase “squatty potty”! I should totally edit that in.

      Thank you for your comment. 🙂

      Remember when we went to England together and had such amazement of how tiny the bathroom was and joked we could squirt the walls of the bathroom with soap and spin around for a thorough washing? 😉

  • May 23, 2011 at 12:18 am

    I always worried about getting stuck in one of those Paris public toilets when it goes through its wash cycle!


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