Thursday, September 29, 2005

9/29/05

7:11 a.m. I am on surveillance in military housing today so I've got a lot of suspicious sailors and marines watching me. Which isn't such a bad thing. (There are worse things than being glared at by big, strapping men in uniform.)

I just wish I didn't look like death warmed over. I've got my smart girl glasses on and a ME Investigator polo shirt with my dark blue pajama bottoms. I sure hope I don't have to go under cover today because I took all of my disguises out to be washed after an unfortunate ice cream bucket accident. (Don't ask...you don't want to know.)

Yesterday afternoon I realized that toilets hate me. It seems I have an inordinant number of bathroom incidents to report to you people. Last week when I was at Mom and Dad's for the reunion the toilet backed up and overflowed while I was in there. It was...bad.

In a panic, I plunged my whole arm in the toilet to see if I could dislodge the blockage. Which is truly disgusting, but, like I said, I was panicking. When that didn't work, I stuck my head out the bathroom door and yelled to my sisters and cousin who were chatting around the kitchen table, "I need a plunger! Now!" My oldest sister, June, jumped up with a smirk on her face and said, "Ey Ey, Captain! I'm on it!" She suluted me and then ran off down the hall while I struggled to turn off the water supply.

Pretty quick I hear June running back, "I've got it! Here! I'm passing the batton!" She did her best Chariots of Fire impression and handed me the plunger. (I am not the only smarta$$ in my family.)

So, I ran back into the bathroom and unclogged the toilet before Dad got back from playing golf and lined all 38 of us up for a stearn lecture on using only four squares of toilet paper. Back when we were kids we got that lecture a lot. June once made the mistake of asking, "What if four squares just isn't enough?" Dad gave her "the look" and said, "It better damn well be enough." Okay, then. Four squares. Plenty.

So, then yesterday the handle on my toilet at home stopped working. I had to take the lid off and see what happened. Sure enough, the little arm thingy inside had snapped in half. I reached in to pick it out of the bottom of the tank and accidentally snagged the hose on my watch...which sent a four foot water spout spraying up from the tank and directly into my face.

Stupid toilets.

In other news, I managed to murder two more plants. A friend of mine was actually foolish enough to give me an orchid. An orchid! The most tempramental of all plants. It took me a record two days to defoliate it, leaving a sad, bare stalk that would put Charlie Brown's Cristmas tree to shame.

Just call me Agent Orange.

43 comments:

Tamara said...

O...k...

*backing away slowly...*

*smiling and nodding*

*hiding all the toilet paper*

*and toilets*

*and buckets*

JohnD said...

I apoligize for laughing at your toilent plits. I have never considered sticking my hand/arm in. I prefer mopping up after employing the plunger.

JohnD said...

T
Why are taking away all her toys.

Polly P.I. said...

John,

As anybody who's been around here for a while will tell you, I tend to do things and then think about them LATER. Usually it works for me. Sometimes it really, really doesn't.

Sticking my arm in the toilet up to my elbow probably wasn't up there among my most brilliant ideas.

Anonymous said...

Cousin Molley here, there are some serious adventures that I missed. You poor thing, any unusual fungus popped up? Better still, lessons in the bathroom on how much TP NOT to use, seems we have that problem at our house, could it be genetic?

Bill said...

Big strapping men in uniform are OK, but ask Jackie Meyerson about Navy SEALS.

Olga said...

4 squares
I'll remember that one. My nephew was over and used at least half the roll on one job. A few minutes after he left the bathroom, I heard something that sounded suspiciously like running water hitting the floor. I went into the bathroom, and the toilet was overflowing and the floor was flooded. I waded through the water, stopped the flow and used all the towels upstairs. I went to the downstairs bathroom to get more towels. As I ran into the bathroom, I got rained on. Water was pouring from the ceiling into both the bathroom and the laundry room! I used up the rest of the towels on the upstairs bathroom. Good thing I hadn't done laundry in a while. I also used the dirty clothes to mop up the floor, walls, and ceiling downstairs.

Nephew + toilet = 4 squares of TP

Tamara said...

Anybody ever heard of flushing half-way?

Why am I offering toileting advice? WHY? WHY????

*borrows Fed's Inviso-shield®*

Nancy said...

That is DIS-GUST-ING! IT says a lot about you, though, that you'd be willing to stick your hand in the toilet to dislodge the problem. You are the woman!

Mike Weasel said...

4 squares? I use more than that per wipe. I like to have a nice padded wad between my hand and any fecal material (which WBAGrossNFARB).

And you can't say "unfortunate ice cream bucket accident" and expect us NOT to ask.

MOTW said...

One word - Champion

Bought one this Spring, which Mr. MOTW installed in due season (har). We have a Kohler in the other bathroom. Have to plunge Kohler on a regular (har) basis. Have not had to plunge Champion ONCE. Anyone who has to take a dump the size of Erath County uses the Champion.

Y'all should take up a collection (har) and buy a Champion for your dad. Put a big red bow on it for an early Christmas present.

motw said...

one more thing - you could give him a case of t.p. along with the new toidy.
*moving along now* ... (har)

Tamara said...

How about a portable bidet with digital camera? Stylish, attractive, and handy!

Ren U Guttago said...

RNow, I know that there is a lot of embellishment that occurs on this group and I am aware that a small number of things are perhaps sheer fabrication, but I have a story to tell that is the absolute truth. Funniest damn thing that has ever happened to me.

A couple of weeks ago we decided to cruise out to Ryan's Steakhouse for dinner. It was a Wednesday night which means that macaroni and beef was on the hot bar, indeed the only night of the week that it is served. Wednesday night is also kid's night at Ryan's, complete with Dizzy the Clown wandering from table to table entertaining the little bastards. It may seem that the events about to be told have little connection to those two circumstances, but all will be clear in a moment.

We went through the line and placed our orders for the all-you-can-eat hot bar then sat down as far away from the front of the restaurant as possible in order to keep the density of kids down a bit. Then I started my move to the hot bar.

Plate after plate of macaroni and beef were consumed that evening, I tell you-in all, four heaping plates of the pseudo-Italian ambrosia were shoved into my belly. I was sated.

Perhaps a bit too much, however.

I had not really been feeling well all day, what with a bit of gas and such. By the time I had eaten four overwhelmed plates of food, I was in real trouble.

There was so much pressure on my diaphragm that I was having trouble breathing. At the same time, the downward pressure was building. At first, I thought it was only gas which could have been passed in batches right at the table without to much concern.

Unfortunately, that was not to be.

After a minute or so it was clear that I was dealing with explosive diarrhea. It's amazing how grease can make its way through your intestines far faster than the food which spawned the grease to begin with, but I digress...

I got up from the table and made my way to the bathroom. Upon entering, I saw two sinks immediately inside the door, two urinals just to the right of the sinks, and two toilet stalls against the back wall. One of them was a handicapped bathroom. Now, normally I would have gone to the handicapped stall since I like to stretch out a bit when I take a good shit, but in this case, the door lock was broken and the only thing I hate worse than my wife telling me to stop cutting my toenails with a pair of diagonal wirecutters is having someone walk in on me while I am taking a shit. I went to the normal stall.

In retrospect, I probably should have gone to the large, handicapped stall even though the door would not lock because that bit of time lost in making the stall switch proved to be a bit too long under the circumstances. By the time I had walked into the regular stall, the pressure on my ass was reaching Biblical proportions.

I began "The Move."

For those women who may be reading this, let me take a moment to explain "The Move." Men know exactly what their bowels are up to at any given second. And when the time comes to empty the cache, a sequence of physiological events occur that can not be stopped under any circumstances.

There is a move men make that involves simultaneously approaching the toilet, beginning the body turn to position ones ass toward said toilet, hooking ones fingers into ones waistline, and pulling down the pants while beginning the squat at the same time. It is a very fluid motion that, when performed properly, results in the flawless expulsion of shit at the exact same second that ones ass is properly placed on the toilet seat.

Done properly, it even assures that the choad is properly inserted into the front rim of the toilet in the event that the piss stream lets loose at the same time; it is truly a picture of coordination rivaling that of a skilled ballet dancer.

I was about half-way into "The Move" when I looked down at the floor and saw a pile of vomit that had been previously expelled by one of those little bastards attending kids night; it was mounded up in the corner so I did not notice it when I had first walked into the stall.

Normally, I would not have been bothered by such a thing, but I had eaten so much and the pressure upward was so intense, that I hit a rarely experienced gag reflex.

And once that reflex started, combined with the intense pressure upward caused by the bloated stomach, four plates of macaroni and beef started coming up for a rematch.

What happened next was so quick that the exact sequenceof events are a bit fuzzy, but I will try to reconstruct them as best I can.

In that moment of impending projectile vomiting, my attention was diverted from the goings-on at the other end. To put a freeze frame on the situation, I was half crouched down to the toilet, pants pulled down to my knees, with a load of vomit coming up my esophagus.

Now, most of you know that vomiting takes precedence over shit no matter what is about to come slamming out of your ass. It is apparently an evolutionary thing since shitting will not kill you, but vomiting takes a presence of mind to accomplish so that you do not aspirate any food into the bronchial tubes and perhaps choke to death.

My attention was thus diverted.

At that very split second, my ass exploded in what can only be described as a wake...you know, as in a newspaper headline along the lines of "30,000 Killed In Wake of Typhoon Fifi" or something similar.

In what seemed to be most suitably measured in cubic feet, an enormous plug of shit the consistency of thick mud with embedded pockets of greasy liquid came flying out of my ass. But remember, I was only half-way down on the toilet at that moment. The shit wave was of such force and of just such an angle in relation to the back curve of the toilet seat that it ricocheted off the back of the seat and slammed into the wall at an angle of incidence equal to the angle at which it initially hit the toilet seat. Then I sat down.

Recall that when that event occurred, I was already half-way to sitting anyway and had actually reached the point of no return. I have always considered myself as relatively stable gravitationally, but when you get beyond a certain point, you're going down no matter how limber you may be.

Needless to say, the shit wave, though of considerable force, was not so sufficient so as to completely glance off the toilet seat and deposit itself on the walls, unlike what you would see when hitting a puddle with a high-pressure water hose; even though you throw water at the puddle, the puddle gets moved and no water is left to re-form a puddle. There was a significant amount of shit remaining on about one-third of the seat rim which I had now just collapsed upon.

Now, back to the vomit...

While all the shitting was going on, the vomit was still on its way up. By the time I had actually collapsed on the toilet, my mouth had filled up with a goodly portion of the macaroni and beef I had just consumed.

OK, so what does the human body instinctively do when vomiting?

One bends over.

So I bent over.

I was still sitting on the toilet, though.

Therefore, bending over resulted in me placing my head above my now slightly-opened legs, positioned in between my knees and waist. Also directly above my pants which were now pulled down to a point just midway between my knees and my ankles.

Oh, did I mention that I was wearing not just pants, but sweat pants with elastic on the ankles.

In one mighty push, some three pounds of macaroni and beef, two or three Cokes, and a couple of Big, Fat Yeast Rolls were deposited in my pants...on the inside...with no ready exit at the bottom down by my feet.

In the next several seconds, there were a handful of farts, a couple of turds, and the event ended, yet I was now sitting there with my pants full of vomit, my back covered in shit that had bounced off the toilet, spattered on three ceramic-tiled walls to a height of about five feet, and still had enough force to come back at me, covering the back of my shirt with droplets of liquid shit. All while thick shit was spread all over my ass in a ring curiously in the shape of a toilet seat.

And there was no fucking toilet paper.

What could I do but laugh. I must have sounded like a complete maniac to the guy who then wandered into the bathroom. He actually asked if I was OK since I was laughing so hard I must have sounded like I was crying hysterically.

I calmed down just enough to ask him if he would get the manager. And told him to have the manager bring some toilet paper. When the manager walked in, he brought the toilet paper with him, but in no way was prepared for what happened next.

I simply told him that there was no way I was going to explain what was happening in the stall, but that I needed several wet towels and I needed him to go ask my wife to come help me. I told him where we were sitting and he left. At that point, I think he was probably assuming that I had pissed just a bit in my pants or something similarly benign.

About two minutes later, my wife came into the bathroom not knowing what was wrong and with a certain amount of worry in her voice. I explained to her (still laughing and having trouble getting out words) that I had a slight accident and needed her help.

Knowing that I had experienced some close calls in the past, she probably assumed that I had laid down a small turd or something and just needed to bring the car around so we could bolt immediately.

Until I asked her, I'm sure she had no idea that she was about to go across the street and purchase me new underwear, new socks, new pants, a new shirt, and (by that time due to considerable leakage around the elastic ankles thingies) new sneakers. And she then started to laugh herself since I was still laughing. She began to ask for an explanation as to what had happened when I promised her that I would tell her later, but that I just needed to handle damage control for the time being. She left.

The manager then came back in with a half-dozen wet towels and a few dry ones. I asked him to also bring a mop and bucket upon which he assured me that they would clean up anything that needed to be cleaned.

Without giving him specific details, I explained that what was going on in that stall that night was far in excess of what I would expect anyone to deal with, what with most of the folks working at Ryan's making minimum wage of just slightly above. At that moment, I think it dawned on him exactly the gravity of the situation.

Then that manager went so far above the call of duty that I will be eternally grateful for his actions.

He hooked up a hose.

Fortunately, commercial bathrooms are constructed with tile walls and tile floors and have a drain in the middle of the room in order to make clean up easy. Fortunately, I was in a commercial bathroom. He hooked up the hose to the spigot located under the sink as I began cleaning myself up with the wet towels.

Just as I was finishing, my wife got back with the new clothes and passed them into the stall, whereupon I stuffed the previously worn clothing into the plastic bag that came from the store, handing the bag to my wife.

I finished cleaning myself off and carefully put on my new clothes, still stuck in the stall since I figured that it would be in bad taste to go out of the stall to get redressed in the event I happened to be standing there naked and some little bastard kid walked in. At that point, I had only made a mess; I had not yet committed a felony and intended to keep it that way.

When I finished getting dressed, I picked up the hose and cleaned up the entire stall, washing down the remains toward the drain in the center of the room. I put down the hose and walked out of the bathroom.

I had intended to go to the manager and thank him for all he had done, but when I walked out, three of the management staff were there to greet me with a standing ovation. I started laughing so hard that I thought I was going to throw up again, but managed to scurry out to the car where my wife was now waiting to pick me up by the front door.

The upshot of all this is that I strongly recommend eating dinner at Ryan's Steak House. They have, by far, the nicest management staff of any restaurant in which I have eaten.

motw said...

And about that "death warmed over" bit - I don't believe that for a minute. You are one of those few who are blessed with good looks no matter what. I had a friend in college like that. Blonde-hair, blue-eyed little spitfire - showed up for a comprehensive exam in grey sweats, no makeup, with the beginnings of flu, 'cuz there were no make-ups allowed for missed exam. She STILL looked gorgeous. You're like that, Polly, make no mistake.
*not begrudging that you can pull it off*

Eleanor said...

I recently found out from my now grown-up children that when they were about 10 and 11 my (now) ex-huband told them they could only use 2! squares!!!

Until today I've never hear that other people actually have "square quotas" ! Too funny!

Polly P.I. said...

Ren,
LOL, man!!!! Barfing Into Your Pants WBAGNFARB!!!!

Too funny!

Rhen said...

St. Petersburg , Russia
On a recent mission trip to Russia , I was reminded of just how happy I am to be an American, much of the joy revolving around our public and FREE public toilets. We were doing some ministry with some street kids, who actually are quite frequent in St. Pete, and a few of us had to go. Our host told us that there were some bathrooms at the entrance of the area where we were, and that we may have to pay to use them. We approached the place, and it looked like a wooden old "" West Virginia style"" mobile home had been raised up on stilts. We looked at each other, steeled ourselves, and went in. There was, indeed, a little window area where you were supposed to pay to use the bathroom, (3 rubles, about 10 cents at the time) but I couldn't see anyone there. Turns out a small child was there, and yelling at me in Russian. When I walked in, there was a line of wooden stalls, in a dimly lit area, rather like something that Steven King would dream up. The small basket on the floor for the toilet paper had some in it, and it was terribly bloody. I really didn't want to think about why, and certainly realized that I could ""hold it"" so as not to have to sit on the filthy toilet. I did stand, and finished what I had to do, and thanked God as I flushed my paper when I returned home "

Ukraine
I was visiting my son when he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine . There are several bathroom stories to tell but the most horrible experience for me was the day we went to Truskavetc. This is a holiday/spa town in the hills in the eastern area of Ukraine . It was explained to me that this is the place that everyone likes to come to for a healthy vacation and it is considered a luxury resort town. They are known for their healing waters. So of course I drank the water. After a while I found the need to seek the ladies room. My son's Ukrainian girlfriend (who did not speak English at all) led me to the public toilets. They seemed to be built into the side of a hill and it was necessary to go down a staircase to get to them. When we got there an old woman with only a few teeth was waiting to take our money to use the facility. I have no idea what the cost was because the girlfriend paid. But anyway I was led into this dark cavern with stalls. The smell was overwhelming. I opened a door to a stall expecting to see a toilet but was greeted with a filthy hole in the ground. As I shut the door behind me for privacy I realized that I was in the pitch dark and I had no idea where the hole actually was. So, I hiked up my skirt and tried to squat over the hole, hoping I was hitting the mark. When I emerged from the stall the old toothless woman began yelling at me in Ukrainian and proceeded to spray a hose at my feet and into the stall. Apparently I had missed the hole! I could not get out of there fast enough. This is apparently the Soviet idea of a vacation paradise.

Hungary
There was one time when I went to Hungary & I really needed to go. But it cost 50 forint to use the bathroom. I thought ‘alright it will probably be cleaner then free bathrooms. So I paid. When I went in the bathroom it was so dirty.
Brooms and mops when just lying around and the floor was almost black (the original color of it is white) and the employee who you paid was like a bum who probably did not take a shower in like a month. Also even though I paid 50 forint she kept on saying in Hungarian "don’t use that much water".

Athens Airport
I admit it was partly my fault -- I knew we would not have much to eat the day we left our cruise ship, so I stoked up on a wonderful, filling, American-style breakfast: eggs, pancakes and lots of bacon. Bad decision.
By the time we had transferred (as they say) to the Athens airport, by tummy was rumbling. After a quick check-in -- security is not the tightest in Athens -- it was not exactly a run, but was a brisk walk to the "Men's."
No partitions. Hum. Lots of people in and out, but what choice do you have? When in Athens , do as the Athenians do, I guess. Hardly conducive to explosive problems, but, after all . . .
I reached back to flush. I looked for the flusher. I pivoted and looked harder. This baby does not flush. It seems to be self-cleaning -- a trickle of water into the bowl. At the rate the water is trickling and the rate my digestive system is operating, this bowl will be clean about the same time my flight is due to land in New York .
Since things are calming down, my main goal was to get out of the place, find my wife and get the lomotil as soon as possible. They *did* have toilet paper -- and a sign which said to deposit the used paper in a basket beside the facility. Gross.
It took four lomotil and three more trips to this non-loo before things settled down. My advice, never eat less than 24 hours before flying out of Athens

Italy Rest Stop
I was driving with my Aunt and Uncle through Italy when we decided to stop at a busy roadside rest stop. The restroom was very nice with about 8 private stalls and a row of sinks across from them. I finished my task and when I tried to exit the stall I realized that I couldn't open the door.
I was locked in! I pushed and jiggled the button on the latch every way I could think of for what seemed like an eternity and couldn't unlock it. There wasn't enough open space at the bottom of the door to crawl out even if I did want to get down on the damp floor.
By this time panic had begun to set in and I started calling out "Hello, Can anyone help me?" while knocking on the door loudly. I could hear several people busily flushing, washing, and talking, but not one person came to my aid.
Puzzled, I persisted, and then finally realized that I was speaking English and apparently no one streaming in and out of the restroom knew what I was saying! Helpless and frustrated, I realized that the only Italian I knew were the words for "thank-you", "please," and "yes."
Finally my Aunt decided to come looking for me, when at that exact moment I pulled and lifted the door button in precisely the right combination to open it. She whisked me away in my embarrassment and hurriedly packed me into the car and we sped off laughing, leaving a lot of perplexed people wondering what that crazy woman was knocking and yelling about. Moral of the story: add the words "help open door" to your travel vocabulary!

Culture Reflected in Irish Restrooms
Traveling in Ireland was quite an experience, especially when using public restrooms. The urinals were not so much individual urinals as much as an entire wall with drains at the floor. The heavy drinking, be it alchoholic or not, of the society is seen in this common sense method of dealing with mass amounts of excreted liquids.
On a side note, every bathroom also had condom dispensers, selling them in the same machine as candy and toothpaste. I thought this was honest considering America's method of sticking them in the back corner of CVS.

Republic of Georgia
The worst toilets I've encountered were in the Republic of Georgia. A magnificent country full of the most wonderful, fun people, grand architecture, beautiful music and outstanding food---BUT...the toilets were abysmal. The stench makes one vomatose. (Tbilisi; Kutaisi; Goordjahni)
My question for you and the reason for my writing:
Has any device been invented for travelers to use when using these vile facilities that is capable of quelling the stench? Please do not say for one to put perfume on the wrist or such as that. NOTHING works. Surely with all the people traveling, someone would have invented something to fix this problem. Or perhaps you could throw it out to the world at large as a challenge!

Turkey, 1976
Some friends and I got snowed-in and were rescued by a wonderful family who insisted we take refuge in their house. Their 'bathroom' was a rickety box on the second story jutting out from the building. It had a concrete floor sloping down to a large central hole. The idea was to 'evacuate' over the hole, underneath which was an enormous pile of frozen sh*t which, I was told, was used as manure when it thawed in the spring.
Muslim families traditionally remove their shoes at the front door. Outside the bathroom door, there were huge boat like shoes to slip on before entering. After closing the door behind me, I rolled down my jeans and tried to straddle the hole. Unfortunately, the efforts of previous occupants had made the floor into a skating rink, so I quickly found my ill-clad feet sliding towards the hole and, there being nothing solid to grab on to, whooshed down, dangling half in and half out of the diabolical contraption.
To this day I feel the shame of knowing that the entire village was treated to the sight of my bare bottom and legs swinging around wildly in an effort to hoist myself back up the hole, while trying desperately not to slip through and land on the mound of indescribable filth beneath me. Since then, every other type of third world toilet has been a cinch.

Italy by Train
Three of us were travelling by train on a overnight through Europe with a final destination at Pisa. Well, I must have had "irritable bowel syndrome" and needed in a very bad way to go to the bathroom. Lo and behold, we were warned not to go on the train (especially when it is at a stop) because anything that goes through the toilet is just dropped either directly onto the tracks or sometimes can cling to the "pipes." This apparently would create a rather malodorous situation. We arrived around midnight at the station in Milan. I thought I was in luck, but they were cleaning both the bathrooms! I was therefore resolved to stick it out all the way to Pisa. At that point I was already just about poking daylight!
Upon our arrival in Pisa, I was more concerned about finding facilities then about seeing the Leaning Tower! We found a small cafe/restaurant (the only one around) in which we could eat and I could use the WC. I was shocked to enter the "bathroom" as it was just a plain old hole in the ground in a drab room! At that time, however, it was the best looking sight I had seen for quite some time.

Spain
This is a wonderful website, since I suffer from some gastrointestinal problems, finding bathrooms that are user friendly has been a challenge for me over the years. I will share one story with you that happened in the early 80's in Madrid, Spain, a wonderful beautiful country that I was lucky to visit with my husband who at the time was working for the State Department.
We were out for a night on the town, with another couple and Madrid has many wonderful places to stop and get a drink of the local wine and tapa's. Myself and the other gal that I was with needed to go to the bathroom, they did have ladies and men's rooms.
So, we went together and it was a normal toilet by American standards (no pun intended), except the tank was mounted on the wall above the toilet seat, the handle to flush the toilet was hanging from the tank by a plastic cord with a knob of sorts. We preceded to finish and as I pulled to flush, the whole cord and handle came off in my hand.
We just looked at it in my hand, started to laugh so hard, that when our husbands came looking for us, they heard us laughing and opened the door and saw what had happened and took a picture and it is a great one. I kept that cord and handle for years and when my husband would tell the story and show people the picture he would also show my keepsake from a wonderful slightly drunk evening in Madrid. Keep the stories coming they are great.






Paris Sidewalk
In 1973 we visited Paris with our 14 and 16 year old daughters. Sidewalk urinals were still in use. The side panels were approximately 7' high with a 2' opening at the bottom. The urinals were on the outside walls. While my spouse and the girls were looking at the sights I entered and attended to business. The following conversation ensued: "Where is Dad?" "He is in that strange building." "How do you know?" "I see his shoes."
I was disappointed to find that on my next visit in 1979 these unusual facilties had been removed.

Russia - Cruising on the Volga River
Many years ago I was fortunate/unfortunate enough to take a cruise on the ' Volga ' for a week.
Along side the toilets on the boat there were wicker baskets. I thought they were for people to keep the room tidy by putting chocolate wrappers and cotton buds in.
As the days passed I noticed the baskets getting fuller and wondered when the cleaners would empty them.
As more days passed I realized the baskets were for putting used toilet paper in and the smell alerted me to this fact.
Not being aware of this I and had been putting all my paper in the toilet and flushing as my mother had taught me.
After about 6 days a barge pulled up alongside the cruise boat and hoses attached to the barge whereby all the sewerage was pumped over. A lovely little family of Mum, Dad and very small children lived on this barge. It would appear that if paper was flushed into the tanks it may clog up the works.

Praha , Czech Republic
If you have ever been to Praha, maybe you have also seen the bathroom at the main station. It's ok, its clean and quite big. And, as often, there's sitting a toilet-man or -woman before it and takes the money for using the urgently needed place. At the very bathroom, the toilet-man sat behind a table like a business-man, in front of him, the toilet paper was accurately sorted on the table, always two pieces for one user.
The advantage for the cleaner: everybody had to pay before using the toilet, and nobody could take too much paper.

Austrian Adventure
After spending four months in Vienna , Austria , I learned to appreciate the different bathroom (WC) culture. At least for Austria, the way the system usually works in public places is that (for guys of course) if you have to answer nature’s call, you walk into the bathroom past a side room and either veer right to the urinals or left to the separate toilet compartments. If you do veer left, you usually have to pay.
The most uncomfortable part about the whole system is that the old Austrian ladies who hang out in the side room, which has a wonderful view of the urinals, have no shame. The sound of water on water or the fact that members of the opposite sex are relieving themselves has no bearing on their decision to walk freely throughout the bathroom.
The urinals in Austria do not have the typical urinal cake to deter stench. Instead, they place real sliced lemons in there perhaps to enhance the illusion of homemade lemonade.
The Austrians do deserve Kudos on the urinal splashguard. This ingenious invention just makes life a little better.

Bulgaria
We were on holiday in Bulgaria in 1994, and decided to go walking in the Thrace Mountains . The nearest railway station was Slevin. After a very memorable walk, (which we won't discuss. I had to go to the loo at the station. At the door entry there was an old local woman, who looked about 80, but was probably 75 selling drinks for a small amount of Lev (the Bulgarian currency).
I didn’t purchase the drink, instead I went through the door and entered a nightmare worse then Dante or Edgar Allan Poe could have dreamt about. On the other side of the door it was pitch black, I searched for the light switch, but to no avail. I carried on walking groping my way to the toilet.
The distance from the door to the toilet seemed like an eternity, it was about 25 yards in reality. As there was no light, I had to walk slowly down the corridor and all the while there was the pungent smell of stale urine and feces. By the time I reached the toilets I was simultaneously holding my breath, while attempting to breathe through my nose and piss at the same time. Trying to all three at the same is hard, it is even harder when you are trying not to puke up your stomach contents.
I had never left a toilet so quickly wanting this errand to end asap. Even today it still makes me want to vomit.

Spain
Three of us women just returned April 30 2002 from a delightful, but a bit exhausting, trip to Spain . We drove and hiked all over southern Iberia -- Madrid , Toledo , and points south in Andalusia . Everywhere we went -- a Plaza de Major terrace eatery in Madrid , a damascene jewelry shop in Toledo , the heavily tourist trafficked Alhambra in Granada , or a service station off national highway N-IV -- the bathrooms were well stocked and well tended. And, yes, we discovered a variety of plumbing systems; luckily no holes to squat over. The place is a boon to middle-aged bladders!

Italy
Enjoyed the article recently in USA Today. Would like to add to the experience in Austria. The same happened to us in Italy. At every "pit stop" on our bus tour, there was a stampede to line up for the bathrooms, many of which were unisex. We quickly learned that the first one in and out would tell the second in line where to look for the flush button, handle or chain. Some were on top of the tank, some on the floor, to the left, to the right, above, below, etc. The word would then be passed down the line, speeding up the process considerably. I considered writing a travel book called "The Bathrooms of Italy," but this web site takes care of it all. thanks.

Paris (1960)
Great site!
In 1960, our first trip to Europe, we were listening to jazz in a small place on the Left Bank. I asked about a wc and a gentleman offered to show me where it was. I followed him out of the door into a building next door. As we climbed the steps, the lights went out, then came on again. Finally, we reached a door, and I went to find two footprints and a hole. Trying to aim in the dark is tricky.
It wasn't until we returned from Europe that I realized I was lucky and that the gentleman was, indeed, one. My husband would never have found me.
It was a great trip, and we did it again 37 years later.

The Long Ride to Megeve (France):
We were returning from Cannes to Megeve, and stopped over in Lyon for a leisurely supper. Once we were back on the road, wouldn't you know? We had to find a bathroom.
Never fear! Along the side of the highway was a clean cement structure, where we could prepare for the long ride up to Megeve. They're not fancy, but nature keeps those clean --- those French know what's important when designing highways!

Romania
I notice you don't have any entries for Romania. I was there in 1997 on a University sponsored tour that was planned and guided by Center for Romanian Studies at Iasi University in Iasi, Romania. The bathroom situation there is much like Italy, including a scarcity of facilities. A car whose job was to scout out facilities for us preceded our bus. The toilets, when not primitive, had bowls whose design made flushing difficult. The bowl was long, flat, and the water was in a hole to the rear. So whatever got deposited on the flat front stayed there. Heavy coarse toilet paper clogged the pipes. So after 2 or 3 uses, you had a mess. And like another correspondent, I hugged my Kohler and wrote Kohler, as I mentioned to you in posting a new bathroom. We don't realize how fortunate we are until we visit less developed countries.
Great web site! I hope it will grow and grow

Ireland
No story - only a comment about the bathrooms in Ireland. First of all, you ask for the “toilet.” They are not so Victorian-minded as the Americans. And, secondly, I defy anyone to find a dirty or messy bathroom in IRELAND! We spent 2 1/2 weeks driving around the country in July, and every TOILET either in a restaurant or by the wayside was immaculate and well-supplied with soap, paper and hand dryers. That's all folks. MB

Italy
Your web site is a wonderful idea. We had spend two weeks vacation in Italy and were shocked to see what poor conditions the facilities that we found were in. With a country that attracts so many tourists one would expect the facilities to be better maintained. We found a lot of holes in the floor, which is not my cup of tea. The WC’s were worth the cost as most of them were well maintained with seats and paper. It is not healthy for a female to squat while using a facility, but many Italy's tourist areas did not have seats. We were shocked to see the long lines at the Vatican plaza waiting to use the facilities. Hotels are the best places to use while traveling in Italy if they would let you use their facilities.
There was no WC at the Tower of Pisa in Pisa.

motw said...

ren/rhen - please don't post comments that long here. Just a link to your own blog or website will do.

Brat said...

MOTW - urm, last time I looked this was Polly's blog, and I have no doubt she can take of herself.

motw said...

Thanks for slapping my wrist, brat.

Kafaleni said...

holy moly..
That guy gives new meaning to the phrase "I've been everywhere..."

The 4 squares thing reminds me of a story my mother used to tell about the time (when my sister and I were toddlers) and she worked a couple of nights a week as a nurse aid at the local rest home. There was one old lady there who was incontinent, and Mum regularly had to clean up after her. Mum would wrap her hand in about 1/2 a roll of toilet paper to clean up this lady, and she (the lady) would say "Two squares is plenty, dear. You don't want to waste paper!" *shudder* This is the reason Mum never stopped us using as much TP as we felt we needed (within reason...) - the idea of having too little to accomplish the task is far worse.

BTW.. reading that post while on hold with a government department is a BAD idea. When they come back to you with details and you're desperately trying to choke back snorts of laughter at the image of PollyPI with half of her arm in the toilet, trying to fish out a blockage or three, it doesn't really work well. You sound like a psychiatric patient.

Higgy said...

My Dad's phrase was "Two wipers and a shiner" - so I'm guessing that's only 3 squares....

He was in the merchant marines as a teenager - I think this says a lot about who he is today....

Also - that hurling in the pants story - I'd heard that years ago - so throwing the red flag of "someone else's story" all over that.

Higgy said...

Aha - I knew it - from 1998: Vomit Story

Kafaleni said...

that was pretty much my take on it too, Higgy. I figure Mr "I've Been Everywhere" is a convoluted form of sp@m.

kibby F5 said...

Romania
I notice you don't have any entries for Romania.


Seeing as Polly hasn't, to our knowledge, been there I'm sure she doesn't have any Romanian entries.

Appears to have been a massive cut & paste exercise. Suppose ren/rhen could have provided a bio.

Polly P.I. said...

Ren,

Regarding, Toilets Around the World...

Could you cut it down to 200 words or less next time?

Just edit it down to something short and sweet...it will be appreciated much more.

And if you feel you have more to say, I encourage you to start your own blog and you can link to it when you make comments here.


Cheers,
Polly

Jeff Meyerson said...

My Dad's phrase was "Two wipers and a shiner" - so I'm guessing that's only 3 squares....

He was in the merchant marines as a teenager - I think this says a lot about who he is today....

Higgy, I've read this before with people who served overseas in WWII (The Big One). I think it was in one of Studs Terkel's books or another oral history book. Anyway, the guy had charge of the limited supply of TP and his line was something like "one up, one down, one to polish" like your dad. He even used the line on officers, who often were not pleased.

Tamara said...

Pretty sure "Ren" never read this blog. Another one of those spammers who just picks up on key words.

Anonymous-2 said...

tamara - "one of those spammers who just picks up on key words"

Does that mean Polly dare not tell any more "Crazy Man" stories. Gee, I hope not!

Mike Weasel said...

Wow, this comment section is longer than the rest of your entire blog I think.

Leetie said...

well, the vomit story WAS funny, anyway!

I'd just worry that using only 3-4 squares might lead to a finger pokethrough.

Kafaleni said...

*shudders*

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thor said...

wow. guess you picked up on the spam for this one. i do have to say i read through many of the "bathrooms around the world" stories, which brought back some memories.

i was in austria for four months last year, and i lived with a host family in a 350-year-old apartment. first impression as i received the apartment tour--there was a bidet in the bathroom, but no toilet! i thought, "oh crap!" (sorry...couldn't resist) fortunately, there was a wc, which was literally a converted closet that had only a toilet in it.

the coolest thing about the toilet was that it had two flush levels. if you pushed the button one way, you would get a baby courtesy flush, while pushing it the other way meant business. :o)

Anonymous said...

I once was in Colorada at a ski resort and came across the cleanest most spacious bathroom. I m telling ya you did not want to leave it was that impressive.

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I was searching for Elvis and somehow ended up in your blog, but you know I'm sure I saw him on the golf course yesterday. Now this is strange because usually I see him in the supermarket.

Honest really, last time I saw him there he was right in front of me, next to the steaks singing "Love me Tender".

He said to me (his lip was only slightly curled) "Boy, you need to get yourself a shiny, new lcd tv to go with that blue suede sofa of yours.

But Elvis said I, In the Ghetto nobody has a lcd tv .

Dude I'm All Shook Up said Elvis. I think I'll have me another cheeseburger.

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