Toilet Training

Sometimes the most absurd things bring back a memory. Recently we’ve had some bathroom issues at work. Our once pristine environment has been tainted by strewn tissue and unflushing. We were perplexed. Stumped. What changed? And then it occurred to us…it was the temps. The only new variable we added into the equation was the temporary workforce helping us with email. Why did this seem familiar? Ahhh…yes…know I remember.

But first I must interject and clarify. I am not a public bathroom person. I am not someone who likes to talk about bathrooms or toilets. I find them to be very personal and private places. I do not care for bathroom noises, smells, or intentions. I do not like bodily functions and do not typically like bathroom related humor or discussions. I also have a fear of being trapped in an airplane bathroom, or one at a party, or in a restaurant. Trapped means you have to be freed, and then EVERYONE will know you were in a bathroom and doing bathroom related stuff. It is almost best to remain trapped. Except then you might die in the bathroom and that…oh, that is worse. I just want a clean and private place that i can do my thing quickly, wash my hands and get out as fast, fast, fast as possible.

In Asia (and in many other parts of the world) the plumbing rarely supports a large influx of paper. So people are accustomed to throwing their used toilet paper in waste bins. It isn’t typically too awful, as long as the bins are emptied regularly. It is common though to see them overflowing and nasty paper spilling across the floor. I will admit that even in the cleanest bathrooms I can’t allow myself to throw the used tissue in a bin. Yuck, no. I will use little and flush. No questions asked and no compromises.

Obviously this was an dilemma I faced everyday while living in Manila. That and the mystery of the broken toilet seats…which is what reminded me of this delightful recent bathroom issue. In several of our buildings, the toilet seats were broken and cracked, or missing. Missing? Who would steal a toilet seat? And where would you put it as you tried to escape the building and security? After months (maybe years) of letting this thing perplex me, I finally broke down and asked our Facilities Director. Knowing what you know about me, you understand why this would be a hard conversation.

Turns out that many of our employees came from small provinces where they didn’t typically have toilets. They were used to squatting. So…they stood on top of the toilet seats with their shoes on and squatted. And broke the seats. And then some people actually sat on the seats that were broken and fell in. So the Facilities Director decided to just remove the seats. Yeah. Wow, weird, wrong.

So logic tells me that our temps are from Third World countries like the Philippines. Or that they grew up in the jungles of Guatemala, the deserts of India, or the mountains of West Virginia. Perhaps this is a major leap of faith, but it makes me feel better than just saying they grew up here in the South.