Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Heady Thoughts On Toilet Etiquette

The transport truck, or at least seventeen of its eighteen wheels lashed my windshield with what could only be described as a gigantic brown slushy. I cursed the fat-arsed driver, and then pawed the controls which would make my wipers beat more frantically. Driving to Halifax in a snowstorm is one of the many winter pleasures I endure as a Canadian. The very thought of sliding under the wheels of a Tim Horton's transport truck and dying on the highway leaves me feeling surprisingly empty. If this is my fate, as a Canadian who drives in the winter, I, at least, hope it's not a Tim's truck. How ironic would that be?

You might think that driving on the highway is my greatest fear while winter traveling, but it's only in second place. My first fear is public toilets, particularly at gas stations where truckers stop. When you see a big, burly man go into a washroom ahead of you, lock the door, and then not come out for five minutes, then you know you're in deep doo-doo (sometimes literally). This happened to me back in October.

Trucker Ted unlocked the washroom door and exited. His face was red and mottled. His hands were not wet, indicating a disregard for his own hygiene and, more importantly, mine. He fumbled with his inordinately enormous Freightliner belt buckle, which supported his inordinately large gut and lengthy, hot hamburger intestines. At this point I was desperate to use the facilities, so I took a deep breath and went in, but only after generously allowing my wife and son to go before me. Even when I went in, there was something lingering in the stale air.

Gawd I hate public washrooms.

On my most recent trip, to Halifax, I needed a bathroom break and a few groceries, so I decided to stop at the Superstore on the outskirts of town. Superstore bathrooms, as a rule, don't set the bar very high for cleanliness, but at least they're not frequented by truckers. The door was open so in I went. I looked down at the toilet, then went back outside the door to scan the parking lot for Peterbilts. No eighteen wheelers...that came as a surprise. I went back in and looked at the toilet again, in disbelief. What I saw was not the work of a suburban grocery shopping soccer mom. It was definitely the work of a man. Likely a burly man with a meaty beltbuckle.

I know a lot about a lot of things, but gastroenterology is not one of them, yet I was pretty sure that I knew what the culprit looked like. I don't want to go into details about what I saw, but let's just say the the visitor before me didn't agree with his last meal. It looked as though he had a grudge against the toilet, as though it had done something to him and it was time for payback. The toilet looked like it had been Ziebarted by a disgruntled Hershey's addict. It was the Halifax explosion all over again. Fortunately the damage was contained to the walls of the inner bowl. I went about my business, though clearly feeling quite nauseated. I really had to go, otherwise I would have motored off to the nearest truck stop and taken my chances.

Now, this is where the real dilemma kicked in. What if someone was waiting for the bathroom when I departed? The toilet was still plastered from the guy before me, even after I flushed, but when the next person enters they're going to think that I'm the dirty pig who made the mess. I didn't want to be anyone's scapegoat, or stool pigeon. It then struck me that this was the perfect opportunity to use 'the male defense'. Sorry ladies, this one is just for the guys.

When I was done I lifted the toilet seat to the up position, as if to indicate that I had just gone in for an innocent pee. I washed my hands, then used the paper towel to twist the bathroom door handle open. I tossed the paper into the garbage, smirked at the person waiting to get in, and then walked away with diplomatic impunity.


  1. Get yourself some Depends.

  2. After reading this one Ian, it doesn't sound like a bad thing thing that you only have some 70 posts to write before you turn the page on this blog.

  3. Hey, don't stop posting because I make silly comments ... eh ?

  4. Don't worry Jean...I can't be stopped!