An Ode to the Crapper, The Big 80’s, and a Japanese Toilet, Too

office-space-copier

Technology is beautiful…when it actually works.

When I was in high school, there was a discount department store that had pay toilets.  The theory was that you put a dime in the slot, turn the lever and the bathroom stall door opens.  It was slightly reminiscent of a parking meter, only it wasn’t timed.  In practical application, however, people liked to do funky things with the slot, such as jamming it up with popsicle sticks (what they were doing with those in the crapper I’ll never know) or super glue.

The end result was that even if you were one of those people who were willing to pay the dime to keep from having to slide under the stall door, the odds were very good that even with the dime you weren’t going to be opening that stall door any time soon.  Many individuals saw fit to shimmy under the stall door or barring that option, (somehow, considering this was a ladies’ room) pee in the sink, pee in the floor drain, or, which did happen on occasion, drop a deuce on the floor drain.

paytoiletlock

The motivation behind that great old poem:

Here I sit, all broken hearted

Paid my dime, and only farted.

I don’t think that I ever had to use the bathroom so urgently while at that store that I couldn’t make it across the parking lot to the Burger King to use their (free) toilet.   I was never good enough at doing the Limbo to consider trying to shimmy under the stall door.  I wasn’t tall enough to consider peeing in the sink either, and considering how many people just relieved themselves on the floor, I didn’t want to risk touching that floor with clothing, body parts or hair to begin with.

Today is one of those “somebody jammed a popsicle stick in the crapper lock” sort of days. It’s an automatic “go to option B” sort of day.  Our invoicing system isn’t working, which means I’m not selling anything.  I can’t do reports.  I can’t check inventory.  The phones are still on though, so I can still listen to people bitch, and I can freak out about all the people I’m going to have to call and all the catch up I’m going to have to engage in once the system is actually working again.

paytoiletlockcompanyvig

Leave it to the New Englanders to find another way to make you pay!

Pay toilets seem to have lost their popularity, at least in central Ohio.  I am surprised someone hasn’t figured out a toilet lock that accepts MasterCard and Visa.  If the City of Columbus can find parking meters that take plastic then I’m sure the technology exists. If I really, really had to go, I’d be willing to pay, let’s say $5 on my debit card to get in.

I probably shouldn’t give people ideas, although maybe there was a lesson learned from the behavior of the sink whizzers and floor crappers of the early-to-mid 1980’s.  It just might not be worth the potential $5 per crap in the toilet if most people forgo the pay device and just crap on the floor and/or pee in the sink.

Considering the dismal condition of many public toilets, perhaps a $5 debit card swipe at the door (at the main door, not the stall door) would be worth it IF the toilet was kept immaculately clean.  The Japanese have it pretty good as far as toilet technology goes.  I’d be willing to pay to use one of those funky self-cleaning Japanese toilet/bidet/health monitor things.

hightechtoilet_Miyako

Elimination: Star Wars Style

Unfortunately most public bathrooms look more like this:

gas station crapper

No wonder I see so many trucker bombs.

I don’t understand the motivation behind wanting to trash a public restroom.  One might think it a good thing, a sort of karmic justice issue so to speak, to keep the crappers one uses tidy so the next time it’s necessary to use one it might be clean and somewhat safe to use.  Then again, the lesson I’ve learned over the past week is that logic doesn’t necessarily apply to what actually happens in the real world.

In high school I used the school bathroom once.  I didn’t even attempt it at the old Freshman Building, because it had the original (wooden seat) toilets from 1915.  In 1982 these were not safe to use.  The way they were originally designed was cool- you sat on the seat, used the toilet, and when you got up there was a spring-loaded device that automatically flushed.

I’m sure in 1915 that was amazing state of the art technology.  But by 1982, when (and if) they actually flushed, they would send a geyser of toilet contents skyward, often showering the toilet user with the toilet contents.

vintage toilet geyser

A shower that will not promote bodily cleanliness.

In the main high school (built in 1959) the functionality of the toilets wasn’t the issue.  They were regular industrial-style toilets with the toggle-lever flushers like one might see in your local Taco Bell. The things the girls did in the bathroom was the issue.  There was graffiti- everywhere- that would make a porn star blush.  Many people smoked in there.  I didn’t have the courage to light up in the school crapper though.

I used that bathroom exactly once.  It seemed OK, until for some inexplicable reason I looked toward the ceiling.  To my horror, a heavily used maxi pad was hanging by the tiniest bit of adhesive on to the ceiling.   If that tiny bit of adhesive had let go before I made a swift exit, I would have had a very nasty mess splattered all over my verdant, thick, big 80’s spiral permed hair.

big hair

Yes, I had hair like this at one time- long, long ago, back when the air was dirty, sex was clean, and Steve Perry was oh-so-hot in Spandex. Spiral perms (i.e. the infamous Uni-Perms) not only fried your hair, they sucked the color out of it too.  Needless to say it would have been rather nasty to clean a bloody mess out of a massive hair nest like that.

Skoal was bad enough.  At least the girl who saw fit to spit Skoal in my hair ended up getting pinned down and having her head shaved.  I did have a few good friends in high school who really enjoyed the fact that I had cigarettes- and a car.

steveperry80s

The Big 80’s.  Steve Perry was probably the best thing about that entire decade.

Geriatric Meltdown, BANNED! and the Silver Tacoma of Rude

Jerry AtrikPerhaps I should have some sort of identification/ warning attached to Jerry when he makes his forays out in public.

It must be fortuitous for the greater community that I usually get stuck running Jerry’s errands for him.  I am normally the one who ends up having to go to Speedway (gas station/convenience store) to get his smokes and to put gasoline in his truck.  That is a bit more complicated than it sounds.

 Speedway has a promotional program in which you earn points for buying gift cards (buy a $50 gift card, get 1000 points, then turn around and buy a $43 carton of smokes with it…) as well as for buying gasoline and the various convenience store crud they sell, such as Monster drinks and “Busted” papers.  Sometimes it’s a tad bit complicated to instruct the young punk clerk du jour on how to  1.) scan your Speedy card, then 2.)  take your cash in exchange for the gift card, then 3.) use the gift card to buy the carton of smokes.  If the order gets screwed up in any way you don’t get your 1000 points for buying the gift card.

When you earn enough points, you can redeem them for various free crap, like a $50 gas card, or an Amazon gift card, or whatever’s on the list.  Jerry’s whole aim in this is to get a $50 gas card.

If he gets 1000 points per $50 card he buys, and he doesn’t buy anything except $50 gift cards,  he’s got to spend $2425 to get a “free” card.

speedway gift cardNot the Golden Ticket, but close.

Anyway, Jerry does know to check the receipt to make sure he got his 1000 points.  The last time he went to Speedway to get his own smokes (I don’t know what possessed him to take this brazen step of self-sufficiency, but something must have) he forgot to have the clerk scan the Speedy card first, so the points didn’t appear on the receipt.

Ordinarily, in most places the clerk or the manager on duty can back out the transaction and let it fly again, but this kid was either new or having a bad day or both, and basically told Jerry tough titty, better luck next time, the money was already on the gift card and since the Speedy card wasn’t scanned first, he wasn’t going to get any points.

Jerry is one of those people who refuses to take “no” for an answer.

jerry points rage

I’m just glad I wasn’t there to witness this personally.

So the clerk (who is probably not terribly thrilled with Jerry’s condescending demeanor and/or gratuitous whining by now) tersely informs Jerry that the manager won’t be in until Monday (this was a Saturday night) and that he could come back then and take it up with the manager.  Jerry refuses to take the $50 card and demands his money back so he can go to the other Speedway to buy the card and get his points.

The clerk refused again.  So let the pissing contest begin.

Jerry doesn’t lose too many of those.  He’s embarrassed me in enough restaurants that he’s almost guaranteed a home-cooked meal.  I generally know how to fix his chow to avoid most of the bitching.  He’s probably one of the fussiest, bitchiest customers the Waffle House and the Frisch’s Big Boy have ever seen.

If I had to wager, I would bet he has consumed his fair share of boogers, loogies, scabs and semen, considering how rude he can be with wait staff.  “I want those fries flaming hot!”  I can hear him now.  Flaming hot with a sprinkling of scabs and a splash of bodily fluids… hawwkkkk…but I’m the passive-aggressive one.  It’s easier to feed him at home so that others are not treated to his egregious lack of manners and proper etiquette.

cold friesNo wonder they cringe at the Waffle House when they see his truck.  The silver Tacoma of Rude!

Then I get a phone call from Jerry while he’s at the Speedway asking me for the non-emergency cop number.  It’s a good thing he didn’t call the number I gave him, because he was in a different jurisdiction than the number he asked for.  Around here, if you’re outside of the area covered by a particular law enforcement agency, that means the dispatcher will tell you that’s not their problem and to call the other jurisdiction, and no, she doesn’t know who to tell you to call if the address you give is not in her area.

In other words, if you’re in the city of Columbus and you call Gahanna’s dispatch, you are SOL, which is what he would have done because he didn’t realize which jurisdiction he was in.  911 doesn’t work like that- dialing 911 will  (almost always) get you the correct dispatch, but you better know which jurisdiction you’re in if you call the non-emergency numbers.

bitchingSome things were never meant to be taken up with law enforcement.  They have enough to do.

I’m thinking to myself,  Are you really going to call the cops – even on the non-emergency number- for something kinda dumb like this?  For a moment I thought of World’s Dumbest and the guy who got arrested for calling 911 because his sandwich sucked and the restaurant wouldn’t give him a refund.  I am thankful Jerry didn’t get cops involved.

At that point, Jerry decides to stage a one man sit-in at the Speedway until the clerk got in contact with the manager, who told the clerk to give Jerry his $50 back, and instructed the clerk to tell Jerry to never set foot in that store again.

Banned from the Morse Rd. Speedway.  While sober.  Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.  To his credit, Jerry did go to the other Speedway and he remembered to have the clerk follow the correct procedure so he finally got his points, his gift card and his smokes.

rude tacomaJerry and the Silver Tacoma of Rude- coming to a convenience store or one star dining establishment near you!