Day 167: Potty Mouth

So I know I said I was going to tell you about Japan & China comparisons, but we’re going to put that on hold for something I have to get out…something pretty crappy actually.

I’ve had a more than a few chats with fellow expats & colleagues regarding the toilet situation here in China, which ranges somewhere between less savory than a porter john at a music festival to heated toilet seat with built in bidets (as I’m lucky to have in my apartment), and everything in between.

But(t) more than that, the culture around bathroom usage is something I’m still observing and trying to understand…so let’s start from the bottom (so cheeky!) shall we?

My daily struggle at work revolves around the loo. There are too few stalls, and too many women, a bummer (okay, I’ll stopppppp) enough in itself, right? And something you’d think would inspire the group to do their business and move on quickly, in observation of the constant line that forms as a result of the capacity, right? That, however, is not the case and people will stay in the stalls for what seems to me to be half hours at a time, meaning that you could stand waiting for upwards of 10 minute and see absolutely no turn over of the stalls.

Now, I’m not going to say too much, but I think we can all agree even in those times when we need fiber desperately…30 minutes ++++ is a lot of time in the John, so I took it to the streets and asked around.

Q(to my fellow expat friends): Is it common to have wait a long time for the bathroom at your work?

A: 10000% yes.

Q(to fellow Chinese colleagues): Does the entire country of China need probiotics & Activia?

A: *blink* *blink*

Q(t.f.C.c.): No, seriously, what’s going on in there?

A: I don’t like not having privacy at work [due to open desks], so I go and watch video for a break, or will read, sometimes even nap.

Q(t.f.C.c): You do NOT nap in there!?

A: *blink* *blink* Of course I do.

Q(t.m.f.e.f.): What do you think they’re doing in there?

A: Plotting global domination. That or Youku (video site like YouTube) or napping.

What I find particularly strange about this behavior is that it doesn’t seem to be exhibited in other public forums, and just something that happens in the workplace. Outside of office bathrooms, most public toilets are not much more than holes in the ground for squatting (no toilet paper is ever in them), and smell absolutely vile, which would make napping or hanging out a bit less pleasant I have to imagine.

Q (t.m.f.e.f.): Why are there footprints on the toilet seats?

A: They stand on the toilet to squat.

Q (t.f.C.c.): Why are there footprints on the toilet seats?

A: I stand on the toilet to squat. It’s healthier.

Oh. Well, there you go. Bottoms up!

The (rear) End.

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