CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

January 19, 2009

PONDERING THE PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION PORTAPOTTY PROBLEM


PONDERING

THE PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION

PORTAPOTTY PROBLEM

Will Washington, D. C.’s 5000 Portapotties Be Enough?

      Will there be a major problem in Washington, D. C. on January 20, 2009, when an estimated 1.5 to three million persons are expected to descend on the city for Barack Obama’s inauguration?
     As the crowd is being referred to as a “logistical nightmare,” residents are feeling a sense of apprehension about one issue—will there be enough portapotties
     Rightly so. With only 5,000 portapotties available, Mother Nature’s urges may create the most major problem in the city. Museums and other public buildings are expected to be open to allow visitors to use their facilities. Although some residents may flee the city to escape the nightmare, other compassionate residents may risk allowing attendees to use their home potties.  http://www.flickr.com/photos/carolyncholland/3208917592/
     This isn’t the first time in history that Nature’s Calls have presented problems. http://www.flickr.com/photos/carolyncholland/3208917326/in/photostream/
     One of the few ancient groups for which toilet practices were document was the Essenes, whose sect was at Qumran. Its young male zealots opted for an austere and isolated life that demanded ritual purity. Their “religiously imposed toilet practices,” according to researchers working with the Dead Sea Scrolls, exposed members to intestinal parasites that shortened their lifespan.
     Unlike the Bedouins, who dumped their waste on the surface of the ground where the sunlight killed the parasites, the Essenes dumped their waste in a hole outside the city, according to 1st-century Jewish Historian Josephus. Persons walking through the soil could be infected by the parasites, which could persist for a year or more in the waste buried in the hole.
     Louis Phillipe, the future king of France, explored the United States during the French Revolution. His journal records the toilet problems he experienced while traveling through Southwestern Pennsylvania to Kentucky: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carolyncholland/3208917370/in/photostream/
     Nowhere are there chamber pots; we asked for one at Mr (sic) J. Campbell’s and were told that there were broken panes in the windows. The reply was perfect for a game of cross questions and crooked answers. There were indeed many broken panes, and it is a rare thing here to sleep in a hermetically sealed room. The other day, being in a loft, we were looking for the window or opening that should do service for a chamber pot. We found it 10 feet up, and so we insisted on some sort of receptacle; they brought us a kitchen kettle!
     Perhaps the 5,000 portapotties will be sufficient if the crowd does not exceed 1.5 million persons. The National Parks Service recommends that there be one portable facility for each 300 attendees, but note that that depends “on the weather, cold and rain will make a significant difference.” However, estimates of the crowd size keeps mounting, offering Mother Nature a chance to win in Washington this week.
     Each portable toilet has a 44 inch wide “disabled friendly” door and can be used 200 times before it requires cleaning. Inside each is a hand sanitizer and a minimum of four rolls of toilet paper—that’s one roll per 50 persons. Who will replace the “TP” when it runs out, or some person decides to replenish their home supply with it?
       Beyond these portapottie problems another dilemma exists. John F. Banzhaf III is a George Washington University public interest law professor who is known as the “Father of Potty Parity.” He is raising the issue of portapotty discrimination against women, claiming that the assignment of an equal number of portapotties to men and to women is discriminatory, since it will result in much longer wait times for women. Women need more time in the portapotty because they need a much longer time than men to urinate; they have to deal with feminine hygiene problems and in some cases pregnancy, and they often have children in tow. Furthermore, they are less likely to relieve themselves in public, which men are sometimes forced to do.
     Banzhaf’s solution is to have a two-to-one ratio portapotties, favoring women, to increase the number of unisex portapotties, and, he suggested, the inauguration staff members should have the authority to direct women to men’s toilets where necessary.
     A scroll through the Internet produced additional creative answers to the issue of portapottie. For $9.99 one can purchase an Emergency Reusable Portable Toilet. However, this might be slightly bulky to carry, and obvious to use, in the crowded streets on Inauguration day. 
     Inaugural attendees could carry an inexpensive Portable Urinal with a lid that holds 28 ounces. A belt will slip through its handle, making it as easy to carry as a water bottle. Again, its use calls for public humiliation, which can be overcome if the need is great enough. Perhaps it could be rented out along the way. Then, if there is an obnoxious person who is unaware of the device, you can offer him a “drink” as a means of emptying it.
     The $13.99 Portable Camp Toilet has an aluminum frame with a seat, having a weight capacity of 260 pounds. Open it up and you can sit when your legs are tired. To use it when Nature Calls, you need plastic bags (it’s kind of like carrying bags when you walk your dog).
     Another creative solution is to carry adult diapers, enabling Mother Nature’s emergencies to be caught without it dribbling down the legs.
     It remains to be seen whether the January 20th portapottie issue in Washington, D. C., will be overcome. We should all watch the news on January 21 to learn if the Inaugural Committee met Mother Nature’s needs appropriately. 
     A final note. On January 17, 1910, the man said to have developed the toilet mechanism died. His name was Thomas Crapper.

Now that the Inauguration is over, would anyone who was there care to comment (in the comment box below) on the ease or difficulty of the portapotty problem during the event?

ADDITIONAL READING:

www.beanerywriters.wordpress.com/

www.carolyncholland.wordpress.com

TURKISH TOILETS IN A DARJEELING (India) TRAIN STATION

TIME TO GO

RIDING THE RAILS: A True Story

ICE HARVESTING: BIG BUSINESS IN EARLY AMERICA

“DATING WHEN FIFTY-SOME:” A Guy’s Version

I HAVE A PERMIT TO CARRY…

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS & WRITER’S EVENTS: January 9, 2009

WORDS OF THE YEAR 2008 Part I: VOCABULARY TEST

WORDS OF THE YEAR 2008 Part II: VOCABULARY DEFINITIONS

INTEGRITY: A JOURNALISTIC CODE OF ETHICS REVIEW

JANUARY DAYS OF CELEBRATION: Part 1

THE WRITING LIFE: There’s a World Out There?

CHILD ABUSE DEFINITIONS

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4 Comments »

  1. On a smaller scale, the same portapotty problem exists when Ligonier (PA) celebrates its annual Fort Days the second weekend in October. Thousands of visitors descend on the small rural Pennsylvania town where Fort Ligonier is located.
    In 2007, 86 Port-A-Johns were distributed in several locations. By Sunday evening, all were relocated to a field that houses the summertime country market. There they were cleaned and hauled away.
    In addition, 18 tons of trash were cleared off the streets, 207 barrels of trash were removed, and trash removed from hard to find places.

    Carolyn C. Holland, facilitator of the Beanery Writers Group, Latrobe (PA) http://www.beanerywriters.wordpress.com

    Comment by Carolyn — January 19, 2009 @ 7:15 pm | Reply

  2. 1 Comment »

    If you had a “ticket” this meant you were in a higher security zone than the rest of the Mall and there were NO (that’s zero) potties for those thousands of people. When the event was over we were restricted to the fenced in blocks below 4th St SW (I think I have that correct) and funneled to the closed/overcrowded Federal Center Metro station. Most people who needed a rest room fanned out and lined up outside office buildings and businesses offering sit-down food which are required to have rest rooms. I found myself, about an hour after I started LOOKING for a potty standing in a line for another hour inside the Quiznos near 4th and C Streets. The mens room was out of order so we all used the Ladies room which, despite the traffic, stayed clean, and stocked with bathroom tissue and paper towels.

    Not for the faint of heart or the weak of bladder!

    Comment by A Perrone — January 21, 2009 @ 8:26 pm | Edit This

    Comment by carolyncholland — January 21, 2009 @ 9:20 pm | Reply

  3. I thought there were plenty of port-a-potties. There were never lines for the restrooms and I always so hundreds of them wherever I went.

    Comment by Catharine — January 22, 2009 @ 1:44 pm | Reply

  4. I find the two experiences described in these comments to be interesting. I wonder what the difference in the two situations was.

    Comment by carolyncholland — January 23, 2009 @ 4:50 am | Reply


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