Community Potty Training
It happened again. This time it happened at KMUD. Someone peed into a wastebasket at our community radio station. Oddly, the wastebasket was in the restroom at the station. I mean, who goes into a restroom, looks at a perfectly good toilet, then decides to piss in the wastebasket? As odd as this behavior seems, it wasn’t the first time.
This has happened so often that people who have P.O. Boxes in Redway can no longer access their boxes after hours because people kept peeing and pooping in the wastebaskets there. Many people around here blame homeless transients for the wastebasket wee-wee, but those people blame homeless transients for everything, whether the evidence warrants it or not. It’s pretty obvious to me that the persistent piss problem is homegrown.
First off, transients come and go, but the piss continues. The pee-pee at the post office continued even after they installed security-code door locks that prevented anyone but Redway P.O. Box holders from getting inside, and KMUD is run by and for the people of this community. Yes, the mystery pisser is clearly a local.
This shouldn’t surprise us. After all, we have a lot of “alternative” sanitation systems here in Southern Humboldt. I have one myself. In Ft. Bragg this past weekend, I used an indoor toilet for the first time in years, it seemed. I’d nearly forgotten how they worked, and peeing indoors, into a bowl of clean water felt just plain wrong,
but I had a lot of early training to fall back on. Folks who were born and raised here might conceivably have never seen, let alone used, an indoor toilet before.
We have a lot of “home-schoolers” in SoHum, and between the composting toilets, pit latrines, people who shit directly into their gardens or piss into their hydroponic reservoirs, a kid could grow up with a wide range of ideas about what “normal” sanitation means.
On the other hand, SoHum is a tourist attraction for people seeking communion with nature. Many of these people have probably never had to relieve themselves in the woods before, and might not know how to do it properly. In fact, hardly a week goes by where I don’t hear some complaint about human feces showing up somewhere it doesn’t belong. Clearly we have a problem.
I think the solution is education. We need a community potty training campaign. If we combine the instructions on how to use an indoor toilet with instructions on how to shit in the woods, everybody learns something, and nobody feels particularly embarrassed about it.
The Garberville-Redway Chamber of Commerce should print up some nice little illustrated, glossy tri-fold brochures with helpful, easy to understand diagrams that explain the whole process.
Informative posters on our community bulletin boards would also help.
Ads in our local papers should be part of the campaign too, with informative articles about proper sanitation.
The real key to the success of this campaign, however, would be a real working toilet that members of our community, and tourists alike, could try out for themselves.
That would give people the opportunity to use what they have learned in a real-life situation. In case they forgot to bring the brochure with them, instructions on how to use a toilet could be printed on the walls of the restroom itself.
If public education coupled with free condoms and syringes can slow the spread of the AIDS epidemic, and evidence shows it has, certainly public education coupled with free public toilets can slow the epidemic of “ewww, gross” in Southern Humboldt.
Of course, education and access won’t solve the problem of people who become too inebriated to control their own bodily functions, as often happens to many of our local residents,
or the issue of people who become so angry at this community that they intentionally drop a load wherever they see a “No Loitering” sign, a completely understandable sentiment among visitors, and one that I can certainly relate to,
but a respectful, nonjudgmental campaign of education and access would certainly solve the problem of people who simply don’t know any better.
We may even find that a respectful nonjudgmental campaign of education and access goes a long way towards restoring the self-esteem of the piss-drunk, and relieving the seething rage of the pissed-off.
Ultimately, we may discover that the whole problem is the result of a weird sexual fetish that the community refuses to acknowledge. Denial is certainly the deepest river in SoHum, and undoubtedly the most polluted, but we will never get to the bottom of it unless we can learn to be respectful and nonjudgmental about that too.
I realize that being respectful and nonjudgmental are almost as alien to this community as the concept of education, and that here in SoHum we consider “access” to be a privilege reserved only for people wearing the proper laminate, but I think a change of attitude is in order if we expect to solve this problem instead of simply looking for someone to blame it on.