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Uncle_Tricky

S(h)itting in the Dark

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Hey ya'll, thot some might get a laugh outta this piece I wrote for the local paper. Bring your headlamp if you want to take a dump in Twisp!

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Sitting in the dark

Methow Valley News

January 7, 2004

 

As a prolific pooper without a proper crapper, I greatly appreciate the public restrooms scattered about the Methow Valley. Wherever you need to go, there they are.

 

Aside from the restrooms that have been hidden away at the Community Center, Winthrop started the trend of providing bathrooms for the people. In 2002, a set of primitive but stylish public restrooms sprang up in Mazama. Not wanting to be left out, Twisp added public facilities in The Merc Playhouse building last year.

 

I remember my first visit to the Twisp restrooms. There I was, doing my business and appreciating the bright, sparkling new construction. Then the lights went out. My first thought was, "Shoot! Perhaps a tree fell on the Loup powerline, causing the Methow electrical grid to crap out."

 

Then I realized the restroom lights were on a timer. You see, in order to save energy, Winthrop and Twisp installed the restroom lights on a motion-activated sensor. When you walk in the door, the sensor detects your movement and the lights click on auto-magically. But once you enter the stall, the sensor can no longer "see" you, and the clock starts ticking….

 

Sitting there in the darkness, I realized I had exceeded the allotted time to do a number two. Now I don’t linger, and I do eat my share of fiber, but subsequent visits to the Twisp public bathrooms almost always ended the same way: me sitting in a stall as black as the proverbial bowels of Hell.

 

In an effort to achieve enlightenment, I’ve tried waving my arms over my head to get the attention of the motion detector. It doesn’t work. Standing up in the darkness with pants around ankles while waving one’s arms in the air is also futile and fraught with potentially messy peril. Trust me.

 

Inevitably, just after the lights go out, someone else arrives to use the restroom. They open the door and step into the darkened bathroom, which causes the lights to turn back on. Whereupon they immediately notice two boots visible under the stall wall. I can practically hear their thoughts: "Why is someone sitting in the public bathroom in the dark?! How long have they been there? Are they even alive?"

 

This recurring experience raised some profound questions, such as "Has the Town of Twisp imposed comically unrealistic time limitations on illuminated defecation? Or am I just a slow go-er?" Clearly some scientific research was necessary.

 

I recruited a female assistant who owned a stopwatch. This allowed me to get precise time measurements for all Methow public bathrooms, while avoiding the difficult task of explaining to the police why I happened to be sitting in a women’s public restroom with a stopwatch…in the dark.

 

Measuring the time for the Mazama bathrooms was easy. They have no light or heat, so just remember to dress warmly and bring your own flashlight.

 

Winthrop is the land of equal pooping opportunity. The automatic timers in both the men’s and women’s rooms are set to allow visitors a generous 17 minutes of light.

 

By contrast, the Town of Twisp gives women 11 minutes of light to do their business–less than Winthrop, but still plenty of time. However, if you’re a guy in Twisp, you get a mere 2 minutes and 31 seconds before the automatic lights go out. I’m not shi…uh…kidding you: 2 minutes and 31 seconds.

 

My suspicions regarding the timed lights in the Twisp public bathrooms were confirmed, but this only raised more profound questions. Why do men and women receive the same amount of time in Winthrop, but wildly different amounts in Twisp? Is the town of Twisp simply more zealous about saving energy? Or are those who use the Winthrop bathrooms on average six times more constipated and thus need more time than those who use the Twisp restrooms? I don’t know, but these are questions to consider next time you use the public facilities in the Methow.

 

Should the Town of Twisp reset the timer in the men’s room to allow for a more leisurely and gender-equal public bathroom experience? Definitely not! Every town needs unique and distinguishing features.

 

Instead, Twisp should install a one-word sign in the men’s room stall: HURRY. First-time visitors would sit there pondering its meaning–for exactly 2 minutes and 31 seconds–at which time the lights would go out, and sitting there in the dark, they would see the light.

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I seem to remember a bathroom like this in college, resulting in the same waving of hands/jumping in the dark. I ended up throwing a toilet paper roll out the stall to trigger the lights and beat a hasty retreat.

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I shit outside everyday at work (construction site). It was rather dark (and chilly) this morning.

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I shit outside everyday at work (construction site). It was rather dark (and chilly) this morning.

 

I don't know many architects who would put up with those conditions on a regular basis. How'd you get the short end of that stick?

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