public urination

UB shared a washroom tale that reminded me of my most recent adventure in public urination.

Well, not “public” because I am not quite Canadian enough yet to squat on the side of the road when nature calls in the middle of the prairie expanses*, but the public access to washrooms here, and their questionable cleanliness, continues to be a blight upon the resumé of my adopted land.

I was at Safeway on Friday. Yoga was cancelled as Jade’s daughter was felled with the latest plague of pukey tummy cutting a swath through the local schools. Dee was down last weekend and listed about pale and whiny for days after the vomiting ceased. So I cancelled rondezvous plans for lunch at BP’s with Rob and invited him home instead.

In our early days, Rob came home for lunch every day, but this cut into productivity on many levels and we reluctantly called a halt to it at the start of the school year this last fall. Lunch at home is a rare treat.

As I cruised the grocery aisle with purpose, I swung by its only washroom to make a pit stop. Occupied. Shopped a bit more and tried again. Occupied. A third try had me missing the vacancy by seconds as a young woman and her toddler emerged and an elderly man in gray sweats out dashed me for the door.

Heavy sigh.

I know this guy. I have seen him in the store before. He is one of two gentlemen whose homefulness is questionable and who use the Safeway washroom (did I mention there is only one in the entire store?) as a full service bath.

Standing outside the door, I heard the water running and the paper towels tearing. 4 minutes. At least. Water and towel tearing.

He slunk by me with head down and I walked in to find a sopping sink and wet floor.

Normally, I can be very yoga about this. Homeless people need to wash too, but I am less sanguine about the whole thing when I really need to pee. Patanjali just cannot be heard over the urgency of this particular bodily function. I am not above some things.

UB’s restroom tale spoke of being admonished to wash his hands by a “friendly” note** posted anonymously for all.

I didn’t go near that sink and I used the edge of my jacket sleeve to flush the toilet (would show no evidence of engagement – in case you were wondering) and the door handle.

I tried not to think about what might have been washed in that sink.

Seriously, one never knows – unless one is waiting in line.

*On our recent Spring Break road trip to the southlands, there were a few drivers here and there blithely pissing into the warming breeze.

**Friendly note courtesy of UB’s blog. Link in first paragraph, in case you missed it.

On the way into The Fort yesterday for the Canada Day celebrations, Rob pulled off into a canola field to answer nature’s call. I am beginning to take this in stride. I have certainly “seen” many an example of public urination in my time here to just chalk it up to the culture. Peeing at the side of the road, whether discretely as my love manages or with complete disregard as his best man showed when he  pee’d in the face of oncoming traffic on our caravan back from Jasper, is just a Canadian thing.

Knowing my fascination for the topic, Rob pointed out a news story in the Journal about the problem of drunken pub patrons relieving themselves in the doorways and alleys on Edmonton’s popular Whyte Avenue. Disgusted and in the hopes of stemming the tide, so to speak, business owners in that area are investing their own money in open-air plastic urinals. Three of these urinals, which can accommodate four men at a time, are going to be set up on the weekend nights in the busy club district downtown. Even though they will provide privacy to those seeking relief (something I am assured isn’t actually necessary in cases of emergency, drunkenness or a combination thereof), their backs will be exposed to those walking or driving by. In the interest of fairness, and to keep some desperate woman from attempting to use the urinals no doubt,  outhouses are also going to be provided.

You might be wondering if I have attempted to make the outdoors my personal potty again since coming here, and the answer is no. My husband is quite considerate and always manages to find me a sheltered facility  even if it is nothing more than an enclosed hole dug in the ground as rest area

facilities are in Saskatchewan. My daughter has yet to enjoy the wind on her bum as well. Although both Rob and I have mentioned to her the possibility of such a thing when we camp this summer, the look she has given us and her camel-like bladder lead me to believe that she has not assimilated to this point yet. 

Assimilation. And I thought it would be just getting used to French on the labels and signs.