PORTABLE TOILET DRAMA
Allan Whiting recalls a horror night, involving a portable toilet.
Many years ago my better half and I were still experimenting with the best way to cope with travelling-toilet issues. We could make do with the time-honoured ‘wee bucket’ but there were some occasions when a more solid proposition was required, if you take my meaning.
The obvious solution to this problem was a portable toilet, of which description there are several examples. Some of these are quite expensive, but because it would be more for emergency than regular use, I figured that a ‘cheapie’ would do.
I don’t know, dear readers, if you’ve had experience with these compact, portable bathrooms, but those who have may ‘see the future in the instant’, as The Bard once put it.
For those not in the know, a portable toilet is a two-piece arrangement, with the top section forming a seat, bowl and flushing water tank, and the bottom section holding chemical concoction that lies in wait for errant…motion.
At the junction of the two halves is a rubber gasket and a sliding floor valve is open to admit its burden and is then shut to seal this secret cargo in the chemical chamber, where it supposedly converts to something akin to molasses.
Because the lower chamber has a finite capacity it’s best reserved for serious toilet activities, with the ‘wee bucket’ being used for bladder biz.
But even with the stingiest administration there comes a time when the lower section needs emptying and refilling with fresh chemical. We all know there’s a paucity of dunny disposal sites, other than at camp grounds and local councils frown on people carting their portable dunny tanks into public loos.
What to do with our first load of partly bio-degraded poop?
On the night in question we were on the road and a couple with whom we’re close friends had invited us to dinner. Knowing that they were like-minded bush travellers we asked if we could dump our boat dunny contents at their place: “No worries,” was the reassuring reply.
So, we turned up at the appointed time, bag of grog in one hand and the dunny tank in the other. Best get the housekeeping out of the way before serious drinking began, we reasoned, so into the bathroom we went, poo tank in hand.
Sarah is a proud housekeeper and her bathroom is like one of those designer jobs you see in flash homemaker magazines, complete with fluffy towels, matching floor mats, Italian tiles and gilt-edged mirrors. A picture, in short. I’ve always felt guilty, just going in there and pulling out the old feller for a pee.
Being a cheapie, our portable dunny lacked a swivelling disposal spout that the best units feature. Ours was designed – if that’s the right word – to be emptied via the sliding floor valve. The instructions said to invert it on top of the toilet bowl and then open the valve, so the contents would drain out. Couldn’t be easier, I thought. What could possibly go wrong?
Plenty, as it turned out.
I gave the sliding floor valve a gentle tug, but it didn’t want to open, given the weight of the contents now resting on it, in its inverted position. A little more effort and still resistance; a lot more effort and then, ‘whammo’ it slid completely open.
What happened then takes far longer to recount than the real-life timeframe: at first nothing happened, because the contents blocked the opening and air couldn’t get in to displace the liquid, but that interval was an eye-blink – fortunately an ‘eye-blink’ because it wasn’t a good time to be wide-eyed.
With the temporary vacuum lock overcome, the contents rushed to the sewer network with a fire hose ferocity that exceeded the gentile toilet bowl’s immediate capacity.
The air displaced by the rushing liquid blew the portable dunny tank out of my grasp and a geyser of grey-green ‘soup’ blasted out of the toilet bowl and sprayed the room…and us.
The effect was similar to that achieved by Mr Bean when he painted an entire room by placing a bomb inside a can of paint. As on that occasion the only non-decorated areas were those masked by our bodies.
It was around this time that our hosts must have twigged that all was not well in the kahsi: “Are you two OK in there?” asked a querulous voice.
“Yes, we’re fine…er…you wouldn’t have any bleach and disinfectant would you…quite a lot would be handy,” came our retort.
The clean-up took around an hour, followed by our taking a powerful shower, with clothes on to start with, then slipping into borrowed clothes.
Dinner was ruined.
We put our soggy, defiled clothes in our hosts’ garbage bin. The fluffy towels and mats never recovered, so we sent them new ones.
Oh, I almost forgot …the portable dunny. We drove past a council clean-up area on our way out of town, so we left it atop a mound of roadside ‘collectables’.
Good luck to whomever scrounged it.
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