by Kent Sterling
If we see American athletes doubled over in a pain as they try to execute a triple salchow or a front side 900, there will be a good reason. Using the facilities will be a challenge for those accustomed to solitude.
Sochi is at the foot of the Black Sea, and now we know why the Black Sea is black.
I have seen photos of toilets separated by a foot and nothing else, and toilets facing chairs. Presumably the chairs are for those awaiting their turn to defecate for a small audience.
There have been times when I have passed on the opportunity to avail myself of the facilities because another person was in a public restroom. If a mostly sanitary four-walled stall with a locking door didn’t provide the privacy I required because another guy was washing his hands, you can imagine my hesitation to offload with several people staring at me.
Before these photos were published, it never occurred to me that the possibility of sitting inches from another man as we both de-wasted even existed – other than in fetish films that I have successfully avoided.
If I were employed by a media outlet that required me to attend these games, I would seriously consider resignation before immersing myself in a culture where this kind of attitude toward the final step of digestion is deemed acceptable.
If I were an athlete who worked his entire life toward competing in the Winter Olympics, and through the luck of timing qualified for the Sochi Games, I would have a furious conversation with the fates that brought me to the land of porcelain sidecars. Tanking in qualifications would be a serious consideration.
I’m curious what the International Olympic Committee’s set of requirements for hosting the Winter Games might be if they don’t include the opportunity for a solitary and restful experience while seated for business.
While I have not traveled extensively, I have never seen this level of enforced camaraderie during waste expulsion. At a cockfight in rural
Mexico, the hosts were kind enough to provide a port-a-let. Granted, the port-a-let was nothing more than the outer plastic shell with a rogue toilet atop a cement slab without a connection to plumbing or even a hole in the ground, but at least the door locked. Despite the superior accommodations to those in Sochi, I do not recommend attending a cockfight. They are even more savage and weird than you can imagine.
Perhaps even worse are the signs near the toilets demanding that toilet paper not be flushed. The obvious question is what should be done with the fouled paper tissue? Do patrons need to walk their paper across the room to a receptacle? If so, do they need to lay the paper on the floor as they pull their pants up? Even if there is a garbage can within arms reach of the throne, is there a lid? If not, it’s disgusting. If so, it’s even more disgusting because if it’s one of those cans with a flip top lid, people likely move the lid by pushing it with the soiled tissue.
In the picture above, it appears the trash bin is equipped with a pedal that propels the lid into an open position, which I saw as a positive until I tried to reach that far back with my foot while on a toilet. Impossible to reach without standing, and the last thing I want to do while sitting completely uncloaked 18 inches from another guy in full expulsion mode is to stand and turn toward him to de-lid the can.
As a tourist, there are few places I would refuse to experience, but the land where public disposal of yesterday’s dinner is encouraged would slide quickly to the bottom of the list, right above Kabul, Damascus, and Lubbock (the Fort Wayne of Texas).