Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Civilization and the Bathroom

This rather random, but how do you judge the level of civilization where you are? Availability of mass transit? High speed internet? Cable? Electricity? Running water? When I was in Girl Scouts, there was but one way to judge the level of civilization: bathroom facilities.

Level 0: Hole in the Ground. If you have to dig a hole to relieve yourself, congratulations, you are as far from civilization as it is possible to get. There’s no running water, no toilet paper (unless you brought your own), no permanent structure, and no privacy. Oh, and bring your own shovel.

Level 1: Latrine. Well, it’s still a hole in the ground, but at least you have some privacy. And a permanent structure. It’s probably best if electricity is unavailable, since lighting would only give you a better view of the creatures that have taken up residence. The more critters that share your bathroom with you, the lower you are on the civilization scale.

Level 2: BIFFY (Bathroom In Forest For You). Ah, BIFFYs. Only those who have been to Level 1 or 0 truly appreciate how wonderful they are. All the comforts of a public restroom – multiple toilets with individual stalls, running water right there instead of twenty or thirty paces away, and mirrors right over the sinks. The only things missing were air conditioning and flush toilets – yep, still a hole in the ground. Can you say “fertilizer for the ranger’s garden”?

Level 3: Flushies. You’ve now made it to level of central sewage systems, a great leap forward in public health care. Without them, there would be a rather low upper limit on the number of people a single city would be able to handle and your toilet would have to be a considerable distance from your living space. Now your toilet can be right in the next room! And you can share a square mile of land with thousands of other human beings without dying in a horrible plague. Excellent.

Level 4: Auto-flushies. There’s a computer chip in your toilet. Welcome to the 21st century. At this level, the number of automated items in the bathroom increases the level of civilization. I have seen all of the following, but have yet to see them all in one bathroom: auto-flush toilet, automatic towel dispenser, automatic soap dispenser, and automatic faucet. If you don’t have to touch anything but the door (and, you know, why even the door?), you have reached the ultimate level of civilization. Lack of physical contact with anything and anyone: the future of civilization as we know it.

Within each level, of course, the cleanliness of the facilities would increase or decrease how civilized your surroundings were. The presence of electricity and the distance from potable water were also factors. If something was broken, automatic downgrade. If the purse hook on the back of the door was deemed necessary, downgrade. If the soap was scented or had aloe, upgrade. Couch? Upgrade. But, when it came down to it, it was mostly about the flushies.


Blogger Jody said...

What about the three shells?

9/07/2005 9:21 PM  
Blogger SpakKadi said...

When Taco Bell is the only restaurant left, I'll let you know.

9/07/2005 9:33 PM  
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12/28/2005 1:07 AM  

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