I spent the first two weeks of my quarantine shitting in a portapotty in the parking lot of my building. It wasn’t great — but hey, at least it was always stocked with hand sanitizer.
The contractors I’d hired to renovate my bathroom were not so good on timeliness or communication before the pandemic started. And it only got worse from there. So I drove 300 miles in late March where I could at least be with my pregnant wife, and where at least I could shit indoors.
I returned home the other day to find that the bathroom still wasn’t finished (though at least I could shower and shit now). Disappointed, I began to unpack my things, and ended up listening to this new NPR Short Wave podcast, which strangely made me feel better. It traces the history of indoor plumbing — including the uphill battle of trying to get people to understand that no, actually, a centralized sewage system will be better for your sanitation, and you shouldn’t worry about the shit from other peoples’ shit infecting your home. It goes on to explain how things such as porcelain/tiling and first-floor “powder rooms” actually served utilitarian purposes, making it easier for people to distance themselves from potential disease carriers, or clean things off after hosting guests with uncertain medical histories.
To be clear, I’m not sure why this made me feel better about my frustrating bathroom contracting experience. Or the deadly virus that continues to rage just outside my doors. But it did. Or at least, I got me thinking about what other kind of weird innovations will be left behind in the long-term after this particular crisis finally ends. That, and I’m glad that my bathroom is mostly tile now.
How Infectious Disease Shaped American Bathroom Design [Short Wave / NPR]
How Infectious Disease Defined the American Bathroom [Elizabeth Yuko / CityLab]
Image: Public Domain via Pixnio
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