What If You Didn’t Have a Toilet?
So I remind myself of toilet scenarios I do know about, then extrapolate some personal situations out to extreme what-ifs. Our home, in which we have lived for 38 years, has its own septic system. During that time, when we had extreme storms, the power would go out. This meant that no water could be pumped from our underground well, and this electric outage disabled our showers, our faucets and our toilets.
I used to store plastic bottles of water so when things went black we could brush our teeth, get dressed by candlelight (since there are no windows in any of our bathrooms), and—get this—flush our toilets. If the power did not come back on for a couple days, the frozen food thawed and an excess of detritus threatened to overflow the toilet basin.
So I extrapolate—what if this happened all the time? What if sewer lines broke, became clogged and backed up regularly? What if I lived in poverty and there were no plumbers and no money and no electric company to call to fix our difficulties? What if I had to stand in line to use a communal latrine where flies buzzed, the floor was filthy, someone had evacuated due to acute diarrhea, and no one wanted to clean the mess? Now we’re getting closer.
This article originally appeared on gfa.org
To read more on GFA Digital Media Room on the problem of open defecation, go here.