Just when you thought it was safe for your suede shoes to go back to the restroom by using the toilet instead of the urinal, building owners throw you a curve ball. And just like their hanging brethren, the bowls that toilets are known for have now gone flat.
A word of warning: If you thought that my essay on Saucer-like Urinals was graphic, this will be worse. Proceed only if your imagination has gotten worse or if your fortitude has gotten better. And even then, do so with caution.
How Toilets Work
Physics plays large role in transferring what you have in your urinary bladder into the septic tank of a modern building or house. Gravity is the main law at work with the principle of deflection contributing to a lesser degree.
Early toilets, excluding the primitive hole in the ground, worked by pouring a bucket of water into the bowl to enable gravity to pull everything down a drain pipe. It is a rather simple, if not crude, way of getting rid of human waste.
But since having to lift and pour a pail with several liters of water can be quite inconvenient, especially when one is in a weakened state after a night of stomach problems, the design of the modern toilet has made getting rid of waste easy as stepping away.
[You gotta love those infrared-activated toilets!]
If you look a little more closely at typical modern home toilets, they will have two areas for water. The reservoir at the top holds several liters of water. This replaces the bucket and is released manually by tipping a lever or automatically by disturbing an infrared beam.
Gravity then diverts the water along hollow channels within the side walls before being released into the center. The purpose of this is to wash anything clinging to the wall of the bowl, such as urine, feces, or toilet paper.
The center of the bowl is the second area with water, although it holds a lot less than the reservoir. You’re probably wondering why it was designed this way, especially when it is a bad idea to have water in holes in the ground. Well, the answer is rooted in science.
[Man, you don’t know how long I have waited to say that in an intellectually snobbish manner!]
In an attempt to paint an ugly picture in your mind, water is a terrible idea for holes in the ground because it mixes with urine and excrement to create some form of slush. A gaseous stench is one of the by-products resulting from this unholy mixture. And since this is a gas, it spreads out into the surrounding areas just as quickly as you pass gas after a Chili buffet. Back then, the only option people had in controlling the stench was to cover up the hole with soil before digging a new hole somewhere else.
[Sadly, the stench is still able to permeate through the soil so it isn’t very effective; it gets even worse when it rains.]
Unlike porous soil, septic tanks, water pipes, and even toilet bowls are impermeable so gas does not pass through them. This means the only path that any gaseous stench can take is through open pipes.
Interestingly, modern toilets use water to control the odor. Since the water in the bowl is replaced with clean water every time it is flushed, there is no stench. In addition to this, the water acts as a seal to block the stench rising from the septic tank.
Without water acting as a barrier, your bathroom, and even your entire home, would start smelling like an outhouse.
[It’s actually a very simple solution to a big problem.]
Finally, the toilet bowl probably gets part of its name from the same bowl you sip your soup from. This shape was adopted probably because it is easier to pour soup into a bowl than on a plate.
Toilets are not bowls anymore
Which brings us to the problem the latest designs have. In an attempt to save water, many of the latest toilets do not have a bowl-like shape anymore. Instead of acting like a funnel, they now look like boxes underneath plates.
The angles are so sharp, either 90 degrees vertically or 180 degrees flatly, that liquid is deflected outwards instead of inwards. The consequence of not keeping things like urine inside the toilet is that your precious suede shoes get a golden shower every time you visit the restroom.
[The splash is similar to running a faucet over a horizontal plate, the water goes everywhere.]
Again, just like saucer-like urinals, try checking the floor if an imprint of your shoe is left behind after relieving yourself. If you also feel you legs getting wet, then you may be getting a bit back instead of giving it all away.
And if that isn’t bad enough, a toilet is worse that a urinal because it is used for defecating. So when your urine bounces back to you, well, it might include the previous person’s breakfast or lunch. In which case, your shoes might not just be turning brown, they may be taking on an ominous shade of green too.
So why do companies, after posting double-digit growth year after year, employ such dastardly means of terminating your shoes? The answer is simple: Greed.
Part of that growth most likely came from cutting costs instead of just increasing revenues. And since utilities like water can take up a large chunk of operational expenses, lowering consumption by purchasing toilets that minimize the use of water is one way buildings save money.
The silver lining, at least for me, is that I wear shoes that fully envelope my feet and long pants that cover my legs when I go out. Can you imagine the bacteria that coats the feet and legs of people who wear sandals and walking shorts? Yuck!
[Double yuck if they hop into bed at the end of the day without taking a shower or washing their feet!]
So what can we do about this? Well, apart from stepping further back from the toilet and hopping around while urinating, I don’t think there is much we can do.
Our only hope is if governments around the world decide to put it’s golden-shower-bathed-foot down and require building to use fixtures that keep urine inside instead of outside a toilet.
Then again, we can all wear thigh-high waterproof boots whenever we go out. We just need to remember to wash them when we get home.
[Just make sure the boots you use aren’t suede.]