Tuesday, November 29, 2011

To Pee, Or Not To Pee (In Public, That Is)

The man in white in this field should have no problem whatsoever finding an appropriately private place to relieve himself, I'd say. 

Is it acceptable to urinate anywhere other than in a recognized rest room or bathroom? For most people in the Western world it's not really a question at all any time we're thinking clearly - unless we're out in the countryside somewhere relatively private.  I've never actually tried to lift my leg on one but I've peed near my share of trees over the decades.

From my distant past I recall occasions when I subscribed to a theory that a large volume of beer in your bladder caused pressure on some unnamed nerve to the common decency portion of the brain, triggering the false thought that it was acceptable to release that same large quantity as quickly as possible: in a stairwell, on a neighboring table, wherever possible. Depending on how much alcohol you've already run through your system the decision may become a somewhat moot point, also; countless online images and videos can attest to people's lack of control, if not propriety.

You'll regularly see adults with small children in Taiwan, for example, thinking nothing of stopping a the male child with them on a city sidewalk, opening their fly, and directing them to relieve themselves into the gutter or onto the sidewalk itself.  Who knows what they'd do with a little girl - thankfully I've never seen a wee one squatting anywhere that I can remember. Some will turn the boy towards a hedge or flower bed, but I haven't kept that kind of track of it, naturally - it's just an oddity I'm not used to seeing here in the US, unless it's what appears to be a homeless person peeing in a doorway. Goodness knows there are parts of many cities here that have a disturbingly high level of urine scent about them; no need to point out any individually.

Riding along in a taxi one afternoon in a "nicer" part of the office business area of Bangkok I was surprised, though, to see an Asian man in his later middle age walk over toward a hedge along the sidewalk, and, without so much as a glance around to see who else may be nearby in addition to the lanes of stopped traffic open the fly of his well-tailored suit and pee more or less into the shrubbery.  I say more or less, because even from the taxi at a casual glance it was no secret that the man wasn't raised in a family that believed in circumcision.

It made me wonder why on earth he didn't use the facilities in the last building he'd been in or why he couldn't hold on until the next ones were available.  He didn't seem to be visibly anxious or in distress - indeed, the most striking thing about it was his casual air while "airing" it.

Before anyone goes looking for the "comments" button I'm well aware that Thailand's culture is not like things here, and like I said: sometimes Nature, substances, medical conditions and other reasons can sometimes skew our views on what's proper. It just startled me that particular day, but here's hoping the habit doesn't spread as the norm to those over, say, the age of seven or eight.  Bangkok has enough on its palette of aromas already, thank you very much!


christianpfc said...

Now that you mention it, I saw the one or the other motorcyle driver in Thailand pee on a wall.

When out in nature it is quite natural for me to pee when I have to. The only problem is that there is no water to wash my hands.

Some months ago, I was waiting for a train in an almost empty train station near Paris. Opposite to me (on the other side of the railway tracks) on the departure platform, a man opened his zipper and peed down on the railway tracks. It took me a few seconds to realize what was going on, too long to take a picture. When he was done, he noticed that I witnessed the act we both had to lough.

khunbaobao said...

A rail station? Eeks. Odds are a security camera caught that one, too - LOL.

As for places to wash your hands, that's what those travel-sized bottles of hand sanitizer are handy for, as it's not always practical to wash your hands before eating some street foods, either.