Monday, August 10

A Royal Flush

My 10 year old nephew, visiting from the United States, burst out with a pretty amazing observation, after we checked into a wonderful apartment in the foothills of the Abruzzi National Park. Obviously following in the footsteps of his dear old aunt (and with a hint of exasperation in his voice, I’d say), he remarked, “Why is it that every single toilet in this entire country has a different way of flushing??!!” According to Giancarlo, he has yet to flush the same way twice. In fact, even in our rental apartment, each bathroom had a different system.

Here’s his list:

- Sometimes, you have to pull a sort of plug upwards into the air that you find on the toilet tank.
- Other tank tops have buttons which you have to press down on (only after you’ve tried pulling them up)
- On trains, you have to press down on a pedal if you can find it (but only after you realize there is no other way to flush)
Sometimes it's not a pedal but a little rubber thing in the floor
- On superfast trains, there’s actually a light switch that flushes the toilet like supersonic speed as in airplanes
- Old apartments have chains you pull down like old light switches
- Some have buttons you have to press real hard on the wall, which have no relation to the toilet area itself
- Then there are those plastic plates on the wall, divided in two, and it takes a moment to figure out what the two sides mean...he usually presses either one, both seem to do the trick, but not always
- And, finally, some have buttons hanging down from the tank which you have to push up, and then hold it there, in order to assure proper flushing

Coming from a country in which everything is standardized, down to the light switches on the inside right as you walk into that very bathroom, I can see why he was a bit perplexed. Part of the beauty of discovery, I suppose.
I can’t wait to hear his uptake on toilet seats.


Dave514 said...

Then there are still some operated on the Montana or USAF Norden Bomb sight drop system.


Context Travel said...

My least favorite is the door handle -shaped type that you have to either press down or pull up until the water starts going. Close runner up are the automatic flushes now popping up in stations and airports that are light sensitive- which routinely start to spurt up water as soon as you sit down!

Carol said...

kudos go to the newer bathrooms (in homes, hotels etc) that pay attn to water conservation. the flush mechanism is on the wall and there are two choices. you choose according to how much water is needed to flush the waste away. the larger panel,more water. do we have those in north america?

Jacques said...

What about the turn-knob faucets that you turn on (running, rushing water, depending on how much you turn) and which have to be manually turned off? Milan is full.

On an aside... at the Science Museum of Boston I discovered for the first time this summer (for urinals, at least) dry, waterless urinals. They were perfectly clean, but I don't have any way of knowing if the cleanliness was do to a very effective "dry-flush" system or just meticulous bathroom janitors, as the rest of the museum was also generally very well kept, even with almost all "hands-on" exhibitions, which often, in other museums, are always in various state of disrepair.

Irreverent Italy said...

Well, if you really want a treat...I recall the men's room at the Royalton Hotel in NYC...brings you back to the Ancient Roman baths.
Guys basically stand there & do their thing on a solid wall with a beautiful cascade of water running down it!
They sort of zip it up if a woman goes on in to peek...!

Dave514 said...

I remember the Royalton it was quire the pissoir. Boy, is anything better than what was going on in Pompeii et alia. Can you imagine the bong in Roman cities?


Dave514 said...

Opps! Sorry about that, I meant pong--I don't think bongs were invented quite yet.


Jacques said...

your first attempt was probably closer. Water-pipes used for recreational smoking have been around for many millenniums, while pong was only invented in the 1970s.

If you refer to stench and smell of open sewage (I was kidding about the video-game, I know that was not what you meant), you need not go back centuries or millenniums, I was just around Roma by Night a couple of weeks ago and many of the smaller streets around Campo dei Fiori e about Trastevere are becoming late-night public "urinaritorie", truly open air and with no wall of cascading water to cleanse the senses.

Cherrye at My Bella Vita said...

Ha! So funny. I can see this brewing in your nephew's mind before he even brought it up. Did anyone mention the (lack of) toilet seats?