Gross post alert
The one thing being suddenly pushed out of my sheltered teenage years into shared hostel accommodation (in a very rugged Nigerian University) taught me, was that squeaky clean loos were a luxury. Growing up, we didn’t live a posh life, but thanks to theOOhj Snr‘s day job in the academia, we had decent living quarters – complete with a loo I shared with the kid brother. On pain of a severe caning, Mrs RustGeek (Snr), ensured we kept our little loo clean. Unbeknownst to me, that luxury would be rudely snatched away from me in short order.
My first year at University was a culture shock of sorts. If coping with the new surroundings – and being far away from everyone I’d known up till that time – wasn’t hard, a slew of issues made it harder still. First us fresh-faced Jambites were given rooms on the ground floor; from which we were dispossessed by hardened serial students and confra-men. These same self appointed Lords of the domain colonised two of the four toilets on the floor, complete with padlocks for their own use, leaving the rest of us scrambling to use the remaining two. True to form, these were absolute cesspits of bodily fluids and smells, especially when baked to boiling by the withering sun. On the first occasion where I popped in, the cornucopia of smells and liquids made every desire to download vanish – a shell shocked state I stayed in for a full week.
With time,over that first semester, I learned a couple of crucial things that would keep me out of harm’s way through the following years:
1. Timing was of essence: The loos were cleaned at around about 10am – if dousing them in bucket fulls of izal and hosing them down with water could be called cleaning. Given that the rest of us normal chaps had to share a couple of loos, they did get soiled pretty quickly. Give or take, there was a two hour window within which the smell of izal was strong enough to subdue these smells of bodily excretions. I learned to synchronise my download meter to that crucial window to avoid being laid prostrate by the stench.
2. The angle of perch was critical: I learned pretty quickly that the easiest route to various skin infections was to allow fluids from the bowl splash willy nilly. Minimising the particle impact momentum was essential to achieve this goal. Two tactics evolved into very useful tools over that period. The first was create as much of a bed of toilet paper in the bowl [source] to soften the impact, thus minimising splashes. The second – and most important tactic – was to modify the angle of perch. At the right angle, the entire momentum of the solids are absorbed by the walls of the toilet, leaving gravity as the only driving force moving the delivered pellets. Where delta h (the vertical distance between the impact point and the liquid level in the bowl) is small, the resultant liquid impact velocity is negligible, thus transferring minimal momentum to the liquids (and avoiding splashing).
I am glad to say that by utilizing these two tricks, I grew to achieve well nigh 96% success in avoid the splash…Thankfully, after spending a couple of years in those conditions Mrs RustGeek Snr sold off a couple of choice wrappers (those were the Abacha days when money was scare) and got me out of there fast, a feat of quick thinking that probably saved me.
Postscript: Reliving the garish details has made me queasy if that is any consolation. I apologise for any lunch plans I may have (indadvertedly) mucked up…