John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
One-quarter of men surveyed also reported sitting down to pee so they could use their phones with both hands.
Are you really reading this Toilet Tuesday in the bathroom? Past TT editions here:
“A NATION OF MULTITASKERS”
It looks like Lyndon B. Johnson, fan of the toilet tete-a-tete, was ahead of his time. A survey from Sony and British telecomm company O2 indicates that an astonishing 75 percent of Britons whip out their cellphones while in the bathroom. Conversely, two out of five people report hearing "suspicious noises" in a call's background suggesting the person on the other end is using the loo, reports the Telegraph.
This survey – of which I question every aspect of, given that an online copy is hard to locate and that the companies are trying to launch a waterproof phone suitable for bathroom use – could help explain why public restrooms at times sound like the inside of a mental ward, with individuals yammering away in the confines of their toilet stalls. Aside from the quarter of the 2,000 respondents who owned up to making calls while relieving themselves, an alleged 59 percent said they texted and 45 percent claimed they sent emails. Digital Spy adds that 25 percent of males reportedly sit down to urinate so they can operate their phones with both hands.
Some respondents explained their toilet phoning was due to the pressures of keeping up with work and their social networks, while others simply “wanted to prevent boredom setting in.” An O2 representative saluted this new “nation of multitaskers,” saying, “it's no surprise that some of our customers are making use of whatever time they have when their hands are free to check-in and stay up-to-date.”
SEPARATION OF RELIGION AND TOILET
It's Marketing 101: When offering toilet-themed goods or services, it's best to keep religion out of the picture.
One hotel in Burgundy, France, didn't get that memo. The Moulin de Broaille is drawing ire all the way from Thailand after installing a toilet seat decorated with the smiling face of Buddha. The bathroom fixture is part of a larger Zen-themed room (photos here), but some Thais don't so much see the vision of a quirky interior designer than the literal pooping on their most enlightened spiritual teacher.
At Knowing Buddha, enraged posters have demanded that the Thai embassy in France take swift action to K.O. this arguably blasphemous crapper. Thailand's domestic government has also dived into the international flusher fray, reports the Bangkok Post:
“These situations are becoming more frequent,” said Nopparat Benjawattananon, director of the National Office of Buddhism, according to the report. “We have to understand that foreigners often think that Buddhism is only a philosophy. We have to help them understand that the Buddha’s image is what Buddhists respect and it cannot be used inappropriately.”
By Monday, the Facebook group “Do and Don’t on Buddha” had reported that the offending seat cover was no longer at the hotel. A site administrator also noted that the manufacturer behind the bathroom Buddha, Olfa SAS, was “accepting our worry and withdrawing the products.”
(Related: A Finnish toilet-paper manufacturer has promised to conduct “more stringent vetting” of the inspirational phrases that mark its product, after bathroom users found rolls of TP imprinted with quotes from the Gospel of Matthew. Said a spokeswoman for Metsa Tissue: “Our intention was to spread love and joy, not religious messages.”)
MEANWHILE, IN JAPAN...
How many Westerners would think, upon being startled by a Japanese squat toilet that suddenly got up and skittered out of the bathroom, that this was just one of the country's high-tech plumbing fixtures? After all, compared to a commode that blocks soccer balls like a goalkeeper and another that's the seat of a fart-powered motorcycle, a toilet on wheels is just about as normal as you can get.
But no, the “Benki Remote Control Japanese Style Toilet” is merely a toy for pranking your dumb friends who aren't immediately suspicious of a lavatory with an antenna. Although it could conceivably be used as a toilet in a pinch: The product cites a weight limit of 400 grams, or about 0.88 pounds. You can test out its load-bearing capacity by ordering one from Strapya World for just $16.30. “Why?” asks the RC toilet's promotional material. “Because, this is Japan. That's why!”