John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Reporting only the most crucial stories in world bathroom news.
Lather your body in Purell before plunging into this week's Toilet Tuesday:
HOLD THE ICE, PLEASE, IN BRITAIN
Order a soda with ice at a British fast-food establishment and you're likely to consume more bacteria than what's in the restaurant's toilet water. That's according to an Cudlipp Award-worthy investigation by the U.K.'s Daily Mail, which found high concentrations of microbes in six out of 10 popular eateries including a Burger King, KFC and McDonald's.
The newspaper obtained samples from both the ice coolers and toilet bowls at restaurants in the town of Basingstoke and submitted them to a laboratory. The ice proved in many cases to be nasty, with up to double the level of bacteria than what's normally floating in drinking water. In the worst case, a Nando's chicken joint had 2,100 organisms per milliliter of ice-water, whereas its toilet water had a relatively minor 1,300 organisms per milliliter.
A couple of the restaurants have already challenged the investigation by the Mail, whose journalistic case won't be helped by its history of questionable ethics. But microbial loads in toilets have proven to be surprisingly low given all that's dumped into them. A 2012 report from a British bathroom-hygiene company found that commodes are cleaner than some of the contents of a women's purse, for example. Meanwhile, while you might not get Ebola by sitting on the john, at least one person has contracted the deadly fever from touching a cellphone, which can harbor 10 times the germs of a typical toilet seat.
SOCCER FANS ARE THE WORST, IN BROOKLYN
A bar owner in Williamsburg is pondering putting cameras into his bathrooms because the scented urinal-cakes keep walking away, reports the New York Daily News.
Chris Keller, who runs the Banter Bar that's popular among “footy fanatics,” made the papers this week for the dubious honor of having not one, but two urinal fresheners stolen since April. These aren't just any pee-cakes, though: The $20 items present the person urinating with a set of goal posts to aim between, leading one of the bar's (female) customers to comment: “Seriously, that is so disgusting. It’s very strange, but it seems to me like a typical soccer guy thing to do.”
These urinal heists are just the latest in a rash of Brooklyn bathroom crime. In April, somebody lifted a wooden toilet seat from the Williamsburg hangout Lighthouse BK. That theft left the owners "frustrated, confused, and with a wider pot to well, you know the bit," writes The Brooklyn Paper. Customers have also taken to shoplifting tampons and toilet paper from a local deli called Frankie's, according to the above News story. “I guess they are desperate,” owner Ann Marie Babino told a reporter. “These are things that you can’t understand.”
IT USED TO TIE THE ROOM TOGETHER, IN MASSACHUSETTS
A once-beautiful rug has been grievously defiled in a liquor store in Rehoboth, a historic town in southeast Massachusetts. If you recognize the suspect in the video below, please contact your nearest glue factory: