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There’s a scene toward the beginning of Trainspotting, where Ewan McGregor’s character really needs to take shit. Like, really, really needs to go, so he stumbles into the first bathroom he can find and thinks:
I fantasize about massive pristine convenience. Brilliant gold taps, virginal white marble, a seat carved from ebony, a cistern full of Chanel no.5, and a flunky handing me pieces of raw silk toilet roll.
But instead ends up in…
It’s an upsetting scene (not as upsetting as what comes later in the film, but upsetting nonetheless) and we can all sympathize. When using a public restroom, what is there to do but hope for the best and prepare for the worst?
Well, there’s a group of people who take public restrooms a tad more seriously than the rest of us, and for some reason, there’s a surprising number of YouTube channels devoted to reviewing public toilets.
This is somewhat odd, but not totally unexpected. After all, what isn’t there a YouTube channel about? There’s a guy who has a whole channel devoted to pouring molten copper on things, so why not a channel about public toilets?
I mean, of all the hobbies you can pick, it’s a little strange that that’s your thing, but we all need something to distract us from the inevitability of death. To each his own. In a way, it’s kind of a public service.
The thing is the videos are weird, even given that they are videos of dudes filming themselves flushing toilets.
For one thing, they are all eerily the same. In a lot of them, there’s no talking—just a guy breathing and then flushing a toilet.
You know, because the real toilet-heads out there don’t need narration. They can tell from the flush exactly what’s going on.
Then there’s the thumbs up. That seems to happen in most of these videos.
The normal routine is:
- Walk into public restroom.
- Make sure no one is around.
- Lock yourself in a stall.
- Get some closeups of the brand names.
- Flush that bad boy twice.
- Give a thumbs up.
- Get out of there like you just murdered someone.
Then there are the descriptions. (These guys are just way too into toilets.)
This toilet is AMAZING!!!!! This toilet has an AMAZING FLUSH!!!!! This video was filmed at a warehouse.
OK Dave and he we are the tiny tots village really decent Find. Its got my favourite pan 90s shires supalines and also 80s magnias. The basins maybe the late 70s to early 80s. Also they have shelrad doulton urainals and Sandringham urainals as well.
This is in a social club. A good old 60s royal doulton ashton. What please me as well is the cubicle has the same tiles as Briar way. Decent flush and Not a bad find.
Yeah that’s the other thing. It’s all about the flush. Sure a toilet might get a few points for style.
But if the flush isn’t on point, you can forget about getting a full thumbs up.
In a way, it’s nice that these guys could create this strange, little community for themselves. They comment on each other’s videos, talk about their favorite toilets, and perhaps even throw parties where they get together and share war stories about being questioned by the police. Maybe there’s even a support group for their befuddled girlfriends (just kidding, there’s no way these dudes have girlfriends).
By the way, if you’re reading this and feel like you’ve finally found a hobby that really speaks to you, make sure to check out “Smoogie’s Public toilets of the year awards 2015.” The flush on that vintage TWVford is to die for.
David Britton is a writer and comedian based in Rhinebeck, New York who focuses on internet culture, memes, and viral news stories. He also writes for the Hard Times and is the creator of StoriesAboutWizards.com.