Taking the piss out of public urination
By Natalie Serafini, Assistant Editor
This doesn’t seem like an issue most people would consistently encounter, but in my lifetime I’ve all too frequently come across people cavalierly—or at least publicly—relieving themselves. That is to say, the number of times I’ve been an unwilling witness is more than zero, and is consequently too damn high.
These unwanted glimpses into the train wreck that is another person dropping trou’ have been seared into my memory and, over time, have caused me to become disdainful of public urination. I can’t say why I’m so against it—everybody poops, or so I’ve read, and everybody pees—but I’ve never been keen to see bodily functions in action.
Sometimes circumstances prevail and make indecent exposure a necessary evil. Gotta pee where there’s no bathroom, you’re among friends, and the thick and leafy bushes are a-calling? Acceptable. Gotta pee on a tree in the middle of urban Vancouver, surrounded by opportunities to con, bribe, or coerce your way to private relief? Considerably less acceptable.
It’s understandable that sometimes “holding it in” is a nearly impossible task. That’s why you find the best possible option that won’t offend the eyes of all those around you. This isn’t Ancient Rome; we don’t sit around like going to the bathroom is a social event. Alternatively, you latch onto the fact that it’s nearly impossible—not actually impossible.
We’re all human, and we’re all aware that a pressing bladder can become a pressing matter. That’s why encountering a situation where there’s no option other than that of public urination is pretty rare. There are road trips where the next gas station isn’t for miles. There are beaches, parks, and lakes that are ill-equipped. The situations in which I’ve encountered public urination—including a drunk exiting a bar to pee in the great wide open, and someone not bothering to hide behind some bushes before popping a very public squat—seem to be bursting with other options.
Bushes, trees, backs of buildings, and public monuments are there for a reason. Not specifically for this reason, but if the shoe fits, wear it. If the bush, building, or public monument shields you from public view when holding it isn’t an option, take advantage. My protests only come into play when I have to witness someone’s emissions. As long as I’m not in the line of fire or directly aware of the transgression, I have no problem with it. I can’t have a problem with it. If you’re doing your business away from me, it’s none of my business.
You may have guessed that this article is largely propelled by the little boy in Richmond who was photographed peeing in a garbage can at a mall, with what one assumes is a mother or grandmother helping him. I find it difficult to fault a little kid, under the tutelage and encouragement of a family member, for public urination. Compounding this, his family is reportedly from a culture in which publicly peeing is the norm. He gets a pardon, with the condition that discretion be of paramount importance in the future.