The Pink Plastic Privy
December 2, 2011
Before I started to design a wooden outhouse to match my workshop I did a quick Internet search to get an idea of the commercial market. Modern portable toilets are self-contained, cleaned by someone else with specialized equipment, and familiar to everyone. It made sense to look into buying one and having it pumped a couple of times per year if the price proved reasonable.
I called around, speaking with a variety of nice women who seemed to share a great sense of humour. “We don’t have any for sale, but we get calls for them all of the time. If you can find a used one, grab it. We’ll be happy to service it.”
A little further afield, Smart Toilet Rentals in Manotick had a few at what seemed like a reasonable price.
The woman on the phone spoke with a lilting French-Canadian accent: “The only problem is that, while they were brown at first, they have now faded to a salmon colour…. sort of pink, actually. We don’t send them out any more, but they are in perfect condition, apart from the fading. We have four of them; you can take your pick.”
She turned out to be an attractive woman in her mid thirties, as pleasant to talk to in person as on the phone. We toured outhouses in the vast storage lot. She would open a door, check discreetly to see if the unit had been cleaned, and if so, show it to me. Apparently the staff in the garage are a bit undisciplined: in a storage area with a hundred or so toilets, what are the odds that someone would make a regular habit of visiting the first one we considered? Then one was clean, but a bit scraped. Another had a warped door, and then came the pick of the litter, so to speak. But someone had filled it with tools. Apparently storing tools in the units is also a no-no.
So owner Steve Kunca came out and emptied the tools, hinges, screws, jacks and pop-rivets out of my new privy. We tipped it over onto the trailer and I tied it down.
I kinda wondered about the protocol for the completion of the sale: do sewage workers shake hands? Remembering my friend Les Parrott’s rule for concluding a polite business transaction, I extended my sullied hand to Steve and he shook it. Deal completed.
This double-walled classic model weighs more than the newer units. It came with its own moulded plastic foundation, for example, and a solid vinyl door of some heft.
On the trailer it towed fine down the highway to Smiths Falls and into the Bank of Montreal parking lot. I had run out of cash. Nobody was rendered aghast by its presence in the financial district on a Friday afternoon. Mind you, it was a quiet day.
Upon its arrival at the farm Bet remarked that the colour is not pink, but beige, and not at all inappropriate as a match for the pastels of the garage. She nonetheless still insisted that we locate the new facility out of sight of the house.
My wife’s big worry is that someone will see the privy from the road, and that before long there will be a lineup of frazzled strangers waiting to use it. To be safe we backed it up to the end of the Ranger shed shaded by large cedars. It’s out of sight there yet will have easy access to electricity for a light.
We’ll see how it gets along in that location when the snow comes.
Tuesday, 6 December, 2011
I couldn’t leave it alone. Turns out there’s a lot about portable toilets on the Net. I found a review of my particular model: built to last in St. Louis, very heavy and sturdy, not the easiest to clean because of minor imperfections on the interior walls. A comprehensive catalogue was there for downloading. Then I discovered that Steve had all of the parts in stock and doled them out to me with embarrassing generosity.
He actually took my questions seriously about providing an electric light to the privy, and suggested one of the gray, weatherproof utility boxes to hold the light. With the double walls on this model I should be able to screw the box and light into place if I am halfway careful. So now I get to do another wiring job.
After I put a crushed-limestone foundation down for it.