Paul Plumber

“Shit happens, goes the saying. Technically incorrect. Only a tiny amount, think cholera epidemic, does happen. Happening suggests spontaneous, fast, wild, out of control, right? Of course it does! And that’s not how people move their bowels. Paul, would you mind describing your last occasion, for the sake of helping the class understand? Paul?”

Paul’s mind rushes back from afar. Very joyfully busy picturing himself on a honeymoon with Peter, two rows ahead to the left, profile of a demigod above what must be a superb body ready to be unwrapped from too much cloth, Paul had forgotten about the rest of the world, including this bloody waste of his hard earned cash of a teacher now staring at him with expectant malice. That’s were the sound vaguely identified as relevant must have come from.  

Never lost for words, Paul goes: “Yes, sir?”.

Ending on a question mark usually does the trick. Makes cross costumers spell out. You don’t want to waste time defending the color of a toilet when they’re mad about its height. 

Color complaints, you have to show the customer his online order with the small print stating that colors look different on screen. Takes a while, and skill, to get him to blame his gadget and pay. Height issues, you only need to shrug an go “Norms and standards, need I say more?”.

“Yes, Paul?” goes the teacher, surprisingly well aware of the 101 of efficient full frontal customer interfacing. Might have been a professional, in some earlier life.

A lesser guy would panick, but not Paul. He feels himself winning. He’s good at this, all his team says so. He doesn’t hesitate to elaborate: “Yes, sir? What can I do for you?”.

The class seems to consider his question hilarious. Paul doesn’t mind. A good laugh is always nice to have. The teacher doesn’t laugh, yet, but nor does he look like getting mad. A bit tired, a tad disappointed, not mad. So far, so good.

After a short pause and with a slight raise of one eyebrow, the teacher goes:

“We were contemplating the fact, Paul, that most bowel movements don’t happen spontaneously. They are controlled. We are willing them to occur, or to refrain from occurring. Would you be so kind as to provide an example, from your own personal experience? Where and how do you usually go about your defecating business?”.

Now that’s a nice surprise of a simple task. Paul would have hated one more microbiome question. He’s getting better at naming those apparently vital lodgers of everybody’s bowels, but which of them are good and which bad still eludes him. He’s starting to suspect some of the bugs switch sides, just to make his life complicated. Much easier to tell the class about his when, where and how. Only challenge is how to impress Peter in this context.

Paul is glad to be such a natural born entertainer. A lesser guy would fail at this task, but he never runs short of anecdotes. Using his storyteller voice, Paul goes:

“Well, so glad you asked, sir. Always wondered whether it’s only me, actually. I like to take some light reading along. Depending on mood and season, I’ll vary. Today, I picked the “Biker’s Fortnight”. Fortnight as in two weeks, not as in Fort-n-i-t-e the legacy game…”

Paul was planning to go on describing pictures of a biker outing, guys all dressed up in black leather and bling, to match the chrome of their rides. With a little luck, Peter would share his esthetics, and feel attracted. In a best case scenario, he would even flash the kind of fleeting smile that Paul could use as a conversation starter on their way out.

Not at all does Paul appreciate the teacher cutting in. Instead of letting him proceed with his perfect seduction plan of a story, the brute goes:

“Exactly, Paul, thank you! ‘Legacy’, that’s the word I was aiming for. So much has changed, over the last couple of decades,  in so many aspects of life. But in some areas, we still think inside very old boxes, too lazy to challenge obsolete traditions.

Back in the days of my grandpa, when water fit for washing ourselves, or even drinking, was routinely wasted on flushing away human excrement, it made perfect sense to install defecation infrastructure in the bathroom. Nowadays, no one would dream of spoiling potable water in this way, not least because one ends up in jail faster than one can spell ‘ecovandalism’ for trying.

By the way, never ever do you guys dare fix one of the few remaining old style toilets. Yes, some rich people living in grand old houses are offering excellent cash for this kind of illicit service. Yes, they promise no one will ever find out. But, let me tell you, this never works. Over the long run, all pipes get leaky. You’ve got a better chance to get away with brewing LSD than with fixing a WC. But I’m not here to help you stay out of prison.

Getting back to the point I’m trying to make: Where do we keep installing the toilets that transform our solid waste into fertilizer, as if this was 2010 instead of 2100? We keep installing them inside  individual flats. In the bathroom, more exactly, in that very same spot where grandpa’s version was attached to the plumbing. Absolutely no reason to keep proceeding like this. 

If toilets were invented now, we’d never put them so close to our living quarters, because smells, logistics,… need I say more? Emptying urine bottles into the waste water regenerator, fine and clean, no problem. But no one wants to talk, never mind handle, shit. Much better to commute to dedicated defecation hotspots. The farmers are all in favor, too. Much easier to collect bigger volumes in one central spot than do rounds and rounds for not much.

One dedicated defecation hotspot per neighborhood, nice place, well maintained, with staff keeping things neat and orderly, that’s the modern way. Combine this with some emergency kit at home, just to be on the safe side, and the world will be a better place.

Now, I can practically hear you guys thinking ‘What’s that nonsense he’s talking? Aren’t we supposed to modernize our business and catch up on latest trends by attending this course? Modern days my ass, I’m not giving up thirty percent of my business!’ That’s what you’re thinking, of course. No need to deny it, and you’ve got a point, theoretically. In practice, you lack vision.

You guys, you’re best qualified to set up and own your local defecation hotspots. You go infrastructure and services, guys, and you make serious money. Don’t let some know nothing suits get ahead of you. You’re the experts, you’re best placed to do this…”.

Paul’s mind drifts off once again. He’ll propose to Peter, half jokingly, to hedge his bets, right after class. Not for marriage, of course not. He doesn’t even know for sure that Peter is gay yet. He’ll propose a defecation hotspot partnership. The paperwork is bound to be heavy, the investment to build such premises will be huge, much better to join forces. And later, who knows?

If all goes well, including a police siren approaching fast being meant for someone else, not related to that broken pipe he shouldn’t have touched, even though he really needed that cash, Paul might get himself rich and happily married in one smart move.

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