Breaking the Pipes

A colleague of mine has recently moved to Beijing from Mongolia, and has started a blog about her experiences transitioning from the countryside of Mongolia to Big Bad Beijing.  It’s called T in Beijing, and it can be found here.  Her first entry is a story about an embarrassing moment at a bathroom (a common location for embarrassing moments in life).  As I read it I was reminded of my own embarrassing moment in a bathroom awhile back.

It took place at a coffee shop in Haidian District in Beijing, near the north gate of a university.  I had gone there to make use of their free wireless connection, since my internet connection at home wasn’t working, for some unknown reason! I’m not a coffee drinker, but I did enjoy  my large coke and popcorn.  After a couple of hours, of course, I needed to find the bathroom.  I was directed downstairs, and when I got there was disappointed to find that it was a "squatty potty."  In principle, I don’t have any problem with them, so long as they are clean (this one was), but my deteriorating knees are never happy to have to do the hard work of getting me down and up.  Basically, they rebel (painfully, I might add), and I can only manage to perform their function so long as I am either bracing my arms against the sides of the stall walls (is this too much information?) or I am hanging on to something.  In this case I was able to grab onto the pipe and hang on for dear life.  Problem was, though, it was a PVC pipe, and as I used the pipe to pull myself up, the pipe just snapped in half!!!  Yikes!! Now what was I going to do?  Not wanting to be on the receiving end of a fountain of water, I opted NOT to flush the toilet (this pipe was coming down from a tank mounted high on the wall).  I decided to get out of Dodge.  I washed my hands, then surreptitiously went upstairs to pack up my things and pay my bill and leave. 

Interestingly, I couldn’t bring myself to return to the restaurant for many many months for fear that I would be fingered as the one who’d broken the pipes.