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dalepetrie's avatar

Is there something about California culture that precludes people from flushing public toilets?

Asked by dalepetrie (18002points) February 20th, 2011

OK, so I’m in San Diego right now, I’ve been here about a day and a half, and almost every single public toilet I’ve used has still had urine in it. It occurred to me that where I live (St. Paul, MN) and the many other cities I’ve visited in the US, this is at best an occassional occurrence, certainly not something which happens more often than not. In fact, most places I’ve been, even when on vacation in very touristy areas (where let’s face it, people aren’t known for being as conscientious as they would be at home), it’s not even a daily occurrence to come across an unflushed toilet.

It also occurred to me that 3 years ago, I went to San Francisco, and noticed the same thing, in fact on a couple occassions it wasn’t just urine I encountered left behind. I also happened to be in the rest room at La Jolla beach today for an extended period of time blow drying my son’s pants after he waded a bit too far into the ocean without a suit, and I saw a guy enter a stall, come out several minutes later, and not even rinse his hands much less wash them.

So, I’m just wondering, is there some cultural thing…California is so laid back that people just don’t sweat the small stuff, and to them, a lot more falls under the category of “small stuff”? Is it some failing of the public health and/or education systems to imbue a sense of good hygeine to its residents? Is it a function of the relative wealth of the area, wherein so many I’ve encountered seem to be able to afford a team of servants to flush their toilets for them? Is it a conservation issue…an “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” mindset, perhaps? Maybe there’s just a lot of assholes around, residents, tourists or otherwise?

Thoughts?

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16 Answers

FutureMemory's avatar

A lot of homeless people that live in coastal cities in California essentially live at the beach. Many of them are alcoholics or mentally unstable as well – I can only assume that when you’re a filthy homeless drunkard, you might not be as conscientious about others when it comes to public facilities, especially if you consider them ‘yours’. Where I live, the homeless that live near the beach can be very aggressive towards non-homeless.

dalepetrie's avatar

That makes a certain sense, thanks!

zenvelo's avatar

After some pretty serious droughts in the last 35 years, many Californians know not to flush for urine. It is a waste of water!

The not washing after is a different matter. It’s why I won’t touch a door handle in public if i can avoid it, I always use a paper towel.

FutureMemory's avatar

I think another aspect is that sometimes it becomes a vicious circle – you’re in a public bathroom that might be a little funky, so you think to yourself This bathroom is gross, why touch anything in here that I don’t absolutely have to? Since it’s a public bathroom it must be maintained by the city, so I know someone will eventually come clean it up…I don’t want random public cooties… <walks out innocently, whistling a little tune>.

ratboy's avatar

They know where their hands have been.

lillycoyote's avatar

If it’s brown flush it down, if it’s yellow let it mellow.

That might be the philosophy at issue here.

It’s possibly about water conservation; damn hippies!

Bellatrix's avatar

I was just going to post that @lillycoyote. After 10 years of drought that was the message we were given in Qld. We had to keep our water usage under a certain level and not flushing every time was one practice that was advised.

cazzie's avatar

I lived on the East Coast on New Zealand during a draught and we had to seriously reuse our water. Absolutely no lawn watering and they asked us to collect our washing water in a bucket to pour it down our toilets instead of flushing. There’s also a promotion to ‘pee in the shower and save a flush’. I’d say it’s a water conservation habit.

As for men not washing their hands…. men with unhygienic habits have no borders.

ucme's avatar

I’m not going to be pleased at seeing some “California raisins” floating atop the pissing bowl. Ewwwww! :¬(

TexasDude's avatar

You’ve clearly never been to Alabama.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I agree with @zenvelo, I’m a Californian raised on the if it’s yellow, let it mellow mode but not washing hands is ick.

Kardamom's avatar

One of my friends who often traveled to Mexico and other south of the border countries told me that in those countries, the toilets are not very reliable and that the toilet paper is never put into the toilet (they put it in the trashcan) and then, they themselves, do not flush the toilet, they have attendants who do the flushing. Maybe that is because the attendants are also the people who have to solve the bad plumbing problems when they occur, which apparently is often.

There are a lot of immigrants in California from all sorts of south of the border countries, so that is what I suspect is what is happening. It is gross and maybe they need to put signs inside the stalls in other languages that explain what to do (put paper in the toilet and flush).

dalepetrie's avatar

No “presents” left behind for me today at Legoland or Seaport Village. Thanks for the lively discussion all!

Bellatrix's avatar

Hi Cazzie – off topic I know but I hope your family are okay and not affected by the earthquake. Our Kiwi cousins are much in the thoughts of us Aussies across the Tasman.

cazzie's avatar

Thanks, @Mz_Lizzy . I got messages this morning my time (I’m in Norway) and I still need to hear from one family so I’m holding my breath.
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/front-page-top-stories/news/article.cfm?c_id=698&objectid=10708076

VenusFanelli's avatar

There have been droughts in San Francisco that resulted in water shortages. People were told not to flush urine to save water. “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down”. This was the message on some signs.

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