Sunday, March 27, 2011

River of Poo

This weekend was a busy one, but I won't let myself go to bed without first telling you about the river of poo.

The boys' restrooms at my school are pits of filth and anguish on par with that scene in Slumdog Millionaire. If the squat toilets happen to be working, the plumbing can only do so much to mask the smells of all that goes on within those walls.

So, it's not uncommon to take a suffocating whiff of something decidedly fresh and fecal as soon as one crosses the threshold. On Friday, I crossed said threshold to meet the familiar funk head-on, but I was there with a purpose. It wasn't a surprise to step in a bit of water as the bathrooms are routinely hosed-down each day. It wasn't a surprise either to see a cleaning ajuma in rubber boots and rubber gloves standing in one of the boys' open-door cubicles, wielding a toilet plunger as that is part of their job, but it was a bit of a surprise to have her point a dripping plunger at me and hear her yell "DONG!"

I froze in my tracks and she yelled it again: "DONG! DONG! Dong- isuh-yo!" - which roughly translates as "SHIT! SHIT! There is shit!" And there, shit was - floating right into my shoe and spinning away in an eddy toward the central drain - little pieces of it, like toy boats in a creek.

I think I said "Oh!" before backing out and making by way up to the restroom on the third floor.

And so, if you ever find yourself wondering why Koreans never fail to cringe when you leave your shoes on when you come into the house, just remember the likelihood that they have all experienced such things, and perhaps as recently as today.

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