There was a sticker in my urinal yesterday.  

I’m not entirely surprised to see random things in a urinal.  In fact I usually don’t give it much thought.  Cigarette butts are almost a given.  Those little pink moth ball smelling discs wrapped in a plastic . . . sure.  I’ve even recently seen toilets filled with ice accompanied by a sign that assures me that by using a urinal with ice in it I am saving the equivalent of three rainforests.  That one actually makes me feel good.  I’m mean, I’m no environmental hero or anything but I like to do what I can.

The sticker just made me laugh.

It said “here”.

It was a target.  They put a target in the toilet.  That’s funny.

It’s also a little bit brilliant considering that this is a problem that has plagued restrooms across the globe for centuries.  Very few little boys have not been called away from their video games back into the bathroom by their slightly more than irritated mother to receive step by step instructions in toilet etiquette and post usage clean up.  Let’s be honest.  Very few marriages have been spared that same tutorial.

It’s a legitimate and apparently universal problem.  So much so that there is an entire industry created around it.  Ingenious minds have racked their engineering brains inventing and reinventing the most perfectly contoured porcelain and the most practical splash guard accessories to solve the problem.  Even the poets have attacked the issue with poignant works like:

“If you sprinkle when you tinkle,

Be a sweetie, wipe the seatie.”

I think that was Emily Dickinson.  Or Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  Pretty sure it was a woman.

And now.  Problem solved.

All it took was a tiny little, brightly colored, liquid proof sticker that says, “here.”

At least that’s what they want you to think.  The reality here is much, much darker and I’m onto them.

Follow me here.

It didn’t even occur to me at first that the sticker was in English.  English is all around in China so no surprise there but English is generally a translation of Chinese and even though translations are getting progressively better, bathroom translations are notoriously and most often hilariously bad.  In fact, in the exact same public restroom on the door to the Western toilet (if you don’t know what a Western toilet is then it’s probably the one you would call normal) was this sign that read, “Squatting Pan.”

“Squatting Pan.”

I want this sign to hang on my bathroom and if I find it I will buy it in bulk to sell it online.  Ten bucks and you too can have one for your home.

But the sticker just said, “here.”

No Chinese.  No translation.  Just, “here.”

If there had been a translation, they surely would have employed the standard bathroom English translators and it would have read something like, “Stream arrive thusly” or “Preventing unfortunate puddle radius.”

But it didn’t.  It just said, “here”, in perfectly understandable, non-overstated English and no Chinese.

Do you realize what this means?!!

They think that the foreigners are the ones making all the mess!!  Obviously the Chinese men don’t need a target but the English speaking outsiders have a serious problem.  There must have been councils formed and city planning meetings to discuss this.  Meetings where an actual item of business was what to do about the foreign men in public restrooms.

I’m trying to imagine what might happen if, in my hometown, which is less than 2% Hispanic, the city park put up a sign that said “no littering” but it was only in Spanish.  Automatic grounds for a racial profiling suit.

I’m not sure they have racial profiling suits here so I’m choosing to let it slide but you can be sure that I left the restroom more paranoid than I went in.  Were they talking about me? Rolling their eyes? Did the maintenance man get on his walkie talkie and say, “yeah we just had a foreigner come out of the East side men’s room.  We’re gonna’ need a clean up crew. Over.”

Ok.  I didn’t actually think all of those things but it was the funniest thing I’ve seen in a toilet all week.  Which is why I thought it was worth and blog post . . . and the risk of someone walking in while I was snapping a picture . . . of the urinal.

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