Tuesday, September 12, 2017
I was only there for two summers. I'm sure there were young guys like me who worked there longer, so it's entirely possible I can't claim a place in the Guinness Book of Records. But given the number of pit toilets I cleaned in a my lifetime, I deserve a title. Whatever the number, let it be known henceforth that I scrubbed far, far more than my share because a couple of dozen of privies remained in faithful service at Terry Andrea State Park, where I worked for a couple of summers a thousand years ago.
And those privies had to be cleaned. Daily. Twice even, if park visitors swarmed to the beach. That meant everything too--what was left on the floor and didn't make the target? You bet. When it comes to privies, I'm a vet.
People who spend years spreading thick frosting on cinnamon rolls get so tired of it that all that frosting eventually give them the creeps, I'm told. Hard as that it to believe, it may be true. Ain't no frosting on privies, but, trust me, when it comes to pits, familiarity breeds contempt.
But there's more. I have a special distaste for the ones that need to be cleaned. Like yesterday, at Spirit Mound State Park, where whoever had the job was clearly absent without leave. But yesterday, I had no choice. This facility was the only one anywhere close, even though a forest of giant ox-eyes--see 'em?--offered passable cover in an otherwise treeless prairie.
No matter. The privy it was. When you're almost seventy, once necessity compels, choices diminish in a frenzy--you take what you get, or get to. I went in to that water-less water closet knowing it was a pit, but what's a man to do? Or woman? Not having to sit was a blessing, but being of the male persuasion means peeing into the dark soul of the abyss, which is no blessing either.
To say the least.
But, I'm a veteran, remember. "Many's the time" and all of that. I've scrubbed hundreds, thousands. Men's and women's scrubbed he them. Grit and bear it. What had to be done, had to be done.
Now there's a light switch in this one. Imagine that. If they're going to modernize, why not slip in a septic tank, right? But there's a light. Seriously. Who would want to see? But there on the wall is a switch box with a cord running up and out of the vent atop the sides of the facility.
And behind that electrical cord--a thick one--someone had stuck a gospel tract. I'm not making this up. Right there in the one-holer, there's a little sermon in print in case you're sitting there bored. Or else. . .well the possibilities are too coarse to consider.
I couldn't help it. I thought of my mother. Years ago, she bought a bale of gospel tracts and had a wonderful plan for her family, who by that time were out of the house, hither and yon. Each of us could take a pile and leave them here, there, and everywhere for people to pick up. She was a restroom specialist, too. She must have figured that what goes on right there on the thrones is thoroughly mindless activity. Gospel tracts, like the backs of cereal boxes, fill very real emptiness. Put someone on a toilet, and he/she will look for something to read. It's as natural as, well, you know. My mother would have thought that tract in that pit especially sweet.
I took it. I shouldn't have, but I did. I grabbed it and stuck it in my pocket, and now I can't find it, empty of tract and full of guilt. Somewhere in Clay County, SD, a gentleman, someone likely my age or better, is thinking that a guy never knows what kind of eternal service can be done by an evangelism tract. He leaves them in every last restroom he visits, a kind of investment.
Mom would not have appreciated the privy. She'd probably used a ton of them herself in her childhood years, I'm sure. But she would have loved that tract stuck right there behind that electrical cord, a little gospel tract advertising itself and her Lord. She'd have loved the possibilities.
Let it be known, I left that privy smiling.
Shoulda' left the tract there, however. Someday I'll return it.
Posted by J. C. Schaap at 7:00 AM