#AtoZChallenge: “J” is for JOHN

45 Comments#AtoZChallenge 2014, History, Humour, Life, Travel, Writing/Blogging
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Day 10: April 11


noun Slang. (North American)

cartoon toilet

There’s a couple of other slang meanings, but today, I’m talking about toilets, specifically public ones in various countries. Speaking of various countries, each one has its own vernacular:



lavatory, bathroom, loo, gents or ladies, (British informal) bog (slang),
can, john (slang, mainly US & Canadian),

head (nautical, slang), throne (informal) closet, privy, cloakroom (British),
urinal, latrine, washroom, powder room, ablutions (military, informal),
crapper **(slang), dunny, bogger, brasco (Australian / New Zealand, slang),
water closet, khazi (slang), pissoir (French), outhouse, public convenience,
ladies’ room, little boy’s room, little girl’s room (informal),

** Named after Thomas Crapper, a plumber, who contrary to popular belief did NOT invent the flush toilet, but he did improve the design.

I remember back in the 1960’s in Germany, most public bathrooms were pay toilets. Each door had a slot to put in your 10 Pfennig. If you didn’t have any change, then what?! There may or may not have been an attendant on duty and if not, you had to beg from strangers. Not sure whether or not this practice is still in effect because we didn’t encounter any pay toilets last fall. Hopefully not!

gotta pee
Image Credit

When we were touring Ephesus in Turkey (same trip), there was also a charge to use the bathrooms. Big difference was you paid a live person and they could make change.

Women: Have you ever tried to pee, (never mind anything else!) using only a hole in the floor? One thing for sure; you will need good aim! Easy enough for men, of course. I first encountered one of these old-fashioned toilets at the Milan, Italy train station in 1968. Thankfully, Italy has become more modern in the meantime and those toilets are not as prevalent anymore.

squatter toilet
Squat Toilet
[Wiki Commons]

Had to use another one of these last September, during our tour of the Hanging Monasteries in Meteora, Greece. Thankfully, most of the Greek toilets were of the modern style, but there was a serious shortage of toilet paper at many of the public attractions. Best to take your own. One other quirk; it seems the plumbing system isn’t up to the task because we often encountered signs to not throw toilet paper in the toilet. Imagine that! Bins were provided for that purpose, but they didn’t always have lids. Rather off-putting!

no paper in toilets
Photo Credit

As you saw previously in the Ephesus post, toilets go way back to ancient times:
ephesus toilets

A little comic relief: 😀

Do you have any unique toilet experiences you’d like to share?

Looking forward to your comments!

atozbanner 2014

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Debbie D.
Canine Innkeeper in suburban Toronto, Canada, known as "The Doglady". Writer/website owner, photographer, animal lover, music fanatic, inveterate traveller. History, literature and cinema buff. Eternal "hippie/rockchick". Binational, German/Canadian and multilingual. Looking for the next adventure!
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45 thoughts on “#AtoZChallenge: “J” is for JOHN

  1. I believe it was in Croatia where I first encountered a squat toilet which rather shocked me as I had never seen one before. I’m glad I only had to use it to pee. 😉 <3

    1. Oh yes and me too! 🙂 Hard to believe there are still some around in this day and age. 🙂 Thanks for reading this post from last year, Elly.

  2. Oh yes, those toilets in foreign countries… we knew, so we always packed toilet paper and germ gel. And, I was thankful I was in good enough physical condition I can squat and balance and pee at the same time!! I took it as part of the local “color” (scents?), and bemusedly watched other travelers be quite distraught at the conditions. Hey! When in Rome ….

  3. Whenever we watch a movie and there’s a toilet joke I always tell my husband, “this one was written by a man!” He insists that women joke about toilets, too. Looks like he won this one! Funny post!

  4. I remember camping once with another couple and the other girl dropped her purse down the outhouse hole. She was hysterical and the two guys had to fish it out. Not a pretty sight.

    1. Yup; so many regional slang words. 🙂 The more I travel, the more I appreciate our modern plumbing. Thanks for visiting, Joyce.

  5. Haha! Cute one, Debbie. What a fun topic! I do remember some pretty icky toilets on my travels in Italy where we had to do the old squat routine, feet on either side of the big drain. Flushing toilets are a great modern convenience, and still fairly modern for many folks. Our poor parents had to use chamber pots or go to outhouses in the cold Canadian winter with only an Eaton’s catalogue for tp. PS. hope your spam detector lets me post this comment. LOL!

    1. I guess I’ve been spoiled. 🙂 Grandparents and parents all had indoor plumbing. I do remember chamber pots in a couple of European B&Bs, back in the 1960s. As long as you type more than 6 words and stay on site for more than 30 seconds, you won’t be considered a spam bot, Cathy. 😉

  6. In a country like India it is actually quite a serious issue, given the fact that so many houses in villages still lack proper toilets. There is actually much debate in India surrounding this issue of making affordable toilets available in villages, especially because of the impact of this simple measure on women’s health and safety. But then given the size of India’s population the other related issue is the consumption of water. I have also read somewhere that much research is going on developing toilets that consume very little water. And the squat toilet is actually still very common in India, in fact I prefer to use those kinds in public spaces because they are more clean and hygienic. Trust me on that one 🙂 And they are also supposed to be better for many other health related reasons!

    1. Interesting insights about toilets in India, Beloo. I guess if you’re used to using the squat toilets, they aren’t so bad, but those are unknown here. Would need more practice to be comfortable. LOL Thanks for visiting.

    1. LOL You never know what the toilets are going to be like in foreign countries, Lyd. Welcome to The Den and thanks for commenting. 🙂

  7. Thank you, Debbie….That was very, uh…shall we say enlightening…I almost fell off my chair. The laugh was much needed.
    I wonder if Milano has improved their plumbing system yet…I, too, experienced that kind of “toilet” in Milano (well, really Lodi, but it’s the same thing) It was a communal toilet outdoors, but everyone in the apartment complex where it was located had to use it (none in the apartments,); they forgot to mention the lack of toilet paper. Heck, no sponge, either… rolling my eyes.

    1. I thought you might be familiar with the Milano toilets, Mary. 🙂 Your experience sounds even worse though. I always carry kleenex with me for these “no paper” emergencies.

  8. Aah! The toilets! My main concern when I am traveling! Very informative and very humorous post, Debbie 😀
    This reminds me of a TV program we saw on Travel and Living about a toilet themed restaurant in Japan! Diners sit on toilet-shaped seats and eat at tables made by putting glass over the top of a bathtub. Napkins? Well you will have to grab one from the toilet roll dispenser on the wall!! 😐 Very imaginative!

    1. Yes, toilets are definitely a topic for concern when travelling. That Japanese restaurant sounds like fun. 🙂 Thanks for visiting.

  9. Hahaha oh my God ROFL… The video is hilarious 😀 in India it’s still pay and use toilets, but beware !! Relieve yourself only in a mall…

    1. Those squat toilets are still fairly common in certain parts of the world. Thankfully, not where I live. LOL Thanks for visiting. 🙂

  10. Whenever I go out I’m petrified at the thought of the kind of toilets that would be there in the places…It’s something that makes my entire system go Topsy turvy!

    1. LOL I sort of felt like that in Greece! 😀 Thankfully, here in Canada, the plumbing is usually good, except for the odd gas station on the back roads.

  11. A whole post on toilets! Loved the humor…here in my town, there is a museum that displays largest collection of variety of toilets and it’s evolution over the years.

  12. A very important topic Debbie. Clean public facilities must be available. No one will mind paying a nominal charge to use maintained toilets with sufficient supply of water, soap etc. I have heard of a World Toilet Organisation.

  13. Oh my!! LOL I can’t imagine trying to pee in that hole in the ground! I probably would fall over and pee on myself! LOL Your post made me get the giggles. Loved the pictures.

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