Dashing into Victoria Station I was desperate to make a connection between London and Oxford, and between my digestive and their sewage system. The latter dominated despite involving only part of my body because these connections weren’t commutative. Which is to say, if I didn’t make the connection to Oxford in time, it wasn’t going to ruin the sewage system for everyone else.
Hunting through the station I found a fast food burrito place, so they were legally required to have a toilet. That’s just cause and affect. I think the legal term is casus belly: if they’re allowed to push reheated organic matter through warm tubes they have to deal with the consequences. My accelerated penguin-waddle found the toilets, and that’s where I suffered the greatest indignity an adult can face while still making it to the public toilet in time: being forced to pay.
London Victoria is the second busiest terminus in the country, and they’re trying to tax our busiest terminii too. The toilets were armored with the turnstiles of shame. Cash tribute was demanded to defecate, which is optimistic at the best of times – based on every public transit station I’ve ever visited, you’d think they’d pay the patrons to use proper receptacles instead of the rest of the station. If your entire function is “keeping people waiting and filling them with coffee”, outflow facilities isn’t an optional extra, they’re the most basic necessity. But harvesting cash from those does seem to be the recent British trend.
Paying a large company for the privilege of reducing their mopping bills philosophically offends me, but for the first time I couldn’t simply step over the stiles, as even that much extra stress on my colon would have rendered the fee moot.
(You’re always entirely safe stepping over the stiles, as any staff paid to guard toilets are not paid enough to deal with an urgent case of diarrhea. Because if they try to collar you, it’s definitely diarrhea – just shout it as you sprint to a stall and explain through the toilet door that you’ll be delighted to pay as soon as you’re finished, but had no coins, an urgent need, and decided to later get change instead of having to change.)
All of which reveals the worst part of this poo-fare: bullying old people. They’re not after the young, they’re extorting money from those too infirm to ignore those shitty charges. If you were in a pub and saw someone refusing to let an old man go to the toilet until he paid a toll, you’d call the police. They’re definitely motivated by evil because they want 30p. Did they find that too many people actually had 10 or 20 pence pieces, so they decided to demand both to increase the odds of an urgent shortage of change? If nothing else I hope this 30p is applied as a rebate on those burritos.
The final insult is when you pay the fee and face signs inviting ladies and gentlemen to move on. No lady or gentleman has never been made to pay to shit in public. That is the exact opposite of every definition of nobility. Even the proletariat were never forced to fork over money for this for fear of starting a revolution. They view your output into a natural resource they can harvest for profit. They’ve turned your colon into a coal mine.
As I sat on the thoughtful throne, I realized it was another application of the evils of corporation cash-extraction. They don’t make you fight them directly, because the very second people are realize on this visceral a level that it really is us vs corporations, they’ll all cease to exist. Instead they make us fight our own finer urges. You can’t be a dick to minimum wage call center worker, because they hate the corporation more than you do. But the fact they can endure – an endurance which helped humanity survive millennia of awfulness to take over the planet – is now being stolen along with our lives and that planet to make them money.
Likewise the tolled-toilet is taking us hostage with our own decorum. They’re inverting our dignity, setting it up so that our own self-respect makes us pay to poo. We must break through this trap if we’re to end the trend of every basic need being charged for. We must show them what it means to prevent people from going to the toilet. And we have everything we need to fight back: all we need do is bath these turnstiles in ammonium disdain, bury them in our stinking contempt, and before long they’ll all be gone.
And then the same strategy will work on the bastards selling the NHS.