Don't forget to knock on plastic

By Staff
Kim West
When I was in elementary school, my class took a trip to Franklin, Tenn. to visit the Civil War site of the Battle of Franklin. While we were there, our tour guide showed us a home that had been historically restored from that time period and then asked us if we had any questions.
Instead of thinking about the events of the battle, I had only one thing on my mind after he showed us the outhouse that accompanied the stately house. I wanted to know what people back then did without toilet paper. Instead of laughing at me or ignoring my silly query, he explained that people used Sears Roebuck catalog pages, which made me instantly thankful for Angel Soft.
As a kid or even a teenager, I was never fond of so-called toilet humor but I have learned that laughter is a good way to deal with the unpleasant things in life. I think comedians often use that type of humor because everyone can relate to it.
Most people vividly remember their first car or kiss but how many recall their first encounter with a modern outhouse, better known as a port-a-potty?
According to pollyjohn.com, George Harding was issued the first U.S. patent for a plastic portable restroom about 50 years ago. He is also the reason most portable restrooms are bright blue – that was his favorite shirt color.
There's just something about portable toilets that make me smile. I think my first and only encounter with one was at a county fair, where my sister and I were exhibiting Angus heifers. I'm not a claustrophobic person but that port-a-potty was a little too cozy for my liking, not to mention the other obvious drawbacks.
A few years ago I attended a soccer game with one of my teammates, who asked me to stand watch since the only available portable toilet had a broken lock. I don't know if she has still completely forgiven me for sneaking off and leaving her to fend off the people who kept opening the door. I'll also never forget the scene in "Fathers Day," a Billy Crystal and Robin Williams comedy, when one of the supporting characters was locked in a port-a-potty and pushed down a hill.
I think that combined two of the worst-case scenarios of a port-a-potty – being trapped in one and being in one that tumbles over. Hopefully that is just a movie scene and not something that has happened or will happen, but just in case you might want to knock on plastic.

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