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  • Kim Van Sandt

Summer Learning Experience II – The ‘Facilities’

This is the second installment of my blog series about what I learned this summer in my new adventure selling my art at outdoor fairs and festivals. A little advance warning for those with weak stomachs or sensitive sense of humor, this will not be pretty. Funny maybe, but in no way pretty…

- I am a fairly brave soul, not one of those no-way-will-I-use-an-outhouse people. The "facilities" I found at various events have proved to be rather, um... interesting.

- I have to say, not all port-a-potties are created alike. Granted, none of them are as nice as a clean indoor restroom but let me frame it positively… I feel I need to express my appreciation to the art & craft event organizers that made sure the temporary facilities were as fresh, supplied, and clean as a port-a-potty can be. So, thank you to the organizers at Alpena’s Art on the Bay, Domain Berrien Cellars Art Wine & Music Festival, and Silver Lake’s Apple & BBQ Festival for the best port-a-potties of the summer! While I wouldn’t suggest you eat off the floor or anything, they were very clean, nice, and as comfy as a port-a-potty can be. And I will spare you the descriptions of those that would not have made the top of the list.

- How do you tell if a port-a-potty is a good one? I learned this, this summer. Simply close your eyes and open the door. The condition will make itself known even before you take a deep breath (which is not advised). Either it will be pleasant, neutral or, well, suffice it to say that it will clearly not be pleasant.

- And the suggestion to close your eyes also comes from experience. The older, more worn out potties may not have good locks or misleading vacancy indicators. And well, since you may have to risk opening the door, better it is with your eyes closed. And better to hear the scream or the apologies than to see… well, you know what I’m getting at. I opened the doors with open eyes twice this summer, and wished they had been closed.

- I was at a variety of venues, fairgrounds, parks and such, and some of them are…. um, different? I have thus far spared showing you pictures, but I had to share one photo for this topic – I think this is the first time I have been in a community style restroom (10 or 12 stalls) with a curtain instead of a door at each. May I just say, curtains might not inspire confidence in their coverage ability? And some of us need a great deal of um... coverage? Interesting. Scary, but interesting. Although I think I decided that flushing benefits outweigh any insecurity that curtains brought.

- I also learned that if the restrooms are in a park, up a hill, make sure you don’t wait until the absolute last minute to go. I’m pretty strong and can climb a hill without too much difficulty, but my aging muscles can sometimes only focus on one thing at a time, and the combination of climbing a hill and waiting too long can become risky if not treacherous?

- I learned to be prepared in this area too. At each event, I try to have a full change of clothes, just in case of any trouble from last minute treacherous slippery or uphill journeys.

- I also learned that your most talkative customer will always be there when you most need to use the port-a-potty.

- But most important of all, I think I learned that almost any port-a-potty is better than no potty.

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