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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Latrine Poetry

for my favorite superhero, Doctrine Man (it's a bird, it's a plane, aw shucks, it's just a sock puppet)

I'm back in the quake zone again and just wandered around the village with some young friends and their parents, and the portaloo is still at the Medical Centre (they spell in British here). Which reminded me . . .

One of many high points of the post-quake week was the arrival of the portaloo.

First there was the sound of a chopper, which in Aotearoa, and especially on a harbor, usually means a rescue mission. So we stepped outside to look. What we saw was so astounding I forgot to take a photograph. There, dangling beneath the copter and swinging in the wind was a portaloo. We watched it fly by, shook our heads and calculated how many portaloos could have been trucked in for the same cost as the avgas required and guessed you might have been able to afford to keep the truck as well. We also wondered how many more might arrive.

None. The rotored portaloo was for the medical center, and the doctor was a little embarrassed by how it arrived but the New Zealand Air Force (do we have an air force?) tasked it as a medical emergency and the NZ Armed Forces (similar question) saw it as a great PR opportunity. "Join the Air Force, Make Shit Fly!"

I was told that, as the chopper zoomies hovered before landing said latrine, all the non-urgent workers in the medical center and surrounding area stood outside with legs tightly crossed. I didn't see that myself.

Fast forward to a morning later where I am waving down cars and giving them updated information that Civil Defence wouldn't allow me to post to its Web site, and I realize I'm talking to the doctor and ask him about a minor wound I have. He insists I come to have it checked out so I end up in the Medical Centre before it's even open and eavesdropping on the doctor and nurse. It's still only days after the big quake and he lives in central Christchurch, and is very pleased with himself that he managed to find a Chinese and Chip shop open the previous night.

He announces to the nurse that he's going to visit the facilities.

He comes back, shocked. "Someone's had a horse in there!" he tells her. Ahhhh, he's a city boy.

His next comment: "Those bloody neighbors have been using it, haven't they?"

I couldn't help myself: "It's not like you snuck it in quietly," I said.

The doctor doesn't like me much either.

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