CLOSE
Thinkstock
Thinkstock

Where Do You Go to the Bathroom During a Riot?

Thinkstock
Thinkstock

An anonymous reader wrote in to say, During mass demonstrations (such as have been happening in Egypt) in large public areas, where do people go to the bathroom? These things aren't always predicted so that port-a-potties can be strategically placed in the area. Just thought it might be one more terribly uncomfortable thing to think about while protesting.”

According to reporter Sarah A. Topol, who was in Egypt two years ago during the anti-Mubarak demonstrations, logistics issues like finding places for thousands of people to pee aren’t that daunting and protests like these can be home to the occasional “surreal moment of normalcy.” 

[In Tahrir Square] the men have three choices: the metro station (i.e. the submerged sidewalk going to the underground which has been shuttered for over a week), and the bathrooms of two mosques. If you're a woman, there's only one option: the women's section of the square's major mosque. That's also where many women, especially those with children, sleep.

As we entered the mosque, I got a gentle pat down and a soft apology for the inconvenience. Inside, women sit and chat in the dim light. The cool green tiles of the bathroom are a far cry from the open sewer just 10 feet away from the entrance. There are only two working stalls, but they are immaculate.

Medea Benjamin, cofounder of the social justice group CODEPINK, was also in Cairo during the Arab Spring and asked protestors the same thing.

“Where do you go to the bathroom?,” I asked one of the women, as there is not one port-a-potty or bathroom in sight for this sea of people. “We go out to the street, knock on doors and ask to use the facilities. Complete strangers are opening their homes to us,” she answered.

Occupy Wall Street protestors also had to rely on the kindness of strangers and hope that local businesses would let them use the facilities, says Business Insider’s Robert Johnson. They got mixed results. 

Burger King put its foot down and required protesters to make a purchase before using the facilities and enforcing a 20-minute time limit on seating.

McDonald’s has been far more accommodating by allowing anyone off the street to some in and take care of business.

I caught the janitor leaving after his shift and asked him how the group was behaving. He narrowed his eyes, looked me up and down, and finally said "They're cool," before rushing off.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images
arrow
Big Questions
What Are Curlers Yelling About?
WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images
WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images

Curling is a sport that prides itself on civility—in fact, one of its key tenets is known as the “Spirit of Curling,” a term that illustrates the respect that the athletes have for both their own teammates and their opponents. But if you’re one of the millions of people who get absorbed by the sport once every four years, you probably noticed one quirk that is decidedly uncivilized: the yelling.

Watch any curling match and you’ll hear skips—or captains—on both sides barking and shouting as the 42-pound stone rumbles down the ice. This isn’t trash talk; it’s strategy. And, of course, curlers have their own jargon, so while their screams won’t make a whole lot of sense to the uninitiated, they could decide whether or not a team will have a spot on the podium once these Olympics are over.

For instance, when you hear a skip shouting “Whoa!” it means he or she needs their teammates to stop sweeping. Shouting “Hard!” means the others need to start sweeping faster. If that’s still not getting the job done, yelling “Hurry hard!” will likely drive the point home: pick up the intensity and sweep with downward pressure. A "Clean!" yell means put a brush on the ice but apply no pressure. This will clear the ice so the stone can glide more easily.

There's no regulation for the shouts, though—curler Erika Brown says she shouts “Right off!” and “Whoa!” to get her teammates to stop sweeping. And when it's time for the team to start sweeping, you might hear "Yes!" or "Sweep!" or "Get on it!" The actual terminology isn't as important as how the phrase is shouted. Curling is a sport predicated on feel, and it’s often the volume and urgency in the skip’s voice (and what shade of red they’re turning) that’s the most important aspect of the shouting.

If you need any more reason to make curling your favorite winter sport, once all that yelling is over and a winner is declared, it's not uncommon for both teams to go out for a round of drinks afterwards (with the winners picking up the tab, obviously). Find out how you can pick up a brush and learn the ins and outs of curling with our beginner's guide.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
travel
Why You Should Never Take Your Shoes Off On an Airplane
iStock
iStock

What should be worn during takeoff?

Tony Luna:

If you are a frequent flyer, you may often notice that some passengers like to kick off their shoes the moment they've settled down into their seats.

As an ex-flight attendant, I'm here to tell you that it is a dangerous thing to do. Why?

Besides stinking up the whole cabin, footwear is essential during an airplane emergency, even though it is not part of the flight safety information.

During an emergency, all sorts of debris and unpleasant ground surfaces will block your way toward the exit, as well as outside the aircraft. If your feet aren't properly covered, you'll have a hard time making your way to safety.

Imagine destroying your bare feet as you run down the aisle covered with broken glass, fires, and metal shards. Kind of like John McClane in Die Hard, but worse. Ouch!

Bruce Willis stars in 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

A mere couple of seconds delay during an emergency evacuation can be a matter of life and death, especially in an enclosed environment. Not to mention the entire aircraft will likely be engulfed in panic and chaos.

So, the next time you go on a plane trip, please keep your shoes on during takeoff, even if it is uncomfortable.

You can slip on a pair of bathroom slippers if you really need to let your toes breathe. They're pretty useless in a real emergency evacuation, but at least they're better than going barefoot.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios