11 June 2015

The Phenomenon of the Peeing Man

I'm originally from a very rural part of the US where, if I saw a car pulled over to the side of the road, I tended to look carefully to see if the person needed help. (Because God knows when another car will be passing by.)

You guys ok there?

In England, if I saw a car on the side of the road, I generally looked closely because, well, when the road is so narrow that you can't squeeze past, what else are you supposed to do?

I am now trying to teach myself that if I see a car parked by the side of the road in the Czech Republic, the new reaction should be to look away, goddamnit, woman, look away!

To not look away means that 9 times out of 10 you end up gawking at some stranger's dick.

(A little crude, I know - apologies, parents - but on the list of things I like to see on my morning commute, surprisingly, strangers' penises are not included).

This phenomenon of the roadside peeing man is unusually pervasive. All makes of cars, from rusted Skodas to freshly-waxed BMWs seem to have the potentiality to carry a roadside pee-er. What's more, most of them-what-pee-along-the-road seem to think that peeing towards the road is a necessary part of the procedure.

Toddlers are included in the culturally acceptable peeing group and their rights seem to extend pretty much everywhere. When we first moved to the Czech Republic, I was bemused during a visit to the Zoo to come around a corner and find a collection of ten toddlers merrily peeing on the grass while watching the hippopotamuses.

However, interestingly, women don't seem to be included in the societal acceptability of roadside relief. And it's possible that this is due to a misconception about basic reproductive biology.

I had a student last year demand that I let him leave the room during a big exam because he needed to pee. I explained that if he did that, he wouldn't be able to finish the test because my policy was that students can't leave the room during an exam.

This was an egregious assault on his basic human rights, he told me.

Furthermore, he said, vibrating with indignation, 'You have no idea what it's like because you're a WOMAN.'

Notes to self: stop looking at cars parked along the side of the road, you overly helpful fool. And try not to laugh mirthlessly at the things students say - this is quite possibly another human rights violation. 

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