【世界廁所日】黑‧洞 | 台灣環境資訊協會-環境資訊中心

【世界廁所日】黑‧洞

一位外籍人士眼中的台灣廁所

2009年11月19日
作者:Syko Song(美籍韓裔台灣女婿);編譯:Tracy

2008年世界廁所日街頭行動。照片來源:世界廁所組織編者前言:您或許不知道,世界上除了世界貿易組織以外,還有一個WTO組織稱為世界廁所組織(World Toilet Organization);而今天,正是聯合國所推動的世界廁所日(World Toilet Day),希望在每年的11月19日,重視人類有使用良好的衛生設施這項基本權利。本報邀請一名外籍人士,反思台灣的廁所文化……

當我關上身後的門,心裡湧現的罪惡感與沮喪,遠大過於廁所裡的強烈惡臭。這種事肯定不是第一次發生,如同我當下短暫的厭惡情緒,卻是重演得太過頻繁。每次演變成同樣事件時,我可以在腦海裡想像清潔工用無聲的言語說「天啊...又來了,你們這些人到底在想些什麼?」

是的,我承認把馬桶徹底堵塞的確令我感到抱歉,但是,對於無能的抽水馬桶沖不了簡簡單單的幾張衛生紙,更令我火冒三丈。或許對台灣當地來說,把用過的衛生紙,不管是使用面朝上朝下然後丟到角落的垃圾桶,就像是外國人把用過的衛生紙丟到馬桶沖掉一樣天經地義。但是自從我來到台灣,從來沒有人教過我這外國人如廁的正確禮儀。沒錯,我看到了牆角通常不加蓋也不怎麼乾淨的垃圾桶,沒錯,我也實在不太受得了悶濕氣候與排泄物加起來的惡臭,但是,我絕對相信我不是第一個犯下這種謀殺馬桶的滔天罪犯。

一開始我會責怪我自己對台灣無力沖廁系統的無知,但真不敢相信有誰會這樣設計一個如此無用的馬桶?台灣製造的馬桶難道不需通過一次沖走8個乒乓球的國際標準沖廁測試嗎?

我為自己辯護的態度並不會與多數美國人有何不同。在美國,人們更關心的是廁所是否芳香宜人及找到柔軟度高又適合擦拭的衛生紙,馬桶本身從來不會有沖不掉東西的疑慮。於是在台灣屬於少數族群的我,開始質問自己對於當地如廁禮儀的過程,審視自己態度上與使用上另一種想法。愚蠢的是,我花了將近兩年時間與無數次參訪公廁,才恍然大悟了解到靜置在旁的垃圾桶用途與台灣的正確化妝室禮儀。隨著了解不同風俗民情,突然發現單是從「丟棄衛生紙」來講,就有不同做法與思維。於是,我開始研究台灣與美國兩地的人民,對馬桶文化衍生出來的態度與行為。在這和大家分享我所觀察到的狀況。

像把口香糖或煙屁股隨手丟到馬桶裡的小動作,全世界皆然,不過在國外比較隨性的人,也會把用過的牙線、棉花棒或是保險套直接丟到馬桶裡。事實上,只要能眼不見為淨的話,對大多數人來說,馬桶和垃圾桶的功用其實分不太出來。

除了馬桶本體的設計舒適與沖水量及音量的要求外,也越來越多浴廁使用壓縮空氣原理,在壓縮槽內製造渦輪沖刷的馬桶,比一般單純沖水馬桶更有效率。所以,我們對「投入馬桶之物」與「馬桶」互動關係最重要的見解,主要不外乎是否可以把所有東西沖得一乾二淨。一般來說,在國外很多人潛意識裡相信馬桶就如史帝夫霍普金理論裡的黑洞,只要輕輕按下沖水把手,容器裡的所有東西,就像是被外星怪獸吸入遙遠的異次元外太空,飛灰煙滅。

這或許解釋了在電影或現實裡,看到黑道毒梟遇到警方臨檢時,總是從容到廁所內,把毒品沖到馬桶裡毀屍滅跡。所以,學乖的警察現在總先把供水系統強行關閉然後再神勇的破門而入。

或許以下新聞讓你覺得毛骨悚然或不可思議,但在美國偶爾就會有不知道怎麼做叉燒包的冷血凶手把屍體支解後,一塊一塊沖到馬桶裡。或者受不了家暴與外遇的太太,心一橫的把丈夫命根子一刀剪下,沖入馬桶付諸東流。我們可以看到不同人對廁所與馬桶這個私密空間不同的運用與定義。(註: 這是多年前美國真人真事,結果沖掉部分有找回來。這位先生花了大筆錢把受傷部位修補並接長後,變成了真槍實彈A片演員,影片大賣,順便也把醫藥費賺了回來)

網路上也有記錄影片,實驗飛機上的廁所的沖刷力。有位長年到處作秀的喜劇演員,幾乎有整個月時間都在秀場、機場和飛機上度過。於是在百般無聊又突發奇想狀況下,把整捲的衛生紙在機艙走道上攤了開來,留下一小端在馬桶裡。在按下沖水紐後,「刷!」的一聲,飛機馬桶的超強吸力,在數秒內把整捲衛生紙吸得清潔溜溜。

或許是因為馬桶有如此神奇吸力與令物體消失的能力,所以我們有時也會看到,例如「青少年未婚媽媽將新生兒沖入馬桶」等讓人憤怒的頭條。或許因為少不更事又不知所措,但是不成熟到認為這個神奇黑洞能夠把她的難題沖走消失,卻也實在可恨荒唐。

但是在台灣,人們似乎很明白只有排泄物才能用馬桶沖走。也或者由於普遍缺少強而有力沖廁系統或害怕會堵塞水管,大家幾乎不會把奇怪的外來物丟進馬桶裡。台灣似乎少見類似歐美變態兇殺或犯罪行為,所以我可想像最不該被馬桶沖走的物品,頂多是不小心從口袋裡掉到馬桶沖掉的手機,或在看完海底總動員的小孩,善心大發把夜市撈到的金魚沖到馬桶放生。

當我更深入研究人們對馬桶沖廢物的態度及其物理過程,一個不可忽視的環境議題隨之展現。有些議題,不管是任何種族文化國家都很普遍,例如大家多半不多思考就使用對環境與海洋有所危害的浴廁清潔劑。雖然不論我們沖下了什麼東西,在物質不滅的定律下,這些東西總有一天還是會回歸到我們的海洋與沿岸,但在美國多數人仍認為,這個神奇黑洞將會幫他們處理一切。最常見就是,大部分人仍會把沒吃完或已過期的處方藥直接丟到馬桶沖掉。雖然原本是為了避免小朋友好奇而意外誤食,或淪落到服成藥上癮者的手上,但這因,同樣也造成了在沿岸捕到的魚,體內含有高度處方藥的果。如果世界各地對待黑洞的心態相同,台灣與美國比較起來,由於汙水管道與排水處理系統未普遍,相信大部分人對於可與不可投入馬桶的內容物,警覺意識雖然不那麼強,但在連衛生紙有時候都沖不走的情況下,對其他異物丟棄於馬桶沖走的機率,實在沒有甚麼好擔心的。

當然我不是認為在台灣每個人都有強烈環保意識,或對環保規條個個捍衛守護。事實上,如果我的假設正確,可能純粹只是因為台灣沖廁系統因為效能較差,以致於環境造成任何負面影響較小。可想像往後新蓋住家或大樓,在建立更強大有效率沖廁系統後,台灣人,會不會和美國人一樣,對待廁所也有了同樣的黑洞心態?

也因為這次探討主題,讓我意識到曾經只會抱怨沖不掉的衛生紙排泄物,或嫌惡潮濕悶臭廁所的態度,轉化為不同觀點的覺知與了解。不管是101大樓的銅管或透天厝的塑膠管,我們藉由這些黑洞與管線息息連結,把曾經是有機身體的一部分和我們沒有意識的行為結果,對大家相生共住的唯一自然,造成最直接的影響。

The black hole
by Syko Song

As I close the door behind me, my feelings of guilt and frustration was much more potent than the foul odor of the environment. It sure wasn't the first time, and as temporary as my emotions may be, it seemed to repeat too often. At every repeated incident, the silent words of the janitor reverberated between my ear drums "Ahhhh not again... what was he thinking?"

Sure I was feeling guilty for clogging up the toilet, but I was more frustrated by the incompetent toilet that couldn't even flush the "toilet paper". Though it may be a common sense for the locals, no one ever informed me the proper way of disposing the tissue in Taiwan. Sure I saw the can in the corner, sure I complained about the odor, but I refused to believe that I was the only one ignorant enough to commit such a crime and then verbally abuse the toilet.

Of course my initial reaction was to blame my ignorance on the inadequate flushing system. How can anyone design such incapable toilet? Doesn't it require the toilet to be able to flush at least eight ping pong balls to pass the flush test?

My defense to that attitude was no different than the mentality of the people in the States, where our least concern during the visit to the toilet is whether the tissue will flush down or not. But being the minority in Taiwan regarding this issue, I questioned my thinking and attempted to understand the process. Foolishly enough it took me nearly two years and countless visits the public bathrooms to figure out the main purpose of the can and comprehend the proper toilet etiquette in Taiwan. Along with that awareness, I became intrigued by the different method of disposing the tissue and decided to further understand the attitudes and behaviors between the people of Taiwan and the U.S. So here I would like to share with you my epitomized observations.

A simple act of tossing a cigarette butt into a toilet seems to be a common practice worldwide, but in the States, it's also a common practice for frivolous people to toss in the dental floss, gum, cotton swaps and even condoms into the toilet. In fact, many of us don't distinguish the difference between a toilet bowl and a trash can and some are even convinced that it's perfectly okay to flush down feminine hygiene products.

Due to more than adequate flushing toilets, such as pressure-assisted toilets that uses compressed air inside the tank to create a turbo-charged flushing action, our conscious decision of what we flush down the toilet seems to be based on the physical ability of the flushing system. In general, we tend to believe the toilet is this magical black hole that will send anything we flush down to the never-never land.

This attitude is commonly practiced by the drug deals flushing down the narcotics during the time of police raid, and reaffirmed by the headlines such as "Murderer flushed body parts down the toilet", "Wife flushes husband's penis down the drain" and as if that isn't outrageous enough, "Teenage mother attempted to flush down her newborn".

But in Taiwan, people seemed to have been toilet trained in rudimentary flushing system to understand that nothing other than human organic matter should be attempted to be flushed. Also, due to lack of highly sophisticated toilets and fear of clogging up the pipes, I reckon that no one attempts to flush down anything foreign. From my observations, people of Taiwan exercise far less criminal behavior and I cannot imagine the most extreme object they flush would be anything more than a gold fish.

As I began to further investigate the attitudes and the physical process of what we flush down the toilet, the significance of the environmental issues surrounding this subject became much more apparent. Again, some practices are universal, such as unconscious and unfriendly act of flushing down the toxic chemicals from toilet bowl cleaning supplies. But though it's clear that some of the items that are flushed will eventually end up in the ocean or on the shores, most people in the States believe that whatever they flush will be filtered and treated by sewage treatment system and then disposed properly. An example of this act is the numerous cases of people flushing down unused or expired prescription drugs and affirmed by the articles on fish caught near the coast being contaminated by them. With that same mentality, most of us don't think twice about the environmental effects of flushing the toilet. In comparison, even though the sewage recovery and waste water treatment is far less practiced in Taiwan, I sense that most people are unconscious about the environmental impact of flushing a toilet, not due to carelessness, but believing that since no one flushes any foreign objects down the toilet there is nothing to be concerned about. Of course I'm not suggesting that every person in Taiwan is environmental conscious and is committed to practicing environmental friendly acts, but after laying out my observations and comparing the differences, I question if one culture of toilet practices and expectations are better than the other.

Regardless, it was obvious that what I have adopted and practiced as normal behavior needed to be revaluated and give further consideration to the consequences of that follows flushing anything down the toilet.