Scheiße–I think it’s the most widely known German word. And now I know why. It’s all I’ve been doing since I arrived here in this wonderful beer-laden land. I imagined that I would spend months constipated, or that I would at least produce compact wurst like poops for the first couple days, but NO! Shit. Shit. Shit.
So I’m abroad for the semester in Göttingen, Germany. And I was so excited to arrive here in this foreign land, so when I saw that my lovely clean and cute apartment was equipped with its own bathroom, I was pretty excited. “sweet. No more awkward, I’m-pooping-in-the-girls-room-next-to-my-neighbor-stuff. It’s always so: hope she doesn’t notice it’s me. Anyway, I just wait in the stall until she leaves so I don’t have to face the awkwardness of eye contact.”
I sat down to christen my new porcelain butt-buddy, “relieved” that this food had enough fiber to…well…you know. Happily done (and amazed at German toilets–they are strangely deep and seem to hide EVERYTHING…I mean it’s like magic.)
I looked over to the toilet paper. Empty.
Shit. no toilet paper. “Well, good thing I have these face wash wipes. They’re sizable and hygienic…perfect! Not the intended purpose, but I guess it works. Kind of like a baby butt cleaner pad–surprisingly fresh!”
I dropped it into the toilet, and was about to push the reassuring bigger button for “extra loads” (more water to wash it all down). Before I pushed the button I remembered a slightly similar experience. Once, while cleaning with paper towels, I lazily didn’t want to go downstairs to the trash, so I flushed my paper towel. The toilet was clogged for days. You see, paper towels (and face wash wipes) don’t dissolve in water. So even after I left drain-o in overnight, it still wouldn’t flush. I had a choice. I could deal publicly with a clogged toilet on my first day (with floormates I had never met), or I could find a way to fish the wipe out. I took another face-wipe-cloth-thing, and whimpering a bit for the new rock bottom I had just found. Part of it was still above water–so I grabbed the little island and quickly moved it to…to…the trashcan?
Shit. No trashcan. WTF Germany. I thought you were supposed to be the country that CARED ABOUT HYGIENE. Now I had to transport the POOP STAINED wipe down the hall to the PUBLIC TRASHCAN. WTF IS MY LYFE?! Luckily, I made it through the stealth mission without encountering any “new friends” on the hallway.
But let’s be real here. The adventure wasn’t over. I had to obtain toilet paper. In America this would be no big deal. I would hop in my Honda, go to Target, pick up a massive amount of toilet paper (along with everything else I needed) put it all in my car and drive home while singing along to a Katy Perry song on the radio. NBD. Right?
Weeeeeeeell, in Germany you have to walk or ride your bike to the store. There really isn’t any public transport to speak of because everyone just rides their bike. No problemo…if you have a bike. If you don’t, you have to walk, then walk back with your newly bought toilet paper. The way is too long for a walk, so I thought. “I’ll steal some from a public toilet.” Well, this is a University town, and there are students everywhere cutting corners and counting Euro cents. So all of the toilet paper is LOCKED IN. If you ever find yourself lost up shit creek without a paddle, just know you can’t steal a roll from the Germans–so don’t bother.
OK….I was still looking for a solution, and trying to limit all unloading to public areas where I could bumm of someone else’s beloved toilet paper. (Note: this was hard to do since my main occupation has become “unloading.” I don’t understand how it’s possible to literally excrete a larger volume than you consume…and I’m not really sure because of the magic-hiding-function that german toilets have, but at the very least I’ve got an impressive ratio going on here). Later that afternoon in the dining hall, with my newfound international friends, I was feeling pretty good about myself. I was sitting with the group of girls I wanted to be friends with (I swear I’m a freshman again) when someone got up to get napkins. “anyone want extra?” she asked amicably. “Oh, hell yeah. I’m totally out of toilet paper. Grab me a stack.” WTF. Where are my social skills? At lunch? Really? These are not the people you’ve known for years! C’mon! So I buried my quickly reddening face and tried to explain the situation in as normal a way as possible before changing the subject.
So, to conclude, when I finally did get a bike, let’s just say I got some toilet paper, the biggest freaking pack they had.