The streets of London were once believed to be paved with gold, but now it seems they are covered with discarded plastic bottles full of urine and carrier bags full of shit—or so one newspaper reports. Apparently, the lack of public rest rooms in the capital has caused some taxi drivers to “improvise” when answering the call of nature. The problem was highlighted on an Uber forum in March of this year when drivers shared advice on “Toilet issues.”
The thread began with the following question from user Momo, who posted:
Help plz bros! Working 18 hour days I struggle to hold on to a pee for that long. Tried peeing into a coffee cup but only a grande size holds my wee. I overflowed on them petite cup all down my new Primarks! Lol! I find milk and coke bottles don’t fit my willy width. Don’t want a customer to get with one of those stuck. Might not get my 5 stars man! What can I do? Is there a bottle that fits all out there?
Whether this was genuine or just a troll out for laughs cannot be discerned—but let’s be honest, there is something about the wording of this post and the relish with which it is written that makes it seem a little fake. A little too Ali G, perhaps?
In response another Uber driver Backdash offered this advice:
For emergencies only
When you see a place to piss go piss whether you have the urge or not.
So, it does seem that toilet breaks are an issue for some taxi drivers. Indeed, there’s even an app to help distressed drivers find the nearest “comfort station.” However, Momo was not content with these helpful suggestions:
Working London there is no where to pull up without getting a ticket. I even had to dump in a Tesco bag the other week. Hid the log under the passenger seat until I lobbed it out. Blamed the bad sewers whenever people asked what the smell was! Lol!
By now, of course, this is beginning to sound very much like a troll’s wind-up, but City Metric who covered the story notes:
Public toilets in London, especially at night, tend to be placed in areas with busy nightlife, where drivers are unlikely to find a parking spot. Yes, that driver in the original tweet could have gone to Starbucks – but he could have ended up paying both the price of a coffee and a parking ticket for the privilege.
It’s not just the lack of public restrooms that is the problem. In 2012, one cab driver in Darlington, England was pulled over for leaving his vehicle unattended at a taxi rank to answer a call of nature—it is illegal in Darlington to leave a cab unattended. What’s a poor cabbie to do, modify their driver’s seat into a toilet on wheels? (This would clearly cause a worse sanitary problem, but what at the alternatives?)
Tim in Cleveland chimed in on the Uber forum:
No where to go in Cleveland either. Ohio law requires gas stations to have restrooms, but not a single one in Cleveland complies! Fast food restaurants close their lobbies by 10 pm. You have to wander into a bar or leave the city to get a restroom after that. I hit the 24 hour grocery store that’s in the next city.
London cab users have also witnessed the problem as some have pointed out on Twitter:
Whether this gleefully defecating “Momo” is genuine or not, there appears to be some kind of an issue, though one not everyone wants to hear about:
POST # 11/ @DenverDiane@DenverDiane: These three
Drivers @Backdash@Backdash, @momo@momo and
@sinbad@sinbad are mistakenly thinking
that they are in the London, England SubForum…SOMEHOW!
Use Conversation Feature to PM your
London colleagues. NO ONE wants to
know that your “Willy” won’t fit into
the neck of a Coca-Cola bottle.
As for stashing a Grocery-Bagged Dump
under your seat until you Fling it out
the Window… WAAAAY TOO MUCH
City Metric approached Uber for a comment and are currently awaiting a reply.