ConcarneauLast month, on a sunny Sunday, I was touring southern Finistère with my mom. We had a number of stops planned for the day, one of the middle stops being the walled medieval city of Concarneau.

We strolled around the pedestrian streets of the old city, then thought it best to stop off at the public toilets before jumping back in the car.

It was a pretty disgusting bathroom, but when you gotta go, you gotta go. It was one of these automated, self-cleaning toilets with green and red buttons for opening and locking the doors. A bit scary. I held my mom’s things while she went in. Then came the mistake. She held the door open for me, I handed off the belongings to be held in the “safe” zone, and went in, shutting the door behind me.

Just as I was peeing, I had this awful feeling. A self-cleaning toilet… how does it know I’m in here? It must have a motion sensor, right? It had been a good 10 or 15 seconds so I assumed I was in the clear. And that’s when it happened.

All of a sudden, water starting shooting out across the floor, soaking my shoes. Then water started spraying from above. And the best part? Water started spraying up from the toilet bowl, presumably spraying me not just with water, but also with my own pee.

I did what ay sensible person would do: panicked and started screaming. My mom didn’t know what was happening, she just heard creaming. I somehow managed to press the “open door” button. Luckily, the same person who designed French washing machines did not design this toilet, so the door did, after a long pause, open in mid-cycle.

I ran out of the bathroom in hysterics with my jeans around my ankles. Thankfully, only my mom was there to see it. But I was soaked in dirty water (and don’t forget, my own pee) and pretty far from home. My mom swore I didn’t smell like pee but I am pretty sure I did.

The walk back to the car was pretty embarrassing. I am sure everyone thought I had peed in my pants. I suppose I did, just with the toilet as an intermediary.

So here are two little travel tips for anyone encountering one of these new age toilets: 1) Don’t go anywhere near them, and 2) If you absolutely have to go near them, make sure they have completed their self-“cleaning” cycle before you enter!!

 

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