Sunday, August 27, 2017
Bog Standard, A Parable
There was once a young man, a handsome, moral, and brave young man, dexterous beyond compare, sharp of eye, voracious in the consumption of information and with sagacity and recall to rival that of the wisest of elephants. Oh yes, and he was also a software tester.
This preternaturally blessed young man, over the course of time, had occasion to visit many conveniences, both public and private. As was his way, he declined to waste those periods of forced repose and so took the opportunity to exercise and practice the skills that served him so well elsewhere in his life while sequestered in those littlest of rooms.
To this end, over repeated visits to a particular water closet he began to observe that, while the cleanliness in general could not be faulted, there was one area which was reliably hygienic to a significantly lower standard than the rest. This region, populated by dust, tiny fragments of tissue, hair, and other detritus, he noted, was along the base of the wall directly in the eyeline of one seated on the porcelain throne.
"How could the cleaners of this thunderbox, clearly evidenced to be otherwise assiduous in their duties, have regularly missed this blatant, glaring filth", he wondered?
As he reflected on this question, he studied the topography of the chamber. From his vantage point, seated with his back to one of the short edges of the rectangular room, the door was to his left with handle closest to him and hinges on the far side. On opening, the door would swing inwards and away from him, to rest against the far wall, the one whose junction with the floor had so captured his attention. This wall was only slightly wider than the door itself and, from his perch, he guessed he would need merely a second arm's length to be able to touch it, making this a small latrine, but not unusually so.
He began to form a theory concerning a toilet provider employing a toilet attendant, tasked with making the toilet experience acceptable to the toilet users, but operating within constraints on time, materials, the physical layout and so on. Equipped with mop, toilet brush, vacuum cleaner, duster and detergent, on pushing open the door, the attendant would squeeze into the confined space with elbows around their ears to clean and tidy before backing awkwardly out again.
In spite of any good intentions for this cubicle in particular and high standard of cleanliness elsewhere in the facility, it was still clearly possible for the attendant to miss something significant and negative and obvious to users within moments of their first experience of the service. In this scenario, the door would never — could never — have closed, and the attendant never have had either cause nor indeed opportunity to adopt the position, pose and perspective of the crapper's patrons.
"This is an exciting thought!" he thought excitedly, but sadly it was lost for ever when a new project with terrifyingly high priority came crashing onto his to do list: someone had used the last piece of toilet paper ...