The great thing about Calgary is that there are always new and exciting things to check out. Whether it be a cool art exhibit, an interesting restaurant concept (what the heck is a supper club anyway?), a great concert or a $210,000 public washroom.

This morning I decided that I would go check out this new public washroom that is just a few blocks from my home.

I was thinking of going to the big public opening, but thought it would be more interesting to check it out after a weekend of normal 17th Avenue debauchery. So early Sunday morning, after drinking two large glasses of water, I got bundled up and made my way to the corner of 17th Ave in Tompkins Park to see what it is like to pee in, what I can only assume is the closet I’ll ever come to a real luxury bathroom experience.

As I was making my up to the deluxe porta-potty there was a group of guys sitting in front of it laughing about what kind of idiots would even use it. I decided to keep walking around the block, I guess I didn’t want to be judged for not peeing in an alley.

Upon my return, the guys were gone and I made my way into the washroom. Upon entering it is impossible to not be impressed by how sleek and cool the whole structure is. When the door opens it even has the cool “woosh” sound effect like you would hear on Star Trek. My second impression? The thing talks…a lot. “Open the door”, “close the door”, “hit this button for the toilet seat” (it comes out of the wall already cleaned and heated!), “hit this one for toilet paper”. The whole thing came off as a rather bossy piece of machinery. It talked so much, it almost seemed like someone was in there with me. But soon, it stopped talking and to my surprise music started playing, Burt Bacharach’s “What the world needs now is love” at that! This thing was turning out to be better than the bathroom in my tiny apartment!

I did have one major concern though: the 10 minute time limit. You see, after 10 minutes the doors will open up automatically. This is to stop people from perhaps doing deviant things or setting up camp in the washroom. While I only made a quick stop, I’m concerned for when people aren’t feeling so well. Perhaps they ate some bad sushi or their pita isn’t sitting well with them. I guess what I’m trying to say is: What happens if the person needs more time? What about the poor souls who should happen to walk by at that exact awkward moment when the doors automatically open up?

But other than that the whole experience was kinda fun. The stall was nice and warm and so was the water to wash your hands with too. It was clean and safe. Even my bathroom is only 50% of those things. So as I made my way home, happy with my $210,000 bathroom experience, I only had one thought:.

“If this thing is so smart how come it didn’t tell me my fly was down the whole walk home?”

Mike Morrison