Chaos in the Can at Coober Pedy
[Mission to scatter Dad’s ashes in central Australia accomplished, the T-Team Next Generation commenced their journey back down south to Adelaide. Toilet stops were an essential part of the trip. A fact that these conveniences, even in this modern age, sometimes fail to appreciate…And the users too failed to appreciate, thus no mugshots of the “can” in question…
So, in lieu of that particular “robot” model, I have hunted down and flushed out (from my photo collection) an assortment of true blue Aussie dunnies from my travels…through life…]
We settled down at a picnic table near the automated toilets. Anthony prepared the sandwiches while I dashed into the “robot” dunny to do my deed.
While I sat on the tin throne, county and western come Hawaiian music clanged away. Did I detect a banjo while the toilet roll unfurled itself for me? No button to flush. Oh, well. Once I washed my hands, the toilet duly flushed. Then, I placed my hands under the air-dryer. As usual, I am invisible to this universe, and the cohort of air-dryers that belong to it. Air-dryer refused to acknowledge me and blow air on my wet hands. Oh, well, I’ll dry my hands with my own towel from the car that exists quite happily in my universe.
I step to the sliding door and press the large blue button. The music volume increased. But the doors did not oblige. I pressed the blue button again. Nothing. Just the demented music. Becoming more demented.
I read the instructions. And pressed the blue button again.
I hit the button.
Kicked the door.
I sat down by the stubborn non-sliding door.
Instructions said I must vacate this automated locked-down establishment in ten minutes. As if to press its point the “robot” toilet increased the annoyance level of the music.
What’s worse, I had entered this pongy prison without my mobile phone. Or jumper. It was cold in there.
Anthony called from the outside. ‘What’s going on?’
‘I’m trapped,’ I replied. ‘The toilet won’t open.’
‘Have you tried to push the button?’
‘Yes, a million times.’
‘Well, you must’ve done something wrong.’
I noted that the blue button had written on it “touch free” and then I figured, That’s why the toilet’s incarcerated me. Touching it must’ve broken its rules. ‘Has it been ten minutes yet?’
Then, the blue button which I’m meant to push for my release from this demented can, the button that has “touch free” displayed on it, lit up and vibrated. But the door refused to budge.
I pushed the door. No joy. It stayed locked and the not-so-ambient music went on and on like some crazy organ-grinder.
I was starting to imagine some security guy in some dug-out office in the middle of Coober Pedy laughing at this old jailbird (me)…when…
A voice from above warned, ‘You have exceeded your stay, you must exit immediately.’
‘Not that I haven’t wanted to,’ I snapped back. Pushed the vibrating bright button, yet again. Pulled the door. Still stubborn as.
‘You have exceeded your stay. You must exit immediately.’ Followed by the crazy music.
I rolled my eyes. ‘I wish.’
Watched the door. Hoping. Praying it would open.
‘You have exceeded your stay. You must exit immediately.’
I waited and watched. ‘You might need to call the police or emergency services to release me,’ I told Anthony.
As if it heard my warning to call the authorities, the door slid open. I leapt out. ‘Yay! I’m free! I’m free!’ I jumped and danced in front of a rather unimpressed husband. ‘I’m never going to in one of those things again! I thought it was never going to open!’
‘Come on, let’s have lunch,’ Anthony snipped, ‘We’ve already wasted twenty-five minutes.’
‘Not before I get my jumper, I’m freezing. You don’t know how cold it was in there. I’m never going into a toilet without my mobile phone or a jumper. Ever.’
As we munched on our sandwiches, a brisk wind chilled us to the bone, even with an extra layer of clothing on. A little indigenous boy scampered into the evil “robot’ toilet. Less than a minute later, he exited. Anthony, then went into the same crazy “can” and was out in two minutes.
‘How did you do that?’ I asked.
Anthony replied smugly, ‘I pressed the blue button.’
‘So did I, a dozen times.’
‘You must’ve done something wrong.’
‘Just my luck I had to be incarcerated by the toilet.’
So, out on parole from the Cooper Pedy “can”, we escaped this town and headed for Woomera.
[to be continued…]
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021
Feature Photo: Let me out! Our History Teacher Jailed in Burra Mines © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger) 1980