The Poo Problem

There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you guys.

DC is full of feces.

The problem mostly has to do with the city’s large homeless population—more than 11,000 individuals by 2004 estimates (3,000 of which, sadly, are children).

And you don’t have to be here long to see what happens when nature calls on one of these folks.

Last winter, I saw a guy taking a leak off of a metro platform in Cleveland Park. A couple of weeks before that, my colleague saw a guy, um…oh, let’s just say it: masturbating at the McPhereson Square metro stop at 8:30 in the morning.

Unfortunately, my colleague has a bit of bad luck, because last month he saw a guy taking a dump in an ashtray on Connecticut Ave. at 8AM. For those of you who don’t know, Connecticut Ave. is one of the busiest streets in Washington. According to my colleague, the myriad people walking past him didn’t give him a moment’s pause.

But leave it to Google Maps to put a finer point on the issue. Shortly after the Connecticut Ave. incident, Google’s Street View team caught a guy with his pants down fixing to take a dump at a busy intersection in Northeast.

This, friends, is madness, and I’ve been trying to come up with an idea to curb this hazard to public health. My idea: City installation of public toilets, accessible for the cost of a penny or nickle. Or, even accessible by tokens given out by local shelters and churches.

Most people don’t like that idea because, A) the DC city government doesn’t have money to install or maintain public toilets; and B) many homeless folks struggle with mental illness or drug problems, making it unlikely that they’d bother with them or use their pennies on toilets when they can dump outside for free.

So what’s the solution? I’m open to your ideas. And in the meantime, I’ll be treading lightly.


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