China, home of the one–child policy, has come up with another single–digit initiative designed to cement its place among the first rank of nations in this our new century.
The Peking Municipal Commission of City Administration and Environment has decreed a “new standard for public toilet management.” Henceforth public restrooms in the capital city are limited to a maximum of two flies per stall.
Never having enjoyed a Chinese public toilet myself, I don’t know if the Chinese boast both urinals and toilets or troughs and bottomless holes (no pun intended). Would a hypothetical urinal, being smaller, be limited to a single fly? For that matter, since a handicapped stall enjoys so much extra space would it be granted the privilege of three flies instead of just two?
I’ve been in some domestic gas station bathrooms that would have seen marked improvement from the imposition of a two–fly rule — the worst being in Arkansas, an otherwise lovely state. Other grim facilities were encountered in Trinidad (the heat doesn’t help), Mexico, a Polish train and about every third Port–o–Let. But frankly, in most instances the olfactory conditions were such that I didn’t have time to conduct a fly head count, so I don’t know if the Municipal Commission rule would have helped.
Precise policy enforcement details remain vague at this point. It is unknown if fly inspectors (Chinese, not TSA) will average the total number of flies in the bathroom across available stalls or if there will be strict geographic enforcement with accompanying “no–fly” zones.
Xie Guomin, who is in charge of the insect census decree, explained, “We will not actually count fly numbers. The regulation is specific and quantified, but the inspection methodology will be flexible.”