Mar. 8, 2021


In the mid-nineties, while teaching at the Beijing Broadcasting Institute--located in the suburbs of Beijing, China-- I saw unbelievable struggles.  I saw conditions most Americans would deem unacceptable but—unlike  those in America--I never heard one complaint.  With poor Chinese-- poor conditions are part of their everyday lives.  Imagine living without running water or electricity.  Heat is provided by a single cook stove which requires endless loads of chopped wood because coal is impossibly-expensive.  During the winter months, all farm animals-- such as a horse, mule, goat, or pig—must stay in the house---with the family-- huddled around the small, cooking stove.  A family can’t afford to lose their valuable animals to the freezing cold.

With no indoor plumbing, Chinese often hike two or three blocks to a community latrine for their bodily functions..  The public latrine is a primitive building, roofed with high, open windows, dirt floors and divided by a single wall into a section for men on one side and women on the other. Both sides contain a series of deep holes in the ground. Remember: there’s no running water in a latrine for hand-washing and toilet paper must be "carried-in" by each latrine user.  These rectangular-shaped holes are the neighborhood’s only toilets. Nothing more than crude, open holes, these receptacles must be straddled at considerable risk.  I speak from experience. When nature calls and this is the allocated "toilet" do what must be done!  The challenge lies in holding your breath, finishing your business, then running outside as quickly as possible.  An American outhouse would seem like a Taj Mahal when compared to these disgusting stink- holes of fermenting waste. 

I’ve heard horror stories about children, old people, the blind, or crippled unfortunates who-------have fallen into these deep holes of slimy excrement!  One elderly woman--whose story appeared in the local Chinese paper-- lost her balance, fell in a hole and had to cling-- in freezing weather-- to the slippery sides—while desperately- fighting to keep her head above the floating body waste. She fought the elements for hours before someone discovered her. The local police were contacted and faced the daunting task of rescuing the stinky/slimy woman.

 Every six weeks--an unlucky Chinese driving a horse/donkey drawn cart-- arrives at the latrines to hand-empty each latrine hole. The man dips bucket after bucket into these unimaginably-foul cavities of putrid elimination--then empties each bucket's over-flowing content into large, open barrels sitting on the worker’s wooden cart. The driver and his beast of burden drive their odorific cargo through the city streets-- the load sloshing and spilling-- on their journey to a human waste station.  There, each load of neighbohood waste unites with other neighborhood waste-loads to occupy rusting metal, three-story vats where the human waste is sold----by the gallon---to farmers.

For centuries, Chinese Farmers have been depositing human waste fertilizer directly to their crops. That’s the reason All Foreigners are cautioned to carefully-wash (with strong soap and water) all uncooked vegetables, fruits, and other uncooked foods purchased in China.

Have you lost your appetite yet?!?!?!?  

Latest comments

17.10 | 01:42

I miss being Facebook friends with you! Hope you are well and happy.

Tammy Brookover Jay

15.10 | 01:28

Love all of this. I'm so lucky to be your neighbor,

30.08 | 16:26

Sally, my friend, I love your writings and sometimes they make me cry and then smile. I love you as if I had known you all my life. God Bless you each and every day in all you do.

29.08 | 19:19

Lol, I loved reading this story! As a female that dated a couple men with Harleys, I totally understand and met Harley Guy myself, many times over!
I hope you get your 3wheels someday soon!

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