Everywhere you look, you see news reports foretelling the end of the world. Forget global warming and the latest killer virus: The toilets have turned on us and are ready to attack.
Signs of the apocalypse are everywhere these days. Rich people are preparing for doomsday by scooping up property in New Zealand. Stephen Hawking is predicting that our technological advances will result in self-destruction. The Doomsday Clock, which scientists use to estimate mankind’s proximity to oblivion, is set at a couple minutes to midnight.
It’s hard not to be concerned about the confluence of disconcerting recent events. Donald Trump has been elected president. The Chicago Cubs have won the World Series. Bob Dylan has won a Nobel Prize. And in Russia, killer toilets are on the loose.
International news services reported last week that rampaging portable toilets sent the people of Moscow running for their lives. Heavy rain and high winds hit the heart of the city, sending blue Porta Pottys sliding down the water-logged city streets. Pedestrians fled in terror. Getting caught in a storm is bothersome. Being pursued by a fast-moving plastic box full of waste must be terrifying.
Video posted online shows people scurrying away from the wayward loos, which looked like blue versions of the time-traveling Tardis from “Doctor Who.” Am I too late to suggest that we start calling every portable toilet in Moscow a “Turdis?”
Perhaps it’s fitting that portable toilets, after decades of meeting our ends, would become the instrument by which humanity would meet its end. But this development remains a surprise. We could see the planet flooding because of climate change. Or President Trump nuking us all by inadvertently hitting the Launch button instead of the Send button on Twitter. But death by Porta Potty? It would be far from a dignified demise.
Online observers had a field day, of course. “Heading to Red Square? Urine for a surprise!” “Vladimir Putin had found a creative new way to target political opponents.” “I usually go looking for a toilet, not the other way around!” Wokka wokka wokka.
But I say this news is nothing to chuckle about. These blue slip-sliding toilets might very well be the first horsemen of the apocalypse. Or perhaps the second. They’re toilets, so they could very well be No. 1 or No. 2.
What’s that you say? This was an isolated incident that isn’t worth getting worked up about? I bet the dinosaurs thought the same thing the first couple times small asteroids struck Earth. The next thing they knew, the big one hit, the debris blocked out the sun, and the beasts at the top of the food chain became museum exhibits.
Don’t look now, but we happen to rest atop the food chain today. At least, until the computers become self-aware and take over. Or dolphins develop opposable thumbs and acquire automatic weapons. These scenarios may seem like long shots, but the tyrannosaurus rex would’ve thought the same thing about a killer asteroid striking the Yucatan.
The computers haven’t turned against us yet, but the toilets have. At least they have in Moscow, where the most overwhelming rainfall in 90 years sent portable toilets skidding. The incident left the streets paved not with gold, but another shade of yellow.
It’s just the latest troubling sign that our time might be short. Is the end of the world near? The answer, like the portable toilets, is blowing in the wind.