Close Encounters of the Turd Kind
Posted by special request from Nicola.
My biggest worry when applying for this Welfare Manager job wasn’t the immense medical responsibility, the huge pressure of keeping 130 students and staff safe and healthy for five weeks, or the accountability for pretty much anything that goes on. It was that I would, at some point, have to deal with poo.
I had hoped that being at a school with kids aged 11-16 there wouldn’t be much need for me to deal with faeces. In my four summers working at the school the older centres have always been fine, so touch wood, this trend will carry on (or perhaps, more appropriately, touch cloth). Still, I’ve not managed to avoid having any few poo-related incidents so far over my summer school career…
- At Eastbourne, where the younger students all go, there were a few toilet troubles. The biggest of them was one student who suffered from extreme constipation – so extreme, in fact, that it resulted in the body expelling the unwanted matter inside. That’s probably about as much detail as I need to go into, and fortunately it was two years ago and while I knew all there was to know about that particular ailment at the time, happily I’ve forgotten the medical details now. I do recall that there was a call over the walkie-talkie to notify us that there was a “Code Brown” incident in one of the houses. The sense of horror his words brought can never be forgotten.
- At the same place, a smaller boy had an accident in his pants one day and proceeded to hide the incriminating pants in his cupboard. Perhaps he was embarrassed; perhaps he just didn’t know what to do. Either way, I doubt it counts among one of the most thrilling discoveries made when a House Parent retrieved them (fortunately) soon after.
- There was a near-miss at Eastbourne again, in fact with the same boy. At that site the summer school office overlooked the playing field, where the kids went for their breaks. Looking over them one day during a lunch break, feeling lordly and powerful in my elevated viewing arena, I spotted little Timmy* waddling around unusually. Unusual, that is, because he didn’t normally waddle as such. I radioed down to a member of staff to get him to check if Timmy was alright, because he definitely had the look of a boy who’d pooed himself again. As it turned out, the reason for the waddling was that he was cold. Something for Arctic explorers to take note of here – when it gets a bit nippy, try waddling. It seems to work for penguins and little Timmy.
- This year saw my next near encounter with poop. For a variety of reasons we weren’t allowed at our host school until the Sunday – usually we are there for the Saturday to set up before students arrive the next day. And so it was that we arrived at around 5:30am on that Sunday morning and started straight away to prepare for the arrivals.
This involved, for me and one of my House Parents, a trip to the boys’ boarding block to check the rooms were all clear and the bathrooms were all clean. As it turned out, everything was perfect…except for one toilet. To put it politely, there was a sizeable obstacle in the toilet bowl. To put it rather less politely and more bluntly, there was a massive poo. I thus found myself, at 6am on a Sunday morning having been awake for an hour and a half and having had no breakfast, attempting to clear said blockage. I won’t go into details. It was thoroughly unpleasant.
It wasn’t by any means the perfect start to my time here. I also discovered that I’m not particularly good at dealing with poo, a quality it would be useful to have in my role as Welfare Manager. Or perhaps I simply discovered that I can’t deal with it at 6am. I’d rather not have another opportunity to find out, if I’m honest.
. *Names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved.