A sought-after toilet seat (Point Reyes Light, 03.05.2009)

copy-of-_mg_5361Colin Woolley left Bolinas on Saturday to camp in the Sonoran Desert. But before he left, he was charged with a mission—to secure a toilet seat.

“WANTED: A toilet seat!” announced a flier the 26-year-old field biologist posted on the bulletin board outside the Bolinas Market. “I’m hoping to score a toilet seat before I go. If you have a spare lying around or know the whereabouts of any, I would love to have it for what I’m calling ‘Project Desert Commode.’ This toilet seat will get the use it deserves.” The poster was handwritten inside a pen and ink sketch of a toilet seat.

Colin is joining a small team of Point Reyes Bird Observatory (PRBO) scientists studying birds in Arizona for the next few months. He is originally from Portland, Oregon, and has worked with PRBO for five years. He spent the past three months surveying mostly sparrows and warblers on Point Reyes.

In Arizona, the team will need to build a toilet. “What I imagine is a wooden, short structure with a seat on top and a bucket,” Colin said. “My task was to track down a seat.” And someone was charged with finding a bucket? “Presumably,” he answered.

“It seemed like something silly to buy, because I figured there must be so many out there,” Colin added. “Someone who goes beachcombing might find a cool one that came from a ship and be willing to part with it.”

He tacked up the fliers—the original one outside the market and a black and white copy in the post office—last Tuesday. “It was a shot in the dark. I was hoping to get lucky.”

The poster shared a thumbtack with a packet of fliers for vegrev.com and hung to the right of a brochure for Stockstill House Assisted Living. Above it was a sheet of paper that asked: “Want to help me pay my rent?” A colorful etching on the frame of the bulletin board made it known that: “Every man, woman and child in this village may enjoy, share and be responsible for this board.”

No rules govern what goes up on the Wharf Road bulletin board or the one inside the health food store. The post office’s board does have policies, however. “But no one ever asks. They just put them up,” said postmistress Sharon Mantle. “I take them down if they slander someone. It’s no place to describe a gripe.”

The day before he left, Colin’s fliers were lying on the floor outside the market and missing from the post office board. No one had responded, but he secured a seat by other means.

“My friend won it as a prize from a costume party,” Colin said. It was a Golden-crowned Sparrow party—where everyone dressed up as the titular bird to celebrate its arrival on Point Reyes for the winter. “He dressed up as a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.”

Colin’s friend’s wife made the executive decision that her husband no longer needed the toilet seat, and she gave it to Colin. “It was sitting on his desk by his computer, under some datasheets,” he said.

It was only the seat—white with rusty screws and broken hinges and the top rim was worn down. Colin found a lid in a tool shed at work. “It fits,” he said, putting the two pieces together, opening and closing them. “It probably went with it.”

~ by Janet Fang on March 6, 2009.

One Response to “A sought-after toilet seat (Point Reyes Light, 03.05.2009)”

  1. Colin is our son and we hope the toilet worked out OK.

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