Follow the Portaloo

Last week, while driving to my parents’ house I got stuck behind a truck holding some digging equipment and a portaloo (portable toilet). I considered going around the truck but noticed that the portaloo’s door was facing sideways and the door kept on half opening whenever the truck took the corners.

I decided to stay behind and wait until the road divided up ahead and hoped that the portaloo would go one way and I the other. All of at the cars behind me did not take the same decision and immediately changed lanes, passing the portaloo before changing back again.

I thought, am I making the wrong decision sitting back here. Is everyone else right and I’m wrong? They are taking a big risk there with that door opening all the time. As I sat behind I considered portaloo rules. Yes, I have some experience with portaloos, I had one in my front yard for over a year when we renovated years ago. Apart from remembering that they were very expensive to hire, I remembered that they were delivered clean. Now is this portaloo being delivered or returned? (I have a 50/50 chance.) I also know that someone comes to collect the waste and clean the toilet once a week; surely it would have to be cleaned before being returned! The Department of Roads and Transport would insist that the only portaloos travelling on our roads must be clean ones.

I decided that I had a 100% chance that were that portaloo to fall off the back of the truck, my car would possibly be crushed but at least it wouldn’t have poo on it!

I tend to make portaloo-type decisions all the time when I drive. If I see a bad driver up ahead, I’d rather hang back and so that I can see what they’re doing rather than try to overtake because I worry that they will do something weird in the moment I’m beside them, like drift into my lane, or if I’ve already overtaken them, they might drive into the back of me.

I’m risk-averse, but I don’t know which strategy is better. I believe most people will overtake. What would you do?

(While I’ve been typing this up, the word predictor thing keeps changing my portaloos to portals, even when I say, no I don’t want portals, they say, yes you do! I suppose they are portals in a way. Portal could become a more grown-up way of saying portaloo. If I used portals though I don’t think this story would have any humour in it at all!)

If it is possible, I dedicate this post to Don Tillman, the hero in the novel The Rosie Project, the man who made odd cool!