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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Wanted: Toilet for Sale

The toilet lady was obviously busy providing cheap access to the weak-bladdered Muscovite and not-so-welcome guests of the city. She had one of the innumerable blue closets in Moscow up for rent.
She was probably washing her hands yet again and didn’t answer.

There are two types of kabinki around town — the ones with a woman living in the corner with some basic furnishings added to make it cozy where you hold your nose, do your duty and make much use of the spray-can air freshener. Then there are the ones where you rush out afterward, hand over nose and throat as if you have just been attacked with mustard gas in the trenches in World War I. These are the unattended ones.
Still, Alla the Toilet Queen’s ad was intriguing. You rent a kabinka for 5,000 to 6,000 rubles a month, and she says you can earn up to 40,000 rubles in that same period. They promise to clean it once a week, too.

Such profit seems possible, because while Moscow should have one public toilet per thousand residences, the ratio is somewhere around one for every 4,500 Muscovites if you exclude all the courtyards, stairwells and underpasses that are used unofficially.

In the good old days, there was a business of stealing kiosks by hiring a crane and lifting them onto the back of your truck during the night. This caused the kiosk attendant who had been curled up asleep in the corner with a copy of Spid-Info on his face a good deal of surprise when he woke to find himself in a completely different part of Moscow.

Many of the kabinki are actually fly-by-night gypsy toilets, plonked down in the middle of a square without any permission and leaving the owners rolling in it at the end of the day. With newspapers predicting a return to the lawless 1990s and kiosks now being welded to the ground, we may see toilets begin to be stolen.

The Ukrainians apparently have the right idea in Kiev, where every restaurant is forced to allow anyone hopping outside on one leg access to their conveniences. This is unlikely to work in Moscow, though there are certain restaurants to which it would be nice to send tours of the incontinent.

A reader who wrote in after one story about where to use the facilities in Moscow appeared to point out snobbishly that real Muscovites use the toilet at McDonald’s. Pah, sneered anyone who knows anything about free toilets in central Moscow. The Pushkin McDonald’s is only when really desperate. After all, you can just go down the road and use the fluffed- up towels in the Ritz Carlton. Just turn left before you get to Jeroboam.