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You Potty Mouth! A Tribute to Toilet Trivia
By Joe Bouchard
Published: 10/24/2016

Toilet washing scaled The following is an installment in "The Bouchard 101", a series featuring "Ice Breaker's" designed to promote training awareness and capabilities in the corrections industry.

We work in an environment where we hear an extraordinary amount of expletives every single day. Potty mouths and potty humor are rather prevalent in the corrections setting. Love it or hate it, it does not matter. It is one of those vocational realities that we face regardless of stance.

Every now and again, an incident arises in our profession where we are forced to re-examine the role of profanity in the workplace. Policy directives and civil service rules outline behavior expected of us. Therefore, at one time or another most trainers will facilitate a module on the elimination of profanity on the worksite.

I admit that the following is a very, very strange way to address this topic. But, as it is a touchy subject, perhaps a little bit of wry humor may aid in making the anti-swearing training more palatable.

The facilitator might say something like this:

“Because of recent incidents, the department has implemented some mandatory training that addresses the use of profanity. It is a very serious topic. And in many ways we are judged not by the many good deeds we do, but some of the few verbal mistakes that we perpetrate. So before we delve into this topic, you're going to take a few minutes and take a 10 question quiz. This, in fact, is the potty mouth quiz.”

Perhaps the class will expect an origin of swearing exam. Or maybe they may think it's a survey on their favorite expletive. But that's not it at all. The facilitator will distribute a 10 question quiz that relates directly to the toilet. Don't worry, there's nothing scatological here. It is a simple curveball thrown to take some of the gravity off of the serious topic of expected conduct. (see Toilet Trivia Test below) It is a trainer’s discretion to offer a prize for quickest done or most questions correct. Over the years I have collected cheap and chintzy items and offered them as rewards. The “winner” simply reaches into the “box of dubious prizes” as I like to call it and revels in the tacky glory. It is more about bragging rights. After all, not everyone gets a prize. Other inexpensive giveaways can include suckers, candy, or other snacks.

A friend of mine offered a suggestion for prize. She believes that the winner of the Toilet Trivia Test should be given a fresh, unused roll of toilet paper. Of course, it's best to know one's audience before offering such a practical, yet unusual reward for knowledge. And I certainly would not advocate this prize strategy for all groups.

This test can be recycled from the one provided below. Also, the enterprising and creative facilitator can create one. There are plenty of websites that speak to this topic.

I will grant you that this is not an icebreaker for the traditional, straight-laced instructor. However, experience tells me that something slightly out of left field such as this icebreaker goes a long way in taking the stigma out of a weighty, mandatory module.

It is up to the instructor, however, to apply the appropriate amount of dignity during the module. This icebreaker is merely a way to introduce an important topic in an unorthodox way. I actually field tested this exercise and the participants said it was fun.

Toilet Trivia Test
  1. In which direction does the toilet water flow when the toilet is flushed in the northern hemisphere?
  2. What is a standard toilet seat measurement?
  3. In the United States what is the standard capacity of water in a standard toilet?
  4. How many times per day does the average US family flush its toilet(s)?
  5. What is the average number of toilets in United States household?
  6. What material are toilet rings made?
  7. Which historical figure is credited with having the first flushable toilet?
  8. Who is erroneously credited with inventing the first flushable toilet?
  9. What are the three most popular colors for toilets in the United Kingdom?
  10. What is the proper way to hang toilet paper – with the paper draped over the roll or under the roll?
  1. Generally counter clockwise. However, lots of water pressure will make the water flow straight down.
  2. 14” x 16” x ½”. A padded seat will naturally be thicker.
  3. 1.6 gallons – the 1980 standard.
  4. Five to five and ½ times per day. That’s around 2,000 flushes per year.
  5. Two.
  6. Toilet rings are generally made of beeswax, though consumers may purchase synthetic varieties.
  7. King Minos of Crete (circa 2800 B.C.) is credited with having the first water flushing toilet.
  8. John Crapper has that dubious distinction.
  9. White followed by pink then peach.
  10. There is no official manner to hang toilet paper. This question is a historical source of bitter animosities.

Joe Bouchard is a Librarian employed with the Michigan Department of Corrections and a collaborator with The International Association of Correctional Training Personnel (IACTP). He is also the author of “IACTP’s Corrections Icebreakers: The Bouchard 101, 2014”. The installments in this series include his opinions. The agency for which he works is not in any way responsible for the content or accuracy of this material, and the views are those of the contributor and not necessarily those of the agency. While some material is influenced by other works, all of the icebreakers have been developed by Joe Bouchard.

Visit the Joe Bouchard page

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