Being of an age where his bladder is not what it was, Alf has some sympathy for the Upper Hutt woman who opted to pee into a plastic bag in front of passengers on a broken-down Wellington train.
He also understands why she would not want to be identified.
But he does wonder what Tranz Metrol is supposed to do when a fallen power line causes an electrical fault, forcing the train to a standstill for nearly two hours.
Here’s how Stuff tells it:
Passengers were told they could not leave the train while it was being repaired, as a live electrical cable was resting on the carriage.
So what were the train staff supposed to do?
Let the woman off the train for her pee but risk watching her sizzle in a cloud of sparks which – naturally – would have raised a public hullabaloo.
This was tough luck for the woman who was desperate to use a toilet.
She felt she had no option but to urinate into a plastic bag in a carriage containing about 20 other passengers.
“I just tried to hide between the seats,” she said.
“After a while I got to a point where I was like ‘I just need to pee, I don’t care about anything else, I just need to pee.
“After I had finished I just sat there in shock and started crying. It was so humiliating, the most embarrassing moment of my life.”
The Fairfax hacks have made a big deal of trains on Wellington’s suburban routes having no toilets.
They might usefully point out that buses don’t have toilets either.
In the normal course of events passengers should be able to get from departure point to destination without having to pee into a plastic bag.
Mind you, this normal travel time might be too long for Gerard Depardieu, the French film star who urinated on the floor of an airplane — while passengers looked on — after a skirmish with a flight attendant.
At least, that’s the account of a fellow passenger.
The actor, 62, was on a delayed Air France flight from Paris to Dublin on Tuesday when he demanded permission to leave his seat and relieve himself.
A passenger named “Danielle” told French radio station Europe 1 that Depardieu exclaimed “I want to piss, I want to piss” — but to no avail. A flight attendant informed him that the toilets were locked as the plane ascended to cruising altitude, and that the star would have to wait 15 minutes.
Depardieu (perhaps the most well known French actor) then took matters into his own hands — unzipping his pants and urinated on the carpet.
“And there and then he stood up and did it on the floor,” the passenger claimed. “We could see he had been drinking. The stewardess was dumbfounded.”
Peeing on the floor of the carriage obviously was an option for the Upper Hutt woman, rather than peeing into a plastic bag, but obviously she is somewhat coy about these matter.
When passengers were finally allowed to leave, she took her bag of urinary waste with her – but tried to be discreet by ensuring she was the last to leave the carriage.
“It was disgusting and so embarrassing. I hid from everyone. I made sure I was the last person off the train.”
Her coyness, we may suppose, also dissuaded her from filing a complain. She said she felt uncomfortable that her name would be documented in reation to the incident.
“I didn’t want to email the complaints person because I knew it would go through a system, and the more people seeing it associated with my name, the less comfortable I was with it,” she said.
Tranz Metro manager Scott Brooks has explained the dangers of stepping off the train in circumstances (extremely rare) like this:
“As overhead lines usually carry a load of 15,000 volts, when incidents like this occur customers are held on board until we are certain there is no risk to their safety,” Brooks said.
Greater Wellington Regional Council rail operations manager Angus Gabara contributes to our understanding by explaining why there are no toilets on the train. He said toilets for emergencies are costly to install and maintain, and take up a lot of space.
The cost has to be weighed against the extremely low probability of emergencies occurring where people are going to need to use a toilet.
“If we installed toilets on the current fleet, we’d lose 498 seats and it would cost at least $16 million.”
We are left to wonder if this means $16 million a year – or what?
It must be noted that the coy passenger who was overcome by the need to pee into a plastic bag says she did send an email to Fran Wilde, chairwoman of the regional transport committee.
And guess what?
The former Labour Cabinet Minister (back in the 1980s) did not respond.
This is the sort of thing we can expect from a Labour politician.
Oh, and let’s not forget that in 1985 Wile introduced the Homosexual Law Reform Bill which decriminalised homosexuality.
Alf was among the opponents who predicted dire consequences for the family, boys’ schools and the spread of AIDS.
He now wryly observes that if the Upper Hutt woman had emailed Wilde to complain about her plight as a poofter rather than a piddler, she might have teased a response from Alf’s political foe.