Public Warning – Listening to the Toilet

Art Botterell’s idea for a warning system that transmitted good news rather than bad news was provocative and reminded me of something. Finally, I recalled what it was: the hilarious description near the end of Gravity’s Rainbow of how to use a toilet as a warning device:

“The basic idea is that They will come and shut off the water first […] Shutting off the water interdicts the toilet: with only one tankful left, you really can’t get rid of much of anything any more, dope, shit, documents, They’ve stopped the inflow/outflow […] So its good policy always to have the toilet valve cracked a bit, to maintain some flow through the toilet so when it stops you’ll have that extra minute or two. Which is not the usual paranoia of waiting for a knock, or a phone to ring: no, it takes a particular kind of mental illness to sit and listen for a cessation of noise….”
Gravity’s Rainbow, page 694.

Original story: Reinventing 911

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