first world problems

First world problems and their variation White people problems seem to be gaining momentum as an internet topic. Glad to see that.

Google search results:

White people problems

First world problems

I tend to scoff when Mexicans call Mexico “third world.” It’s really not. I used to just correct them in a sort of self-consciously bitchy way, “It’s second,” but I’m not even really sure about that.

However, I have situations like today which give me pause. The water is shut off for five hours and counting, which happens to coincide with my having contracted some kind of stomach bacteria which is making me sick (#3 as they say). Both of these things have happened to me while living in the “first” world; however, neither was ever common enough for them to happen at the same time.

Today’s coincidence has raised another, related issue of having to decide whether its okay to use bottled water to flush the toilet. “Bottled” water is actually from a garrafón, the 20-liter sized jugs you put on water coolers, and it’s not that expensive, around $3 per garrafón. But it just seems fundamentally wrong and wasteful. I attempted it anyway, to fill up a bucket with this water to transfer it to the toilet tank, but then I realized that a tank-full uses around 1/3 of the garrafón. Wikipedia confirms that yes, the average toilet uses 4-6 liters per flush.

That’s a lot of valuable drinking water that I therefore feel like I am squandering, on the luxury of indoor waste management. I guess that counts as a second-world problem, definitely not a third-world one.

But…. might it actually be a first-world problem? It’s no iPhone or Starbucks complaint, but the first world DOES flush its toilets with drinking water. Enough drinking water to keep a person hydrated for a day or two, even.

Hm. Did I just conclude that water outages are a first-world problem? I’m not sure, but I definitely did just realize that flushing potable water down the toilet sucks. I kind of want to fill the tank with Coke or champagne or something instead.


5 responses to “first world problems

  1. I have an ongoing dispute with my girlfriend about whether it’s ok for me to leave buckets of water around the house. To me if there’s water flowing (eg in the shower, under a tap) then there should be a bucket under it to catch as much runoff as possible. And then, yes, the bucket becomes a free flush. Apparently it’s not normal to have multiple buckets and jugs sitting about half-full of water. Anyway not sure whether its a first or third world problem, but totally agree with you that Mexico really problematises the first/third, developed/developing world thing. But then so do a lot of places, I suspect…

  2. What?!? How did I miss those? Will any photos be forthcoming?

    Some of my paisanos in more drought-prone regions of Oz have a rule that men pee in the back yard. That’s probably waste management at its most efficient.

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