City Mysteries of Seattle: Portable Sanitation Edition
posted by August 27 at 10:55 AMon
They baffled and entranced me upon my arrival in Seattle in 1991, and continue to do so to this day: Honey Buckets, the Northwest’s #1 provider of portable sanitation, whose portable sanitation units are called, upsettingly and inexplicably, Honey Buckets.
The mystery of the Honey Bucket is reinvigorated each time I have out-of-town visitors, who invariably can’t believe their eyes. Among the evergreen exclamations: “I thought you were kidding!”; “That’s the actual name?”; “Holy shit!”
The great unanswered questions roiling under every exclamation: Who thought naming a line of portable toilets ‘Honey Buckets’ was a good idea, and why? After ‘Honey Bucket,’ what were the runner-up name choices? And what part of human waste is even vaguely reminiscent of honey?
Imaginary answers to these imaginary questions aren’t pretty. My best guess at the origin of the name is horrible, positing humans as “Pooh Bears” who are eternally attracted to the “Honey Bucket.” My best guess for the rejected runner-up name is “Stink Office.” I have no guesses about the human waste/honey connection.
One can only imagine that someone considered “Honey Bucket” a pleasant euphemism for “plastic crap shack.” But the whole point of euphemism is to diminish unpleasantness (i.e. “passed away” for “dropped dead”) and the Honey Bucket “euphemism” only serves to rub our faces in the sticky-sweet brownness of it all.
No matter what kind of unpleasantness occurs along the way, the whole “explaining Honey Buckets to out-of-town visitors” experience always ends in amazement, when I reveal that Honey Bucket has a competitor in the local waste-disposal business, and this competitor has an even more upsetting name. I’m not kidding.