Friday, September 26, 2008

Down the Drain

Welcome to an experiment in more ways than one! For my first "real" assignment in Newsgathering (journalism bootcamp for first year master's students), we had to do a "micro-beat" at last week's home football game. Aside from feeling important because of our press pases, it was a ton of fun.

I chose to focus on the bathrooms (big surprise...hold the groans, please!). Out of my on-site reporting I created a short written piece and my partner and I made a podcast.

Hope this works...enjoy!

Two jumbo rolls.

That’s how much toilet paper is flushed down each toilet at the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Folsom Field during Thursday night’s football game. Ning Sengeara knows this because it’s her job to clean the bathrooms. The Buffaloes took on the West Virgina Mountaineers. She took on mountains of paper towels.

Sengeara guesses each of the several hundred toilets will see 300 flushes. “Each woman goes at least five times.”

A woman waiting in line confirms this: “It’s my third trip in 20 minutes. I’m like an 85-year-old woman.”

Judging from the company Sengeara shares her workplace with you’d think this was Folsom Prison, not Folsom Field.

Three police officers file into a restroom on the east side of the indoor track. The woman standing on a toilet seat to gossip with a friend doesn’t notice as they escort someone out.

A girl apologizes and pushes to the front in a student section restroom, one hand around the shoulders of a friend with blood streaming down her face. “We just need to get to a sink.”

Several EMTs huddle outside a restroom. Inside, a woman is sitting cross-legged on the floor with her back against a locked stall door.

The floors are concrete so the whole mess can be hosed down the drain at the end of the night.

“It’s hard work,” says Sengeara, smiling shyly and mopping.

Sengeara and her colleagues will be scrubbing toilets and sinks by hand until 2 a.m., long after the fans stumble home. It’s the only way to get them clean.

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