A lifetime of pee? Don’t start getting proud of yourself just yet.

A lifetime of work: down the drain.
A lifetime of work: down the drain.Courtesy Artivist
So, I was lying in bed the other day wondering if my life would ever amount to anything.

Now, I can just picture your little mouths mouthing, “But, JGordon! How could you possibly think that about yourself? You have a bachelor’s degree! And you have a job that pays slightly more than minimum wage! And a beard!”

Hush, my Buzzketeers, hush. Sure, all of those things are pretty great, but when I’m gone what will remain of me? Piles of plastic packaging, probably, and maybe the beard. So what? What kind of legacy is that to leave the world? Where is my body of work? My corpus workus, as they say in Latin.

And I got to thinking, on that bleak afternoon. I tried to imagine which of the things I do every day might eventually add up into something special. The task was made difficult by the fact that I do very little every day, except, perhaps, sleep and eat. But… there is something else that I do every day, something I’ve done every day for as long as I can remember: urinate! While that may not seem like much when you think of it on the daily scale, try to imagine a lifetime of urinating – practically oceans of pee, right? Something to be proud of, certainly.

The whole thing was still on my mind as I went to work the next day. Now, it just so happens that the Human Body Gallery at the Science Museum of Minnesota has a fun little display of jugs and cartons representing the amounts of the various bodily effluvia that we produce every day, stuff like snot, and sweat, and… pee. There was something to think about! So, in between smiles and nods, I did some math.

According to the soda bottle full of yellow stuff, we produce between 4 and 8 cups of urine a day (Wikipedia verifies this although it uses that confounded and confounding metric system). I suppose that all depends on the individual person, but being a fairly average guy, I decided to settle on a nice 6 cups of urine per day. I decided, also, that I will live to be 80 years old (for the purposes of this calculation, at least). So, in 80 years there are 29,200 days. No, wait, 29,220 days (or something). At 6 cups a day, we have a lifetime accumulation 175,320 cups of pee. There are 16 cups in a gallon, so we have 10,957.5 gallons of pee. That’s a lot!

But, then again, just how much is 10,957.5 gallons exactly? Well, it would take up about 1465 cubic feet, but what is it in terms I can use? Because we’re talking about lifetime achievements here. How does my 10,957.5 gallons stack up next to, say, an Olympic size swimming pool? Now, filling an Olympic size pool, that would truly be something to be proud of.

Obviously, there are going to be different sizes of Olympic pools, but the word on the street says that they generally hold about 2,500,000 liters. Argh! That metric system again! Let’s see. There are 3.785411784 liters per gallon, so the Olympic pool would hold…

About 660,430 gallons. Oh.

That’s 649,472.5 more gallons than my 10,957.5 gallons, and, to be honest, I probably wouldn’t even have that much if you factor in my childhood (which I’m sure was sub-par when it came to urine production).

What a tremendous letdown.

To fill that Olympic pool I would need 61 lifetimes of peeing, or 60 friends saving their pee for one lifetime, and I don’t think I even know 60 other people, much less 60 other people willing to make that kind of commitment for me.

I was crestfallen. No, strike that, I am crestfallen. What else is there for me? I can’t take up scrapbooking again, not after what happened at the last meeting. What can I do?

And what can you all do? Unless you pee 60 times as much as I do, you’re all in the same rapidly filling boat as me. Start bailing.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Addendum -

I remembered something today, something which might help explain my apparent obsession. There was a period (several weeks long, at least) during which my best friend in grade school, A.B., saved his own pee.

It's maybe not quite as gross as it sounds (although it is pretty gross), so hear me out. Every day after school, A.B. would get off the bus and run into the trees just behind the garage, where he had hidden a five gallon pail (or two), and then make a deposit. I don't think he had a lid for the bucket, so, what with the late spring heat, things added up slowly. I don't know that he had a plan for his savings - I think, like me, he was just looking for a sense of accomplishment. Then again, I suppose there's all sorts of hilarity an 11-year-old with a huge bucket of pee can get up to, so maybe he did have something in mind.

It didn't matter in the end, though. His dad found the bucket one day, realized what it was (it was pretty obvious), and kicked the whole thing over. I imagine that the lawn suffered in that area. A.B. never got in trouble (because what exactly would he be getting punished for?) but I got the impression that his parents were just a little disappointed in him.

Maybe I just want to carry out A.B.'s dream.

posted on Wed, 01/02/2008 - 1:40am
Justin Johnson's picture
Justin Johnson says:

I loved this post. It had me laughing and I loved the sense of humor. Keep it up!

My pee ,compared to the size of an olympic swimming pool, puts the "P" in pathetic.

posted on Mon, 11/25/2013 - 1:02am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

sounds like me

posted on Mon, 02/11/2008 - 8:41am
Bwolfey's picture
Bwolfey says:

I'm so glad you did this work for me! I've often thought about the same sort of visual, and Olympic sized pool. Your math looks good too. I'm a little disappointed (as you are) at the results of the test but I wonder how much more volume you could get if you added ALL waste.

I mean, as of now, you're discriminating against women. They can't pee standing up! If you and 60 other dudes are going to get this Olympic sized pool to pee into, you might as well have outhouse-like structures built over the edge to collect both products. That way, the ladies can be included too. Heck, they might help the situation because they pee so much more. And plus, who has 60 guy friends anyway, gosh.

posted on Thu, 05/21/2009 - 8:13am
Angie's picture
Angie says:

Not only have humans have to pee but other animals in the world they pee all over the place i Reckon an Elephant could fill up an olympic size swimming pool in its lifetime or even a cow all that pee has to go somewhere its a good job its not done in one place we would be wading in pee

posted on Sat, 10/02/2010 - 7:57am
Rachel Erickson's picture

Just wanted to say I love the detail of your maths. I give a walking tour of Public Loos in London (long story) and enjoy quoting this figure to my guests!

Thanks for the wonderful entertainment!

posted on Sun, 08/25/2013 - 4:33pm

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