SAN FRANCISCO, California - Public urination is a problem that affects densely populated areas in many large American cities, but in San Francisco, a renegade group of concerned citizens has finally decided to do something about it.
Calling themselves the "Pee Shooters," members have taken to the streets armed with slingshots in an effort to curb the city's rampant public urination problem.
"It's a simple idea, really," said Dick Shotwell, founder of the group. "When we see somebody taking a leak in public, we take a 'potshot' at 'em. No questions asked. Look here."
He held up a small, round copper pellet for my inspection.
"Let me tell you something," he said, carefully placing the pellet in his slingshot. "These mother fuckers right here? They leave a welt like you wouldn't believe!"
He stretched the band of the slingshot taut, taking aim at an aluminum can on the sidewalk about thirty yards away.
"Like, take yesterday, for instance. I nailed a homeless lady right in the butt, in mid-squat, before the golden showers could even start to fall," he recalled, releasing his hold on the slingshot.
The can flipped several feet into the air with a loud crack.
He laughed. "I didn't think she was ever gonna stop howling! I think she actually peed a little anyway."
Another man took a nasty hit in the left bollock a couple of days ago when he pulled out the one-eyed trouser trout in front of a bar rather than use the restroom inside. "I guess it's a good thing he had a backup!" noted Shotwell.
He indicated his innovative techniques rely heavily on negative reinforcement, like smacking a dog with a rolled-up newspaper when it similarly pees where it's not supposed to pee.
"We're trying to send a message, to say, look, it's totally not cool to drain the main vein, or shake the dew off your lily, or whatever, in public. If we keep at it for long enough," he explained, "hopefully they'll start getting the message. But you never know. Sometimes it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks."
Shotwell said he was inspired to start "Pee Shooters" while he was involved with a far riskier concerned citizens' group - one that ambushed bicycle thieves.
He said a typical scenario would involve him sitting at a bus stop pretending to read a newspaper while keeping an eye on a decoy bike across the street. Another volunteer might lean against a wall on the corner smoking a cigarette while two others sat talking at a nearby cafe.
Busting bicycle thieves proved far too dangerous, he said, since many of them carry knives, some carry guns, and "getting hit in the head with a pair of bolt cutters is no picnic, either.
"People taking a leak in public are a much easier target," he explained. "I mean, what are they gonna do? You know how hard it is to stop in midstream!"
Shotwell seems to have a point, but only time will tell whether or not his efforts will make a difference.
In the meantime, San Francisco residents say they are glad the recent drought seems to be lifting, as glorious rains have finally begun to flush away the lingering stench of ammonia.