I just arrived home from a 4,000 mile road trip.
Here's what that means.
I have used approximately 38 public restrooms. I know. Oooh.
I doubt that I have hardly any male readers, but in the event that you are one of those who just stumbled onto my blog, let me give you an opportunity to go now. You will understand little of what I write about here. Only my "sisters of the squat" will understand. So there. You've been warned.
I will admit that it is a little odd, and maybe disturbing even, that out of all the things to ponder, I am pondering public potties. But hey. It is was it is.
I, like many of you, was taught at an early age to regard public restrooms with great disdain. I was also taught to enter them with extreme caution. So I do.
Don't. Touch. Anything.
That means I open all doors by pushing with shoulder or hip--never, ever with my hands. In the unfortunate event that a "pull" door is encountered, I use a paper towel to avoid actually touching anything. Even when I have no plan to "sit" on the toilet, I still take the time to tear four lengths of toilet paper...each approximately 12 inches long, to be placed on the north, south, east and west sides of the toilet. Never, under any circumstance, no matter how great the urgency, do I forgo this step. I always flush with my foot. After washing hands, if given the choice of paper towels or an electric hand dryer, I always go with paper towels--unless, heaven forbid, I am in an archaic restroom that has those horrid rolling cloth towels. Then it is mandatory that I choose the electric dryer. Also, it is a good idea to have hand sanitizer in my bag just in case the hand soap container is empty. I don't forget to have a paper towel in hand as I prepare to exit just in case I have to "pull" a door. If the restroom I just left was without soap or toilet paper, it is my civic duty to report it to the cashier. I have been known to stand in line to do so. Can I get a witness?
After my most recent, and by far my longest, road trip adventure, I have a whole new dislike for public restrooms in general. It was, however, the restroom at about mile 3,882 that did me in.
It was late. I was tired. Then there it was, like a beacon in the night. The glowing green and white Starbucks sign. "Oh they have nice restrooms," I thought. And that was before I remembered that they had seat covers, too! Imagine my excitement. So the hubby goes for the coffee and I go for the bathroom. Shoulder pushing open door. Good. Oops. Toilet seat cover dispenser empty. No worries. Plenty of toilet paper on the roll. Then it happened. The straw broke the proverbial camel's back. The sleek-looking, male-designed, Georgia Pacific spring-loaded toilet paper machine would only give me two squares at a time. Two. If you tell me you have never, in the privacy of a stall, silently mouthed a scream at a contraption like this I might be inclined to think you were lying. I know this thing was designed by a man because a woman would never be so cruel! Do you know how long it takes, at two squares at a time, to get the 48 inches necessary to cover the toilet? Girlfriends, you know that is just a recipe for disaster.
Anyway, that was the restroom that pushed me over the edge and made me ponder for the remaining hour-long ride home all the things that really tick me off about public restrooms.
Here we go.
Stalls that don't have a hook on the door for my purse. I refuse to put my purse anywhere near the floor. Sometimes I just hang it around my neck.
Worthless hand dryers. What is the point? I want an Excelsior that just about blows my skin off.
A regular bottle of hand soap like I use at home. NO. A public restroom should have the industrial size dispenser mounted on the wall. It is way more sanitary. In my mind, anyway.
Sticky floors. With each step, you are a little more grossed out. I will do anything to insure that my pants don't come anywhere near that floor. I will roll them up to my knees if I have to. Once outside, I will find the nearest patch of grass/weeds and rub my shoes in it until I imagine that all the germ-y stickiness is gone.
Cracks in the stall doors. I want privacy. You want privacy. We don't want anyone even catching one glimpse of what goes on in the stall.
One-ply toilet paper. I have been known to use half a roll during one visit. And I'll admit that when, in irritation, I flush (with my foot, of course), I secretly hope the dang toilet clogs and overflows. That'll teach them to skimp on toilet paper. Again, I know beyond a doubt that a guy is in charge of purchasing this kind of TP. How do I know? Because every time I send my husband to the store to buy it, he comes home with the same kind. That's how I know.
Too-small stalls. You know the ones. It's like the bathroom designer miscalculated the space and so one of three stalls has to be just a smidge too small. Oh yeah. A smidge. It's like when you walk into the stall you have to wedge yourself between the back wall and the toilet just to close the door. This makes the "don't touch anything" rule impossible. I just have to go to my happy place at this point. This is the stall where there is about 8-inches of clearance between the toilet and the door. Clearly problematic.
Stall doors with broken latch. No problem if you have a bathroom buddy to guard the door. But if you're flying solo a huge problem. I personally use the "check-under-the-door-for-feet" system before I enter a stall. That simple measure can prevent an awkward moment. It's the kind of surprise no one wants.
When restrooms are portables. Uh-uh. No.
Well, these are my top nine anyway.
During my road trip, I went to the restroom at a restaurant. When I walked in, both stalls were in use. By a little girl, her mother and her grandmother. The grandmother and the little girl were doing a "happy dance" because the little girl had gone in the big girl potty. As they danced around outside the stall they chanted, "Go Sophia, go Sophia...you went potty, you went potty". They seemed oblivious to the fact that an absolute stranger was witnessing, at close range, this lovely little moment between a grandmother and granddaughter. Honest to goodness truth. I've never seen anything like it in a public restroom, but then I'd never been to Kentucky.
From her own stall, the mother said in a voice just dripping with southern drawl, "Sophia, did you put some paper on the potty before you went pee? Sophia, you have to put paper on the potty when you go pee!" Sophia isn't listening. She's still doing the happy dance with Grandma. When I left the bathroom, Sophia was still there, having the best time washing her hands, happy and unaware that she'd just broken most all my rules for using a public restroom. Her mother looked at me and said, "It's always an adventure taking my girl to the bathroom".
Oh my. Maybe it's just me being a kill-joy, but I say that a public restroom is really no place for adventure. I will stand by that until the day I die.
Some people look forward to getting home to their own beds after being gone on a long trip.
Me? I'm just thankful for my own loo.