I’ve found a new low in etiquette, and it’s people who put others on speakerphone in public washrooms. Yes, that has happened to me on more than one occasion. Thank you, kind sir, for putting me in the embarrassing position of having to choose whether to wait until you are done checking whether you are over your minutes on your phone plan or grossing out the poor call center guy on the other end of the line when he realizes where you are. (I flushed. I’ve got things to do.)
When humans first started building, who thought public toilets were a good idea? Our ancestors didn’t all use the bushes at the same time; we went off for some alone time. So why the change? If you’re anything like me, you’d rather wear a diaper than use a communal loo. Okay, maybe not literally, but the thought has crossed your mind as you crossed your legs. Public washrooms are humanity at its worst. I know because I’ve had to clean up after you.
It’s not like I think there shouldn’t be public facilities. Obviously, when you gotta go, you gotta go, and anything is better than squatting in the street. But have you ever thought that the experience could be a lot less humiliating? I’d like to take you on a tour and let you decide for yourself.
The first thing you think of when you open the door is how many people don’t wash their hands properly every time they go to the washroom. (It’s 95%) If you’re lucky, it’ll have one of those hedge mazes without a door, and no one else is leaving at the same time as you are going in. They’re always too narrow and no one is sure which one of you should back up. Anyway, you immediately clamp your hand over your face to block out the stench that was some stranger’s chipotle burrito a few scant hours earlier and the harsh, nauseating chemicals that they use in a vain attempt to convince you that you’ve stepped through a magical portal into a pine forest.
There are always too many sinks. I have been in many bathroom lines in my life, but I’ve never had to wait to wash my hands. Drying them is a different story, especially when they use the blowers that never work, and you always wind up wiping your hands on your pants anyway. Probably my least favorite feature are the partitions, with their doors that don’t lock properly, their complete lack of soundproofing, and the huge gaping holes underneath and along the door that give you all the privacy of a prison shower. Plus the doors open in, so you practically have to climb up on the seat to get in and out.
It seems everyone has gone the route of the evil electronic eye which always flushes while you’re sitting down, splashing filthy water on your tender regions. We had it wrong people — THIS is how Skynet gets started. If you weren’t creeped out enough by having to share facilities with people of questionable hygiene, now the machines are keeping track of your bowel movements. It’s only a matter of time until the toilets are crushing skulls in a post-apocalyptic hellscape. The Romans had public baths and where are they now?! I’m not saying that public washrooms are going to be the downfall of civilization, but can we really take that chance?
Seriously, here is my brilliant design idea presented absolutely free of charge – foot petals. On everything. The toilets, the sinks, the towel dispensers. Everything. Because let’s face it – you almost always use your foot to flush anyway. When I worked in manufacturing, the hand-wash stations were foot operated because you’re hands were covered in grease or other things that you didn’t want to get on the taps. And guess what? It worked great. It was reliable, convenient, stayed on for as long as you were using it, and shut off when you left. Yet I have never seen a foot-operated fixture in a public bathroom.
The simple facts: Adding the men’s and women’s together, an average-sized washroom with three sinks and three stalls each is about 200 square feet (20 m2). In that same space you could build six separate washrooms of about thirty square feet (3 m2), each with its own toilet, sink, towel dispenser, and change table. Now you can safely take your kids in, and the men will have to wait in line like the women always do.
Also, the two luxuries everyone wants – some privacy and a little dignity.