One Thousand Words – Food 6, Bathroom 10

I am just germaphobic enough that public restrooms gross me out.

It’s the thought of all those naked butts sitting on the same toilet seat. Who knows where those butts have been.

And I can’t use a public toilet that hasn’t been flushed. To quote “The Biscuit” from Ally McBeal, “I like a fresh bowl.” I coveted his remote control toilet flusher.

Unfortunately, the restroom at work is public. And since the bus stop was moved to the front of the building, it’s an extremely popular facility.

We have a group of young people who use take the buses that I classify as “Upper Valley Urban.” I don’t know if they grew up here or moved here from somewhere else, but they dress like they live in a city. Or how they think city people dress.

There are boy ganstas, with their long shorts (worn too low), basketball jerseys and baseball caps. Some of them even wear gold chains.

And the girl’s outfits consist of super tight jeans, brightly colored hoodies, giant hoop earrings, long fingernails with designs on them and lots of hair.

It’s not that I’m judging them based on their clothes. They can wear whatever styles they like, as far as I’m concerned. It’s just looks sort of silly for rural Northern New England. Like they are trying too hard to be cool, or whatever the current slang for cool is.

While they are waiting for the bus, the girls have decided the restroom is the place to hang out and it often looks more like a salon than public toilets.

One day, I almost tripped over a girl in the entryway. She was sitting on the floor, using a flat-iron. She didn’t apologize for taking up almost the entire area with her hair accessories. But she did say, “This is the only outlet,” like the city should be ashamed for not providing more appropriate spots for stylizing.

I hope she never discovers that there is a full dressing room downstairs, complete with makeup lights and outlets at each station.

On Friday, I walked in to discover a pile of eyeliner pencil shavings on the counter. I guess sharpening and using the eyeliner was so tiring that throwing away the shavings was out of the question.

One of the things that always amazes me when I’m using the restroom at work is how many woman don’t bother to wash their hands.

I thought that everyone knew how important hand washing is by now.

And it’s not just woman who look unkempt. Well dressed, educated-looking women in business suits and carrying briefcases don’t bother to wash.

That’s the reason I race to use the hand sanitizer as soon as I can after shaking someone’s hand. You never know if they are a washer or not.

A few years ago I had an idea to create a rating system and rank all of the public restrooms in the area.

I wouldn’t go out of my way to find them all, just rate them as I used them. I figured that way I would always know which restroom was safe and which should be avoided.

I never actually undertook the project, at least in writing, but I do tend to rank the restrooms I use.

The rating that receives the most weight, of course, is cleanliness.

I can’t imagine that it’s easy to keep a public restroom clean. I know that during concerts ours becomes a wreck. Paper towels on the floor, water all over the place. You have to wonder what people’s personal bathrooms look like if they throw trash on the floor in public.

And many stores don’t have specific janitorial staff. The poor salespeople have to clean up the restroom messes on top of dealing with customers.

But that’s still no excuse.

The worst is when they have one of those little lists on the door to prove that they check the restroom regularly. Those are usually the dirtiest. It’s almost like the checklist absolves them of cleaning. They just have to look and sign.

The rating is also based on supplies.

Most important is whether or not there is toilet paper because running out of toilet paper is the worst.

Restrooms get marked down for having dryers instead of paper towel. Even though they are cleaner because there is less trash, I can never get my hands dry with the stupid things. I’m just too impatient to stand there.

There are also points for whether or not the soap dispenser works. The soap’s scent is important too. You want your hands to smell nice after washing them.

I also take into consideration the placement of the supplies. The soap should be right near the sink, and there should be one for every sink.

The paper towels should be conveniently located too, because I hate wandering across the restroom with wet, dripping hands.

It also causes a slip hazard; all those drips make the floors slick.

And finally there are bonus points for automated dispensers, both soap and paper towels. The less I have to touch in a public restroom, the better.

I went out to breakfast this morning and gave the restaurant’s restroom a rare ten.

It was clean and the stalls were spacious. There was a hook on the door too, so I didn’t have to put my bag on the germ-laden floor.

All the supplies were in stock, and I could reach the soap and paper towels while standing at the sink.

The soap, faucet and paper towels were all motion sensor, so I didn’t have to touch a thing.

The icing on the cake was that the trashcan was located right next to the door, so I could use the paper towel on the handle and throw it away before I walked out.

I didn’t have to touch one germy thing after washing my hands.

Tasty food is all well and good, but isn’t a nice bathroom more important to a restaurant’s success?


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