Sunday, January 14, 2007

Discriminating Tastes

In my decade of legal drinking, I've come to the realization that bar restrooms are much like Longfellow's "Little Girl": when they're good, they're very good, but when they are bad, they are horrid.

What makes a bad bar restroom?
  • Filth. Typically, the bad ones are so dirty that germs fear to incubate there.
  • Poor lighting. Just the thing for enabling the drunks to navigate the puddles of dubious origin that almost always dot the floor.
  • Doors that don't lock, or that have such big gaps between the door and the frame that you might just as well not even have the door shut. Bathroom time is private time!
  • No hot water. Look, your germ-infested bathroom is attached to a place where people are putting things into their mouths. Perhaps you even serve something (probably deep-fried) masquerading as "food". Wouldn't it be prudent to provide people with the tools to reduce the odds that they will pass some disease to the people they're sharing an order of wings with? Yes, I am fully aware that not all of them will take advantage of this. Still, it seems like you'd like to make inroads where possible.
  • No soap. See above.
  • No toilet paper. For pity's sake, it's not like the ladies can just give it a shake, you know? And some of us might be planning to hook up after this, so maybe we don't want to drip dry. Or maybe we just plain don't want to drip dry. It's pretty gross.
  • Only one stall for a crowded bar. If you have more than 10 tables or regularly entertain 100 or more patrons, you need more than one stall. It's not like the ladies can share the bowl in an emergency. One stall and 10 or 15 women waiting to use it means that people are getting smacked by the door to the hall/ bar, or else the door is being held open (see above, re: bathroom time is private time), women are trying to rush and they start to take short cuts with the whole handwashing thing, except then there are always a couple of oblivious princesses who stand in front of the sink so that they can primp in the mirror and then other women get stuck waiting to wash their hands and it all turns into one big, unhygenic traffic jam.

The good ones?
  • Not making you gag when you walk through the door is a good first step
  • Make it drunk proof. This means no wobbly toilet seats, no doors that require you to shimmy around them in order to get in or out of the stall, no steps in weird places-- this means you, Place that makes you step up into the dimly lit stall, put in more than one 40 watt bulb, and for the love of St. Francis, please don't use those stupid faucets where you have to hold it down to make the water come out. Those suck royally-- and make it impossible to effectively wash your hands, you morons!-- when you are sober. They become an insurmountable obstacle when impaired.
  • Sufficient supplies. That means toilet paper, paper towels (those stupid hot air blowers just cover your freshly washed hands in germs), and a functioning tampon machine (every girl gets caught out every once in a while).
  • Hot water to wash your hands. And none of that nasty combination lotion-soap that won't rinse off, no matter what.
  • Doors that open out, not in. It's just easier to get in and out of the stalls without unnecessary proximity to the toilet.
The cream of the crop, the Taj Mahal of ladies' rooms?
  • Use actual 2-ply toilet paper, not that half-ply institutional crap that most places use. Yes, I know it's all about the
  • Have pretty, smelly things for you to use. Yeah, I carry a little bottle of lotion with me most of the time, but it's a nice gesture, and I always like to try something new.
  • Hot water and those little automatic sensor faucets, so I don't have to touch the knob that some other woman touched with her germy hands when she turned the water on so that she could flick her hands through the water and leave the restroom thinking that she washed her hands (yeah, real effective, moron. Don't even think I'm sharing so much as a potato chip with you, ever again, you walking germ factory.). The water at work, for example, gets so hot that I figure any germ able to withstand it has earned the right to infect me.
  • An antechamber where you can wait for the next open stall, or primp, or whatever. It's just nicer for everyone involved.
Really, though, what it comes down to is cleanliness. I don't need to eat off the floors or anything, but I don't want to be able to vividly imagine the individual germs crawling all over my skin, either. Which brings me to one of the many things that I like more about my job than about going to law school: people here know how to use a public restroom. I've never yet walked into a stall with something gross in it or on it cf. law school. No one leaves used tampons in the bowl or anywhere else visible. No one walks away without flushing, or leaves urine splashed on the seat or on the floor.

Working with grownups is awesome.


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