"In Which Alex Berate Public Restrooms" By Alex P.

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Public restrooms are not for the weak of heart...

Check out this clip from the film "Trainspotting".


Imagine you are enjoying a balmy, relaxing afternoon with your friends at the park. The gang is all there, just sitting around, having a good laugh, and enjoying each other’s company. One of your companions is in the midst of relating a humorous encounter he once had with a gaggle of midgets, when your interest is interrupted by a disagreeable sensation in your bladder. Your efforts to remain hydrated have backfired. You discretely excuse yourself from the group and reluctantly make your way toward the dreaded PUBLIC RESTROOM.

Found in restaurants, movie theaters, and stores, on beaches, and even airplanes, all of mankind is repeatedly subjected to the rape of humanity known as the public restroom. Frequently used as a universal garbage can, doodle pad and phonebook, the public restroom relentlessly succeeds in disgusting, disgruntling, and disturbing those unfortunate souls forced to alleviate themselves within their filthy, graffiti stricken walls. The public restroom is ceaselessly tactless, leaving no one safe from its evil grasp in a situation gone awry.

The list of grievances against public restrooms is endless, but I shall comment on those most aggravating as follows:

Graffiti- While some etchings are indeed entertaining, the vast majority of graffiti found in public restrooms is vulgar and repugnant and/or just plain useless. I have absolutely zero desire to read about the sex lives of Ryan and Lauren or a description of Gregg’s excrement. And why Bethany felt so compelled to inform all future users of a gas station restroom in Fillmore that she, too, once sat where they are now, is beyond me. (Also, I bet that at least half of the people who leave their phone numbers either get raped or their identity stolen). It is bad enough that one must use a public restroom to begin with, but to be bombarded with such tasteless messages on top of it, is foul.

Missing the toilet!?- This is one that I just do not understand. Unless you are out of your mind drunk, I should think that missing the common American toilet is a pretty impossible feat. It is a fourteen-inch wide porcelain bowl for Christ’s sake! And even if you are drunk, most stalls are not exactly roomy, so even if you just fall backward, there is probably an 80% chance you will land on a toilet. Yet, I continue to encounter sprinklings of urine on restroom floors time and time again (thankfully, I have yet to find feces…). It is absolutely repulsive! Just because I want to relieve myself of waste does not mean that I want it on my shoes.

Negative sensory overload- From fungus to rust to grime to bacteria, public restrooms are a plague on the senses. Even in finer, cleaner public restrooms, the chemical scent of cleaning fluid lingers long after one has exited and the stark white counters are blinding.

Running out of toilet paper- Don’t you just hate when this happens? You are sitting in the stall, finished with your business and ready to get on with your life, when you look down, only to find a bare roll of cardboard. If you were in the comfort of your own home, you could easily just grab another roll off the back of the toilet or from a nearby cupboard or wherever your TP resides. But oh no, such comforts are not allotted in public restrooms. Instead, your options are to awkwardly ask the person in the stall beside you (if you are lucky, they might actually be a person you came in with), or, if you are privileged with seat covers, you can wipe with one of those. Now, those seat covers, I suppose they do take care of the job at hand, but crinkly, pokey, papery mess just is not synonymous with proper toilet paper.

People who talk to each other between stalls- This one is perhaps the most agitating of all. Whether it is gossip, complaints, or casually discussing the day’s weather, the entire restroom population does not need to hear it! Please save your idle chatter for a more appropriate location, or at the very least, wait until you can quietly discuss such pressing business.

Those conniving hand dryers- With the exception of those high powered Dyson hand dryers that I have only seen in airports, the air hand dryers of public restrooms are certainly less than satisfactory. The white box with big silver button and fan nozzle mocks me. I mean, it sounds so appealing, what with saving the trees and all, but let’s face it, how often are your hands actually dry after using one of those? In less than forty-five minutes? You see, it is the terry cloth towel, found in private restrooms around the globe, that provides the optimum comfort and drying experience. Sometime I wonder if maybe I should just carry around my own towel everywhere I go…

And yet, like a metabolic substance addiction, we continue to use public restrooms, day after day, regardless of our attempts to avoid them. We drown under the influence of their fatal grasp. Our species’ so called advanced perception of privacy and modesty has led us to become forever entangled in the misery and woe of the public restroom. Why do we put up with all of it? Just to spare our kidneys and bowels? Sometime I wonder if humans are really better off than our animal relatives.