One of the things that we still enjoy is getting together every couple of years. Sometimes it takes place in our hometown when something else is going on (I'm looking forward to a girlfriends reunion when I go home for a family reunion this summer). Sometimes we visit each other where we've settled, and other times we go someplace else. The number varies depending upon who can get away.
On a trip to Chicago a few years ago, we were in and out of many public restrooms and developed a running commentary of what we appreciated and what we really hated. I should mention that there were four of us on that trip and, for the most part, we have a "southern" point of view on most things, having been raised in the mid-south. We are not cosmopolitan, we've lived in small towns most of our lives. Alice is the exception; she lives in a large city and is a world traveler. This seems to have made her more tolerant of restrooms, hotels, etc. The rest of us are more persnickety, and I may be the most of all, if past behavior is an indicator.
I have always tried my best to avoid public restrooms. I have gone for as long as eight hours, if I'm heading for home, or if I know a clean private (or hotel) restroom awaits me. I know that this is bad for my bladder, but my bladder understands and has learned to accommodate me (as long as I head straight for the toilet upon arrival). Early training for this happened at two camps I attended as a child, where the "accommodations" were communal latrines.
Back to Chicago -- we visited the Chicago Art Institute, the Navy Pier, the Chicago Public Library, saw The Blue Man Group, the Second City, "Menopause the Musical", took the architectural boat tour, as well as shopping and eating our way through the city. This provided several opportunities for restroom use and observation. The following are observations and recommendations, based not just on our trip, but upon years of experience, with and without children in tow:
- Clean restrooms are objects of beauty and gratitude for all women. Most of us have been taught from an early age that really bad things lurk on every surface and we have passed this knowledge on to our children. We don't necessarily trust that surfaces that look clean really are, but they help to calm our nerves.
- Puddles on countertops may be tolerated; puddles on floors won't. We will open every stall door to find a dry floor; if we don't find one, our "on alert" bladders may have to wait.
- Toilet paper is expected, but not always present. A supply of one's own is to be recommended. Those who steal toilet paper should be sentenced to a term of catalog use in a dirty bathroom.
- We hate, hate, hate, toilet paper dispensers that are designed to not turn freely, so that you get one or two sheets at a time. It is false economy because we will fight back by taking as much as we can.
- Off-center toilet seats often "lean" toward the dispenser. This may be attributed to the stingy dispenser mentioned above and the necessity to lean towards it to get enough to wipe.
- Squatting is sometimes necessary if paper seats are unavailable; deep knee bends are recommended practice for young girls.
- Never put your purse on the floor. Hold it on your lap or in your teeth if you must. Even if the floor appears clean, you don't know what's been there.
- Taking a friend with you is always recommended. There is safety in numbers; the friend can hold the door closed because you can't depend upon the lock working; the friend can hold your purse if there is no hook or shelf.
- If there is a designated spot, leave a tip if you can. And thank your lucky stars that you don't clean restrooms for strangers. And appreciate those who do.
p.s. We did see some beautiful ladies rooms in Chicago and I've seen some photographs of some on blogs I've visited. I'm going to begin making photos for my own "Ladies Room Album of Honor".