Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Sea Level High Club

There is this particular bathroom in the Government Center at Principia College that deserves honorable mention as the most poorly designed bathroom in the entire mid-west. It isn't that the space is too small to move around in without hitting your face on the door or that it's one of those with the urinals without borders between them or that there's no doors on the bathroom stalls. It's not even one of those bathrooms you have to get key to it from some grouchy old woman at the register who delights in this small measure of power, or that you have to negotiate entrance to by answering riddles, or the kind with the malfunctioning auto-flushers that get you while you're still sitting or have just walked in. There are no drug deals taking place or condoms being dispensed in this bathroom. As far as I know, there aren't cameras or secret wire tappings going on in there. No, this bathroom is exactly like a bathroom you might find in your house: A toilet, a sink, and a mirror. The problem is that from the outside, you would expect it to have more than one toilet, and once you're inside, you're wondering why they bothered to wall off only one toilet. The toilet is sectioned off by your standard public restroom wall, and the door into the bathroom is your standard public restroom door (push plate on the inside, grab handle on the outside, no lock). Assuming a larger space with more accommodations, you unwittingly walk into what SHOULD have been a "one person at a time" bathroom. So the remaining square meter of bathroom becomes a waiting lounge for everybody else if the single toilet is in use. It feels like being trapped in an airplane bathroom with someone (or someones). It's like, imagine if that space at the end of the airplane where you normally stand in line for the toilet was included in the actual airplane bathroom space. All you can do is stand around a few feet from them while they do their business. You can't leave, of course, you've DEDICATED to the action. You're IN the bathroom already. You've gotta GO. What will the people outside think? Besides that, the mirror isn't over the sink, so if you come out of the toilet and are washing your hands and want to make sure there's nothing goofy on your face, you have to lean a couple feet to your left, which, in itself isn't all that bad, but if anyone comes in, they'll know you were looking in the mirror, and in a men's bathroom, that's considered just taboo enough to make it a risky decision. You can feel the mild judgment radiating from them like being trapped in a Hot Pocket crisping sleeve, "Looks like somebody cares about their appearance...FAG." No thanks, I'll take my chances with spinach teeth.

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