Public Restrooms

“Excuse me mister if you please, I gotta go.”
-Robert Earl Keen, “I Gotta Go”

Let’s not talk about all public restrooms here; there’s no reason to bring up disgusting portables with absolutely no lighting at outdoor nighttime concerts or just people peeing freely in parks. In fact, even the facilities specifically built for relief in public areas aren’t sacred anymore. For example, the last time I was in Washington, DC, I used the bathroom next to the reflective pool between the World War II and Lincoln Memorial monuments and saw a homeless man shaving in there. He didn’t say hi back. Probably thought he was better than me. Whatever. We’re going to focus on two places: airports and restaurants.

When traveling, a new airport is part of the experience whether that’s during a layover or upon arrival. You get to explore the below-average food options that are available, people watch and guess who is traveling where and who will be the first to have a nervous breakdown, and of course, use the restroom. I will tell you this: the best airport bathrooms in the nation are at Albuquerque’s International Sunport. I’m not going to be stereotypical and tell you it’s because the city is full of Hispanic people and they’re quite good at certain custodial aspects of buildings, but there could be a connection. Okay, I guess I was stereotypical, but it’s a compliment. If I could use that airport’s bathrooms every day I would – other than my house, they’re probably the cleanest, most comfortable bathrooms around no matter the building. Every other airport is disgusting, but out of necessity, you must fight the lines, clogs, dampness, noises, smells, trash, and faulty motion sensors.

Then there are restaurants. I like to eat, but if you ever found a picture of me you would think that’s hogwash. Mmm, hog, yum. I also enjoy most cuisines and dishes I order – or at least I convince myself that the food is good if I’m going to be overpaying for it. I know that it works both ways and people are picky because they want to make their dining experience worth it, but you have to eat, and it’s not like you’re going to get your money back because they already made the food and your fingers and used fork have been all over it. Maybe a free dessert, but you don’t like the food so what’s that going to do for you? After tricking my mind, I find other ways to be annoying in food establishments – like judging the condition and design of their restrooms. I could have a horrible dinner, but if the bathroom is in extraordinary condition with clean floors and toilets, designer sinks and lighting, and johnny boards with comics or the sports sheet above the urinal, it makes the experience balanced. On the contrary, I could have the most fantastic dish of my life, but if the bathroom has paper towels and unspecified liquid (for whatever reason) on the floor, exposed pipes, and rusted porcelain under a flickering dying florescent, then I might as well just skip out on the bill and drive home (or to the airport). With all this being said, I think we’re all in agreement with the following claim: Asian restaurants have the coolest restrooms – I’m just waiting for there to be coy in the toilet water.

This was a completely pointless post, but we’ll find something to think about. Airport runners and restaurant owners, people are always judging so clean up. Travelers and food patrons, the sign that states, employees must wash their hands, isn’t just for employees. I gotta go.

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