Originally Published September 25, 2007
I have accepted that my bladder is not especially efficient. I have grown accustomed to frequent bathroom breaks, and I fully expect that nature will call at the most inopportune times. By acknowledging this, I have been able to make a tenuous peace with my body, accepting the sad fact that I will never be able to speed by rest stops on the highway.
While I have made peace with my bladder, there’s something I just can’t ignore. Almost all of my lavatory experiences validate a common recurring theme; women’s public restrooms are gross. They are among the most foul and vile places I have ever seen and I have traveled a lot.
The women’s restrooms at CSUN are no exception, and I am disappointed that a community of college-educated women wouldn’t be more considerate of their surroundings.
If you followed stereotypical gender roles, you would expect women’s bathrooms to be clean. They would be nicely decorated, with matching hand towels and vanity lighting. The smell of fresh linens and raspberries would linger in the air, and classical music would float out of the ceiling. It would at least be a place to do your business without cringing at the thought of touching the door.
The ladies room is no longer a ladies room. Usually, it’s like a dim corner of hell. Heaps of crumpled paper towels pile up on the sopping counters, and irritable females glance around defensively as they guard their space in line, silently cursing their predetermined gender.
Many of the stall door locks do not work, so as you pee you must also simultaneously extend your arm to prevent someone from barging in and knocking you out with the heavy metal door.
Many people seem to forget the simple act of courtesy known as flushing. In addition to this, when people actually do flush, the toilet seat is sprayed with a shower of sewage water. This leaves cold little droplets lying in wait to attack your bare behind.
Occasionally after making a deposit, you will discover that your particular stall has no toilet paper. This will cause you to rip desperately at the tiny shred of white clinging to the cardboard roll, usually without luck.
When you need to do the infamous “squat walk” at home to grab a new roll it’s okay, but nobody would ever dare get caught performing it in public. So, you better hope your stall neighbor understands English or comprehends what it means when you wiggle your fingers under the divider and scrunch the air.
Some women find the need to create a new face in the bathroom. Fluffing your hair or powdering your nose is fine, but leaving a cloud of Aqua Net or Eau De Dead Gardenia is not cool.
The disorderly state of women’s public restrooms means sanitation is lacking. I find myself wrapping my sleeves around my hands before opening doors, and kicking the flusher handle with my shoe instead of gripping it with my fingers. I’ve mastered the art of creating a jacket for the seat out of industrial scraps of toilet paper.
Every handle, clutch or door with its streaked stainless steel is crawling with germs and bacteria, like this season’s flu, eagerly awaiting your unsuspecting immune system.
Why are public restrooms so gross? Sometimes maintenance can be blamed, but usually we are at fault for the foul conditions of our public restrooms. Humans are often disrespectful of their surroundings, but for Pete’s sake, at least flush the toilet!
Men have always wondered why women go to the bathroom in groups. For some, the answer is simply because we can. For others, it is to powder noses, yak about boyfriends, change babies or escape the masses. For me, it’s so I have someone to hold the door with the broken lock shut while I hover over the toilet seat.