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Carol Perkins: Public Restrooms

The next earlier Carol Perkins column: Carol Perkins: The Red Box

By Carol Perkins

Public bathrooms are the best and the worst of places. I can guide you to every bathroom in every department store, grocery store, or restaurant that I have ever frequented. If a person travels with me, she will never be too far away from a bathroom. Comes with age.

Restrooms have changed since my youth. There was a time when a person needed money to open a bathroom door. I think it was a dime. Much like a bubble gum machine, a user slipped the dime into a slot, turned the crank, and opened the door. If desperate and without a dime, some have resorted to crawling under the door or climbing over it. Others did it for the challenge. I would not have crawled on a dirty floor!

Rest stops along any interstate I have traveled are familiar to me. My car automatically veers off the ramp and stops in front of the door. Even if I may not be in an urgent state, I don't take chances.

These rest stops are beautiful structures compared to those of the early days. Million dollar buildings house bathrooms, provide maps for travelers, and sell snacks. Seems a little palatial for merely a pit stop. Kentucky has some of the most extravagant. The worst days were when businesses were not required to provide bathrooms for customers, and if a person were desperate he might have to rush to the facilities in the courthouse yard. NASTY for sure! Every Tom, Dick, and Sally, diseased or not, probably visited those bathrooms, which were usually cleaned about once a month, if that often.

There is a certain caution or even fear surrounding the use of public restrooms. That is why we kick open the stall doors when we can, lay down paper, and wash our hands only after turning on the faucet with our elbows. Then we turn it off the same way, elbow down the lever on the paper towel dispenser, dry, and shoulder out the door. However, Dr. Oz once said that he never knew of any illnesses being traced back to a toilet seat.

Children and bathrooms are sometimes a problem, too. Recently, I took my grandchildren (two boys and girl) to the movies and, of course, at the end of the movie I needed a bathroom stop and so did my granddaughter. Not wanting to leave the two boys outside the restroom alone, I tried to urge them to stand inside the door. The seven year old declared, "I'm not going into a girls' bathroom!" Even though I didn't want to cave, I left him and the male five-year-old outside the restroom, promising not to move.

Bathrooms, especially those at a school, are also places to view phone numbers for a good time, learn who isn't a nice person and everyone hates, and religious messages like "Jesus Loves You." I bet some of you have left messages on bathroom walls.

School bathrooms are also smoking areas for students who think they can puff inside a stall without anyone knowing or smelling. Teachers have caught many guilty parties who didn't know we were anywhere near. Smoke rolling from the stall and a belligerent girl would say, "Prove it." My answer would be, "Prove you weren't."

Senior boys always got some kind of enjoyment pushing freshman boys into girls' bathrooms, as if this was the worst place in the world for a boy to be. Lame fun, but has been happening for years. Girls sometimes use school bathrooms to bully other girls. That is why some students never use the bathroom all day.

I am grateful for bathrooms in public facilities. They may not be the most glorious places to frequent, but those of us whose theme song is, "Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go right now", appreciate them. This story is definitely in the toilet!

This story was posted on 2011-03-20 11:36:08
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