I’m not a great lover of public toilets. I was the kid at school, who never wanted to go when the teacher said we had to, before coming in after morning tea and lunch breaks! As I got older, into high school, I think I spent more time smoking in the toilets rather than using them for what they were designed for. (Feel free to edit as you read this to Mum, Sister Dear!)
However, after 3 babies and the fact that my age is creeping towards a Seniors card, as well as my increasing amount of air travel, I am finding myself having to frequent these public places of terror! I have to mention that aeroplane toilets are my worst nightmare …. unless I’m travelling Business Class – then I’ve been known to spent extensive time trying out all the creams and perfumes!!
Public toilets have developed a lot over recent years but due to my sporadic use, I have not kept up with all the changes. Thankfully, in the airports, shopping centres and restaurants, they seem to be maintained more frequently, leading to an overall cleaner experience. You have a choice, when flushing, of a half flush or a full flush. Some still have taps that need to be turned on but others have push button taps that give you a specific amount of water and mostly soap is liquid or foam. You now have a variety of ways to dry your hands after washing, with paper towels, real towels or electric blowers. Some of the blowers start automatically, when you insert your hands or wave them in the vicinity. All great improvements.
Of course, some are a little sad e.g. the blue lights to make it more difficult for drug users to inject themselves and another I am a little disappointed to see – less clever comments scrawled on the back of the cubicle doors for entertainment value.
So, where is this all leading you may be wondering? Well. I think I had my most modern toilet encounter ever, while shopping in a new section of a shopping mall a few weeks ago. And honestly – I really wasn’t prepared for it. So I feel, as a community service I need to share ….
On entering the facility, I was super impressed with the cleanliness and the number of cubicles provided. Before entering a cubicle, I noticed that there didn’t seem to be any hand basins – just one, long, backward sloping slab of porcelain with spouts poking out every now and then. I should have realised then, I was going to have trouble! Rather, I thought to myself that I would deal with that on my exit and so entered my selected chamber! I checked for all the important necessities, toilet paper, a hook to hang my handbag, a seat and a flush button. All in order – good! I could proceed, which I did. That’s when things got freaky!
I hung up my handbag on the hook, sat down and almost immediately jumped up again. The toilet had flushed itself ….. before I had even started! I got such a fright, that if I had had my pants on, I may have peed them!! Turning to look suspiciously at the flush buttons, I noticed that it was a motion sensitive thing and as I had sat down, I obviously lent too far back and triggered it!
Note to self: Sit up straight on the loo!
I lowered myself cautiously back down and began again. After a few seconds, I heard a flap, flap, flapping noise coming from beside me. I turned to look – but nothing. Went back to my task at hand and there it was again ….. flap, flap, flap!! This time I had a really good look and noticed that I was in a cubicle that contained a deposal unit for pads and tampons and the like. On further investigation, I found that the lid was also motion sensitive but I was confused because I hadn’t waved my hand over it to set it off. A malfunction I thought. Anyway, I completed my task, but before I did …. flap, flap, flap again!!!
I looked across and all of a sudden, I realised what was happening – my fat butt was hanging over the edge of the toilet seat and into the motion sensitive zone and triggering the lid to flap open and closed!! My arse had out smarted modern toilet technology!! I started to giggle to myself and by the time I joined my friends on the outside – I knew exactly what to do to get water out of the slab/spout contraption ….. just wave something near it and voilá – water! I was a little disappointed it was so busy or I may have been tempted to wave my ass in front of the hand washing thingy, to see if it would trigger that too.
Public Service Announcement: Consider yourself warned – public toilets are still a place of terror and must be avoided at all costs!