By Jackie White
Nobody likes to use the public restroom. There are some things that go on in public restrooms that no one talks about. I am here to reveal the real truth of public restrooms right here, right now! This expose’ will uncover the craziness that we all experience in the restroom, no one talks about it.
What I am talking about is the ridiculous obstacle course of poorly automated fixtures that require you to perform magic tricks and do weird dances that ultimately make it feel like someone must be taping this for some sort of hidden camera prank show!
It all begins before you even sit down. Some bathrooms have these weird toilet seats that automatically slide a new piece of plastic on the seat before you sit down. Once that gets situated, you can then sit use the “hover over the toilet seat method”. Either way, you do your business. Sometimes, midstream, some toilets do not detect enough movement and it flushes while you are sitting there! If that happens, you either are scared to death and you fly off the toilet seat or just the opposite, you feel like you were almost sucked into the depths of hell by the massive extraction of the toilet!
If you don’t have the automatic sensing flusher from hell, you now must figure out were the flusher is. Sometimes, it’s obvious and in that case, you choose to either flush with your hand or with your foot. The cleanliness of the bathroom usually dictates that choice. I have found that sometimes toilets have the tiniest flusher button and it is hard to detect where it really is. As you are trying to figure that out, the toilet then flushes itself! That’s the worst because you are now facing the bowl! You wonder, did I get grossly splattered? Ugh, I can’t even think about it!
After you gain your composure, you get yourself together and exit the stall. That is when the real fun starts. You get to become psychic. You walk up to the sink and place your hand out to get the soap. That’s when you have to identify if this is a manual soap dispenser where you actually have to push down on the dispenser to get soap or do you wave you hand in front of it to get soap? Waving your hand usually means the soap missed your hand and is now on the counter, so you have to do it again. By the time you have enough “Tiny Bubbles” on your hand, you’ve wasted enough soap to wash the hands of 20 people and you look like an idiot because you have now messed up the counter!
After you get your soap, then you get into investigative mode again. If this soap dispenser if manual, then it would seem that the sink faucet is also manual. Nope, not always the case, Sherlock! Here is a good tip, if you do not see faucet handles, that would mean it’s automatic. I know, A-ha moment! Now, for the next obstacle, how does this sink “sense” your motion. I am forever waving my hands in front of the faucet to no avail. I can’t tell if it doesn’t work or “I’m doing it wrong”. The lady next to me is washing away and I look like I am performing some sort of Hawaiian hand dance in the sink. That is about the time I launch into my, “I can never do this” concession speech to the total stranger next to me. Sometimes people laugh with me, sometimes they look at me like I may have issues far beyond the ability to use the sink!
Now, here’s an especially tricky thing you can find in some bathroom sinks. The sinks do not have faucets, but no amount of waving at them will turn them on. That’s when you look to the floor to see if there is a pedal to push with your foot! I know, like, what the hell? Why complicate a sink with pedals? You press down on the pedal and there is no gentle mode with these sinks. The sinks opens up at full force and sprays out of 3 different spouts! You are now washing your hands and likely half your body in the Dancing Bathroom Firehose Fountains!
Ok, so if you have survived that far, it’s time to dry your hands. This should be simple, right Folks? Oh, no…First of all, let me say that I pray for paper towels in the bathroom, but you don’t always get them. I want paper towels because they serve multiple functions. A paper towel can dry your hands. Depending on how thin the towel is, you may need multiple to get your hands dry. The other, very important part of the paper towel is that you use it to open the bathroom door, so you don’t get somebody else’s dirty bathroom germs on you. You know those people, who are not washing their hands after using the bathroom? Yeah, I don’t want their germs on my hands. The bathrooms that are 5 star bathrooms to me are those with paper towels and a bathroom door that pushes out (I can use my shoulder to push the door and never have my hands on the door!) or at the very least has a trash can near the door, so I can dispose of my paper towel there.
Back to the hand drying. You know what I am going to say, some paper towel dispensers are manual and some require you to wave your hand and say abracadabra! The manual towel dispensers could have a handle, some have a lever that you need to push in about 15 times to get enough paper towel to dry your hands. The automatic paper towel dispensers again are detectable by a large sensor on the front of the machine. How well the sensor works is really up to your own magician hands.
Here’s the other fun thing about public restroom paper towel dispensers, if you are vertically challenged like me, some dispensers are hung way too high. That’s when you know it was some tall dude installing it, not thinking that some us will barely be able to reach the handle or sensor as it may be.
Just when you thought, my God, how long can this woman talk about bathrooms, I haven’t even addressed hand dryers. Yuck. I’ve heard them called Bacteria Bombs! They actually suck up the bathroom bacteria and then blow it back out on your hands! OMG! Of course, if you insist on using them, you will also note there are manual dryers where you push the big silver button with your once clean hands to dry them. See the other issue there? Touching that button! Now there are also the automatic ones that you don’t have to touch, but still are blowing bacteria and finally there are the ones you stick your hands into, jet hand dryers. Those are worse than regular dryers for blowing out germs and it sounds like a frickin’ jet is landing on your head when you use them.
If no paper towels are available, then I opt for the shake ‘em out method of drying my hands that usually ends with a quick wipe on my pants. It’s much better than using the hand dryers, but if you are all dressed up and out to dinner and you come out of the bathroom slinging your hands around and flicking your fingers, it’s not the elegant move.
Who knew that using the public bathroom could cause such issues? I am guessing most women know the struggle is real, but no one talks about the craziness. You are not going crazy even though you feel like you have just performed some ancient witch doctor spell and hand danced your way out of the bathroom!
So, there it is, the truth about public restrooms that has not been revealed until today! This public service message has been provided to let you know you are not alone when you are performing magic tricks on the sensors in the bathroom and you have wasted half the soap on the counter! You are not losing it, it’s just the way the public restrooms are. You are now informed to handle any public restroom craziness!
Erika Fehrenbach Prell is passionate about inspiring and educating, others on their path to complete wellness-mind,body, and soul. This desire led Erika to the helping profession of nursing, and she obtained her Master's Degree as a Nurse Practitioner in 2007. Erika specialized in cardiac surgery, largely influenced by her personal experience with heart disease. While she loved working with this population, her heart's desire has always been to impact lives on a larger scale and from a proactive, not reactive, place. The universe answered when her path crossed with Jackie and SoulShine was born. Erika finally feels she is walking in her purpose and is excited for this journey to unfold.