Perhaps the worst moments of the week is when you have the desperate realization that you absolutely, without question, MUST use the public restroom, and upon entering, discover that the previous occupants misused the facilities in such a gruesome manner that you will be risking not only your physical health, but your mental sanity to use them. Perhaps you even find the facilities in a usable condition, but the actions of the other occupants leave you in such an uncomfortable state that the prospect of using one of these facilities again in the future fills you with an inexplicable horror. Unfortunately, there are some people in modern society that abuse the government or institutionally provided public areas in such a manner that responsible citizens cannot enjoy them in the way they were meant to be enjoyed.
I vividly recall the day when the mistreatment of public restrooms became a personal matter. I was a member of my high school cross-country team. It was a cool October afternoon, perfect conditions for our race. However, as I prepared for my race, I recognized that it would be necessary to make a trip to the public facilities. By the time I was able to locate such facilities inside of a nearby middle school, my need had grown to desperation, fueled by the short time I had left to prepare for my race. But it was my misfortune that this only available facility had been victim of the thoughtless depravities of delinquents. Stall number one had been misused in the past, resulting in an “Out of Order” sign banning potential beneficiaries from the premises. Stall number two had been the apparently recent victim of the current rage, “The Poop Nuke”, which was sweeping public restrooms in my hometown. Allowing that exact details might be somewhat graphic, let it suffice to say that it was beyond a useful condition. The third and final stall appeared at first glance to be at least somewhat sanitary, and thus was my only choice. However, I was horrified to discover that the vandals had out thought me. Some delightful child had, in a deliberate fashion, ripped the toilet paper in half, and proceeded to unroll one half out onto the floor, leaving a half inch strip in the dispenser for the unwary victim. The thoughtlessness of the few can be a source of misery and despair in the lives of unfortunate, innocent citizens!
As a custodian, I can say that the restrooms are among the most dreaded cleaning assignments because of the intensive amount of work required to make them sanitary and usable for the public. Obviously, the restroom will become soiled through usage. The issue is when those who enter intentionally pollute the facilities; leaving toilet paper or paper towels on the floor, plugging the toilets, not flushing after use, draining the soap from the dispenser onto the counters and sinks, or even deliberate placement of human excrements outside of the intended reciprocals. If each person who entered the restroom had the mindset that it is indeed a privilege to have public facilities available, and treated it as such, a privilege, the amount of work could be greatly reduced for the custodians, and the privilege of usage could be enjoyed by the next person in need.
|The Far Side-Gary Larson|
Aside from the way we treat the facilities, there are certain behaviors that should never be exhibited inside the public restrooms. These are public facilities providing basic services to the necessitating citizen, not your private bathroom. They are not the place to practice your psychology assignment of “breaking the social norms”. The bathroom is not a place to talk on the phone. Anything you have to say can, and must wait until after. It is also not a hygienic place to practice personal hygiene. Please wait till arriving at home to wash your hair. If a stall is occupied, do not, unless you have absolutely no other choice, enter into a stall immediately adjacent. Give others some personal space to do their business. When you leave, do everyone a favor and wash your hands. And please. Look to make sure there is sufficient paper in the dispenser for your business. You don’t want to be placed at either end of the incredibly awkward situation of asking or being asked for toilet paper through the wall of the stall. Simply unacceptable!
There needs to be a reform in the public attitude towards their privilege of public restroom usage. No one likes to find the restroom in a state of disarray when they enter. We must raise awareness that usage of such facilities really is a privilege. As BYU students, we must set the example. Throw out your trash. Please, flush the toilet. Not only is it nasty to find someone else’s mess, the smell that permeates the facility is nauseating. But above all, do not, DO NOT, intentionally damage or deface anything in the restroom! Leave the bathroom a better place than you found it. Leave it the way you would like to find it. Many people carry the misconceived notion that the men are worse offenders in mistreatment of the restrooms. However, while off campus men’s restrooms may generally be worse than the women’s in terms of cleanliness, in the on campus setting, women’s restrooms are as equally mistreated as the men’s. Refrain from acting in such a way in the bathroom that will make the next person to enter feel awkward, as though they were intruding into your personal world. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we could all feel comfortable using the public restroom when in need instead of waiting until absolute necessity drove us there? The restrooms were provided for our convenience, and if we treat them with respect they might actually do just that! And not only would you be a happier citizen, but the custodian and other users will greatly appreciate your efforts.