julie: on bathrooms

When I sent the word, “bathrooms” as the next topic, Ginny replied, “ugh.”  Maybe what they say about Jews and bathrooms is true, maybe it’s just me,  but “ugh” about bathrooms?  Okay, yes, there are some that are not so pleasant.  The ones in shelters at beaches, not a big fan,  but it’s the condition of the bathroom, not the bathroom itself  that inspires the “ugh.”

I am just going to admit this right now:  I have a list of good public bathrooms all over this city stored in my brain which  I have been working on for most of my life.  I have to say that one of the saddest things about the loss of Marshall Field’s was the end of  the best centrally located extraordinary public washrooms.

Here’s another thing I am happy to admit:  I have read entire books in the bathroom.  I used to read really fast, so I would start while in the toilet area, move over to the bathtub, then get out and  sit wrapped in a towel on the edge of the tub and finish.  For longer ones, I would just leave them in there; I always had something I was reading in the bathroom.

Bathrooms are a certain kind of quiet and calm.  They are the sound of water running.


Washrooms were one of the most annoying parts of my job.  When you first start working in a restaurant, you are told to wash your hands before returning to work.  Seems like something you would just tell people to check off the list, right?  The reality is that there are a whole bunch of people walking around having not washed their hands after using a bathroom.  Over the years I got more than one complaint from a customer who was in the washroom with an employee who didn’t wash their hands before leaving the washroom.  Really, people tell you these things, they stop you on the floor or ask someone to get you, or if they are in a hurry, they call you later.  But I want to add that I have seen countless, and I mean countless, customers not wash their hands.

Of course, and this is not to justify or excuse anything, just an observation, but the person calling to tell me about the non-washing of the hands might also be the one who kept pulling paper towels until half of them fell out and then left them on the floor next to the trash can or used half a roll of toilet paper and stopped up the toilet and, I know, surprisingly,  is not in a big hurry to tell me about that.  For a while I really didn’t want to wok anywhere that didn’t have employee bathrooms, it is just so much easier.  And no, not because I didn’t have to consider who was and wasn’t washing their hands, it’s just that the whole thing of keeping the bathrooms clean is such a major part of the day and night and separate bathrooms makes that much easier to manage.   Like I always had servers who thought it was not their job to pick up anything in the bathroom.  This just bugged the shit out of me because, uh, the cleanliness of the bathroom has a direct effect on the number of customers which has a direct effect on how much money you make, right, so really, pick up the damn toilet paper that someone got stuck on their shoe and knocked off and left on the floor.  Or, and this just really killed me, if you use up all the toilet paper, go get another roll.  But they wouldn’t.   And sometimes I got the feeling that some of my employees were leaving certain messes just as often as mu customers.  And then the people whose job description clearly stated “clean bathrooms,” or “hourly bathroom checks,” would complain about cleaning up after other employees.  So separate worked nicely for many reasons.

Bathrooms can be beautiful.  Tile is so pretty and shines so nicely and never looks dirty, well, the grout can get yucky, but that’s still not as bad as dirty walls that you can’t really get clean.  I remember the tile from a whole bunch of bathrooms I have stopped in in bus and train stations over many trips.   The decor of bathrooms tells all kinds of things; approximately when it was built, if it has been remodeled, that kind of thing.  You can sometimes tell if a building is going to be worked on or a business is going to fold by the condition of the bathroom.  An old boss told me, “bathrooms don’t lie for anyone.”   It’s interesting.

I was taking pictures of my bathroom to post here, and I realized that I don’t have much designed “for the bathroom,” except towels and toilet paper, that stuff.  Otherwise I have things that could be anywhere.  I don’t know, I guess I really like the bathroom.


Oh, well, I can’t figure out how to put pictures in a post, so maybe when I do I will pick a topic close enough to “bathrooms” that I can use them.  Or maybe I will just stick them in whatever the topic is when I figure it out because why not.

2 thoughts on “julie: on bathrooms

  1. They say something about Jews and bathrooms?

    I do appreciate the tile and the shiny and the whatnot of a good public restroom but that is the exception more than the rule in my experience. Usually you can make me happy with decent toilet paper and towels, not hand dryers. I was going to write about some of the nicer bathrooms I’ve been in, but it turns out I have a … I first thought of the word “shitty” then no I can’t use that, then “crappy” well that’s not much better, then “piss poor” and now I’m giving up … I have a bad memory for where those bathrooms were.

    • Oh yeah, I will have to find some humor and send it to you…

      I really hate many public facilities, no doubt. But I had to stay away from some of that because even if you don’t actually say the graphic details, who really wants to conjure up the “3 AM bar bathroom.” Let them be nasty right where they are.

      It’s funny. I think of not public bathrooms first. I don’t know. I really kind of think of them as rooms with an extra purpose…who knows.

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