I know what you’re thinking after reading that title. The sentence shouldn’t say, "problem", it should say "problems" because there are clearly many things wrong with public restrooms. At least that’s what you’re thinking if you’re a woman. If you’re a man, it may have never occurred to you that there are any issues at all—and that is the root of the problems with public restrooms. I'm not talking about dirt, empty toilet paper roll dispensers, and such. I'm talking about the fact that men clearly designed these places. And anyone who thinks urinals are an acceptable way to relieve oneself is not going to design a bathroom that women want to use.
Between a wedding and a family reunion, I’ve been traveling around a lot in the last two weeks, so this is an open letter of protest to whoever is building women’s restrooms.
1. Restrooms are not a place where men and women are equal. Due to that gift of nature that makes women want to rip off your head once a month, women need to use the restrooms more frequently than men. Build bigger bathrooms for women. Because having to wait in long lines makes us want to rip your head off even more.
2. Hand sensors at the sink are more trouble than they're worth. In theory sensors are a good idea. They would be a great idea if every restroom had them, but since some don’t, I find myself automatically holding my hands out underneath the faucet and waiting there like some desert traveler begging for water. And then I feel foolish when the person next to me walks up and flips the faucet handle on. A public restroom is not the place where I want to explain to strangers that I'm neither crazy nor incompetent when it comes to plumbing--I've just been conditioned, like one of Pavlov's famous pets, to stand there with my hands outstretched waiting for something to happen.
Also the faucet sensor is an especially annoying feature if you happen to knock your camera into the sink with your purse while you are wrestling paper towels out of a recalcitrant paper towel dispenser. This is not a time when you want the faucet to automatically turn on.
3. Automatic flush sensors at the toilet. This is a feature that men probably think women like. This is because men have never used these sorts of toilets in conjunction with the tissue paper toilet seat covers. Men, let me clue you into what happens when you use the two things together.
Step one: pull out the tissue paper cover from the wall receptacle.
Step two: tear out the middle so it will fit on the toilet.
Step three: carefully place the now ready tissue paper over the toilet seat to protect yourself from germs, grime, and the invisible toilet monsters that lurk in public restrooms.
Step four: start to do the necessary undressing.
Step five: watch as the toilet sensor decides the tissue paper constitutes something that needs to be flushed and whisks it and the water down the bowl.
Step six: repeat
4. Hand sensors on the paper towel dispenser. Are you noticing a theme? You should. I frequently look like I'm practicing a jazz hands routine while I wave pointlessly at the paper towel dispenser. Either I am actually a vampire and have no body heat, or those sensors are temperamental things that hang onto their hoard of paper towels with Scrooge-like diligence.
Well, I'm back home now. Back to work and deadlines and my real life, but thankfully also back to my non-sensored bathroom.