Maybe it’s not considered polite to discuss this, but if it changes just one visit to the washroom for the better, it’s worth the temporary deviation from writing about writing. Guys, you should read this too, even if you think it’s beneath your dignity…haven’t you ever wondered ‘why it takes you women so long in there?’ The answer is simple (and complicated.) It’s because women’s bathrooms weren’t designed for women.
First, most women in the modern world carry a purse. Yes, we generally include makeup, a wallet, ID, assorted pens and paper to write on…and if we’re moms, the purse often includes tissues, candies, wipes, assorted small toys, and the occasional treasure ‘Jr’ found and asked us to hold onto. (Little did we suspect the adoring tyke meant for the next ten to twenty years…) If we’re a technochick, the purse expands to become part office, with a PDA (personal digital assistant) or handheld PC, a cellphone, and two or more peripherals. As pet owners, some of us may enclose a treat or two for woman’s best friend. And yes, purses sometimes contain those ‘unmentionable’ items the younger woman’s body requires once a month.
The point is, there should always be some kind of a hook to hang the purse from inside the bathroom stall. Don’t expect us to put it on the icky floor (all floors are icky when it comes to putting your purse down) and expect us to be acrobats balancing the purse in one hand while taking care of business with the other. The problem increases when a woman is required to carry a laptop computer, a musical instrument, or a briefcase. These items tend to take up space, which brings us to another issue…
Why are bathroom stalls so small? Yes, we understand having one or two child sized stalls in popular child themed restaurants…we don’t understand neglecting the fact that children require adults to be with them (you know, those people who pay for the food and toys,) who may have to ‘go’ too, IE, having none of the stalls sized for an average adult. Ideally, all non-handicapped bathroom stalls should be at least twice the size they are now.
Next up is the sink. Taps are often set to either blast the water out with such force that it soaks the sink, the user, her clothes, and three people who weren’t even nearby. On the other end of the scale is that horrid spring arrangement that gives you enough water to get wet, but that’s it. I won’t eat in one local restaurant because their staff use that same washrooms and that’s inadequate for people who handle food. Some places have got it right; the water comes on when you move your hands towards the faucet, and shuts off when you take your hands away.
Some places have soap, some are continuously out of it. Pun intended. My preference would be fragrance free soap, since I have an odd sense of smell which translates most ‘frangrances’ into something absolutely horrid. (Can’t stand roses, nearly gag when the neighbors do their laundry. For me, strong florals are the worst–spices and common flavorings like vanilla the least offensive. There are people out there who can’t stand any chemical smells.) Soap is supposed to get you clean, not increase your personal odor.
On to the paper towel, or often the lack of it. Okay, so health experts recommend we use an air dryer to cut down on the use of paper and limit the possibility of transmission of diseases from wet toweling–but they also tell us bacteria can form inside the air dryers, which is then blasted onto our hands. In addition, you’re supposed to use paper towel to turn off the tap, so you don’t pick up the same germs you’ve just wash off.
Some places have paper towel dispensers with an electronic sensor. Many of them give you a third to half of what is needed to dry your hands. Obviously, people who design these things never actually dry their hands with toweling.
Then you pull or push open the bathroom door–the same door someone else may have touched without washing their own hands. My suggestion is make them all swinging doors that don’t require more than a gentle push. That way, you wouldn’t have to even touch them, you could just nudge them with your purse, or your laptop, or your saxophone case, etc. Or, get one of the kids to open them, just don’t hold their hand afterward.
Aside from all that, there’s one more reason women may take longer in the washroom. It’s not a board room, or a golf course, or a hockey game, but we’re networking. Put two women who are total strangers in a bathroom, and they just might come out the best of friends. Or the worst of enemies, but we need to find out. It takes a few minutes, okay?
Thanks for reading, and thanks for waiting for this. 🙂
Phyllis K Twombly