Potty Parity: Let's Design the Dream Public Restroom

BlogHer Original Post

The government feels your pain about pubic restrooms in federal buildings. Earlier this morning, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a legislative hearing about (brace yourselves) H.R. 4869, the “Restroom Gender Parity in Federal Buildings Act,” also known as the “Potty Parity Act.” Apparently there is an imbalance in women's restrooms as compared to men's restrooms in federal buildings.

There is a serious side to this. Beyond obtaining a matching number of stalls, there are health issues. When we wait in restroom lines, in addition to abdominal pain, we have a greater risk of cystitis and other urinary tract infections. Thank you, U.S. government, for fretting about my potential cystitis. Seriously. But could we also get a better economy while we are at it? Or end the war? Or get better (shudder) health care?

But what the heck, let's go at the restroom issue. Have at it with me, sisters!

I don't spend tons of time in federal buildings. But I'd love to square off with a few senators about how all public restrooms should be designed. If you are anything like me, you could also testify at that meeting about scores of restroom enhancements that could be put on your dream list. Let's not stop with "Potty Parity" in numbers -- let's get the restrooms we want and deserve! Dream big!

Here is my wish list for a Dream Public Restroom -- what is on yours?

1. Some clear way to tell that someone is in a stall without having to yank at the stall door. Airplanes and busses manage to do it with a simple "occupied" bar that slides over when the door is closed from inside. This would save that embarrassing moment when the little slidey thingy isn't all the way pulled over, and you open the steel door to see some dear old lady wiping her behind. Not a good thing for either of you to go through.

2. A flusher that flushes without creating an upspray. This way if you wish to camouflage any potential sounds that might emit from your rest-taking body that you do not wish to share with strangers (I'm just sayin'), then you could flush the potty as a noise-screen and not have a drenched bottom.

3. They do it in many places in Europe -- doors that reach to the floor. This way, little curious Johnny, age three, won't be peering under the neighboring wall at you to say hello and ask what you are doing while his mother wrestles with five-year-old Susie to get her on the toilet.

4. On top of the toilet paper holder -- a shelf for my purse. I want to be able to reach it. I don't want to put it on the I-90 rest stop floor on Memorial Day weekend. I barely want my shod feet on that floor.

5. While we are on the subject of those nasty floors, how about some kind of spritzy rolling squeegie for me to clean the bottoms of my Crocs. Just prop up the Croc and the rolling thing cleans the bottom so I won't be tracking the memory of someone else's last minute restroom excursion back into my car.

6. Music. Is it too much to ask that some kind of music be available? I don't want to hear the person next door regret eating beans for dinner. Nor do I need to listen to Mommy teaching Joey to "Aim, darn it, AIM!" Perhaps Handel's Water Music?


7. A toilet sanitizer. Imagine a circle-shaped toilet seat that, when you stand up, rotates around and is sanitized as it rotates through the back of the toilet -- presenting a spanking clean (no pun intended), germ-free unit and making it unnecessary to swaddle the seat in toilet paper. Gone would be the days of trying to straddle or squat above the seat. (I have a friend who actually squats up on the seat with her feet on the seat. I cannot imagine it, nor do I wish to.) Adios to flimsy toilet seat covers that slip off because they are made of one part paper and ten parts air.

8. A place to safely change a baby. Required. No exceptions. And while we're at it, a dispenser for me to buy diapers, baby powder, ointment, handi-wipes. And it would be extra nice if the table said, "What a good Mommy you are!" when I took the baby off it. Trust me. If you've ever changed a diarrhetic baby on the road in a public restroom, a little encouragement goes a long way.

9. Some sort of auto-spritzing deodorizer in a light but sturdy floral scent, please. It should spray the cubicle, not the occupant.

10. Some decor other than "early industrial" would be pleasant. Do ALL the doors have to be silver? Do all the toilets and sinks have to be white? Is gray a required color?

11. A hefty fine for the management people in charge of those public restrooms that let their spaces get all stanky, sticky and nasty. They have to get on their hands and knees and clean them daily for a week with a toothbrush.

That is my list for my Dream Public Restroom. What is on yours? Do any of my items appeal to you, too? What is the most annoying thing about public restrooms to you? This is your chance to vent. Have at it! Tell us -- what is required in Your Dream Public Restroom?

Contributing Editor, Mata H also blogs at Time's Fool

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