On bad public bathrooms

My brother decided to start an enlightening discussion on his blog recently about memorable places to, uhm, do your business. You can read all about that here if you want. As you will see in the comments, it got me thinking not about what goes on so much in the bathrooms but about the bathrooms themselves.

It’s no secret to those that know me that I am not a fan of public bathrooms. I’m not exactly phobic, but I will go out of my way not to use them if possible. And everything is relative – after I spend two days in the wilderness camping, the Waffle House bathroom feels luxurious. After walking around NYC for a week, pretty much any bathroom is ok. The Charlotte Observer once did a piece on the best public bathrooms in Charlotte, which I read with great interest. What about the opposite, though?

I left two comments on Kevin’s blog regarding some memorable bathroom experiences, and memorable not in a good way. I said as follows:

– In Rome I had a few scary memorable bathroom experiences. One was at a park in which there were no lights or windows in the entire concrete bathroom. Pitch black. I ended up leaving the door to the outside open, and leaving my stall door open with my hand on the door handle in case someone came in/walked by. …  I was more scared of what I couldn’t see …

– Also in Rome there was the (nice) restaurant in which I sought out the bathroom and realized it was one bathroom, 2 stalls – one for men and one for women. I quickly did my thing, not being comfortable with an idea of a man in the stall next to me, but I wasn’t fast enough: A man came in before I could finish and let’s just say he wasn’t too concerned about offending the lady in the stall next to him …

– I just thought of a time last summer in New York City. Bar was underground and full of extremely hot men, none of which were interested in me or my friend Susan, but all of whom were eying each other … we went to the bathroom, which was unisex and lit by a blacklight. And all over the toilet was something red. Resembled paint. Didn’t bother to find out – got the hell outta the bathroom and outta the bar. To this day that image haunts me. *shudders*

I will add to that some other bad bathrooms I’ve encountered:

– Portapotties/outhouses. Ok, of course these are always bad. But the first time I ever used one, I had no idea what I was in for. I was a kid away at summer camp, and woke up in the middle of the night having to pee. We were at pioneer heritage camp, meaning we slept in covered wagons. The closest bathroom was an outhouse. We took our lanterns and walked there – and there were far too many shadows on the wall to know what was in that bathroom with me – I’m sure the huge spiders that frequented our wagon were not vacant from there. After that experience I walked up to the arts and crafts building every time.

– Portapotties take 2. Carolina Cup, 1998. We were on college row and everyone was drunk. And drunk people using a portapotty … not good. The floor was soaking wet and I actually slipped. Thank heavens I did not fall. But slipping was scary enough to make me say I never ever ever want to go inside one again. In fact, my biggest fear about running a marathon is that, specifically.

– 8es bar, Athens, Ga. The worst bar bathroom I’ve seen in a long time. I’m not so good at the squatting thing – I have strong legs, but I never trust them when hovering over a toilet – and this toilet was so absolutely disgusting that if my legs had failed me, my friends would have had to rush me to the ER to get rid of whatever vile germs I would have surely picked up. Susan, being the good friend she is, told me to squat and she would hold my arms to keep me from “falling in.” I’m sure we were quite a pair in the bathroom stall that night, but she saved me from imminent illness.

– The Grill, a 24-hour diner, also in Athens, Ga. Girl in bathroom comes out and warns me to watch my step. I walk in and I’m doing my thing when I look down and … let’s just say I’m glad I was wearing boots. I told Chris to make certain I took them off before I walked inside his apartment. You do not want my shoes on your carpet, I warned him.

– Gas station bathroom, on the road to who-knows-where. It’s one of those outside-entrances ones. The bathroom light doesn’t work. I am terrified of what I’m not seeing. I crack the outside door so the sunlight will keep it from being pitch black, and I make Jeff stand guard to make sure no one comes in. “Hurry” he says, knowing what a pervert he looks like lurking outside the open door of the women’s restroom.

I’m sure there are others but those are the few that stand out … Now I ask you: What are some *bad* bathrooms you’ve encountered, and what made them so?