I’ve wondered why they are called restrooms when they don’t seem to have anything to do with resting. Who really wants to rest in public anyway? This place, more than others and especially while traveling, offers challenges for those with accessibility needs. Visits to them are usually a new experience and could be viewed as an adventure with each opportunity provided. They can be viewed as intriguing explorations of new territory that involve both good and bad experiences.
Thinking about using public bathrooms as exploring adventures causes me to consider bathroom layouts/landscapes that confuse me. For example, I realize it’s a design issue, but there is no other sensible reasoning for the handicapped stall almost always being the furthest away from the entrance, which means those who have trouble moving must move the farthest.
This handicapped stall allows no room for a wheelchair or scooter, not even space to turn a walker.
Baby changing stations being located in handicapped stalls perplexes me. Again, I know its a design and space issue that leads to this, but I’m not interested in competing. Being in a new environment with different angles and bar positions requires time and thought. There can be great pressure when a disabled person is taking care of business and hears a mom hush a baby. It also leads to an awkward encounter when exiting the stall and coming face-to-face with an anxious mother.
I suppose automatic flush toilets make life easier for most people, but they are not a convenience for someone who can barely stand and requires a number of attempts before being successful. Repetitive flushing is frustrating for me and likely confusing for others who are nearby or in line waiting.
Then there are restrooms with no reachable soap and/or towel dispensers for the seated. Thank goodness for antibacterial gel. Many bathrooms have doors that are too heavy to open, but there are often people who don’t mind lending a hand.
I have discovered the hard way that hotel accessible bathrooms require a tutorial in industry language. No assumptions can be made when reserving a “handicapped” room. Customers must ask specifically for a roll-in shower if needed. Carefully designed layouts and grab bar placements are priceless for those that need them. It’s okay to take some of the adventure out of traveling when its traded for comfort.
There’s a flip side to bathroom frustrations. After I wrote “Dream Bathroom” with pictures of a handicapped stall’s very long toilet paper holder, I saw this similar but more industrial looking toilet paper holder with two levels which accommodates twice the amount of rolls in the same horizontal space. I was impressed.
This proves there is more than one way to use a great idea. Variety is good. It’s always comforting to see an generous supply of bathroom gold.
In addition to some amazing toilet paper holders, there are plenty of other positive things to notice. Some bathrooms are beautifully decorated with eye-pleasing colors and modern conveniences like this one (interestingly, the same one with an insufficient handicapped stall).
During our time with the military, some ladies’ rooms in nice clubs had plush lounge areas with comfortable furniture where ladies could primp and visit before returning to events. It was a pleasure to visit them. There’s a feeling of relief when finding a public restroom with just the right number and positioning of grab bars. A well designed bathroom can be a thing of beauty. I do appreciate automatic faucets and sensor activated towel dispensers.
Some places are worth returning to. Certain chain restaurants can be counted on to provide handicapped friendly experiences. Among them are McDonalds and Culvers. While other chains can vary in usability of bathroom facilities, those two gain our business repeatedly because we are assured their facilities will consistently be workable for me. Newer highway rest areas and churches, even some newer grocery and department stores offer family bathrooms where combined genders can enter together and family members can assist those who need help. Finding those available is like winning the lottery in the travel game. They can even be located by searching on a smartphone.
Bathrooms are more like adventures than restful for people like me. We never know what we’ll find – it’s a crap shoot. With all of their positive and negative features, bathrooms are required places to visit. Providing a convenient place to exercise necessary functions is a smart marketing tool for stores, eating establishments and hotels. Furnishing customers with a comfortable experience causes them to be eager to return.
Whether travelling in town, down the highway or across the nation, a good bathroom experience can make or break a long or short trip. I wish you pleasant adventures wherever you go.