Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Little Girl's Room

It's that time of year when we all find ourselves out and about more.  Out in the bustle.  Traveling around in the frantic pace of the holidays.  Shopping for long periods.  Eating out more frequently.  Attending parties.  We're in shopping malls, hotels, stores, churches, banquet halls, restaurants.  Always on the go and away from home a little more than usual. 

Today, I would like to discuss a sobering topic which all of this "going and doing" brings to the forefront of every woman's mind during this time of year......

The public restroom.

Here, at Motherhood and Muffin Tops, we like to cover a wide and varied scope of contemporary, relevant....pressing topics and, in keeping with that effort, we cannot overlook the challenges we, women, encounter in the public restroom.  Day after day....after day.  I feel that, if we talk about such issues and bring them out of the shadows, then we will all feel better for doing so. 

1) Perhaps the most distressing obstacle that women have to navigate through in a public restroom these days is the automatic flush.  As the daughter of a germ conscious mother, I was always taught that you never.......ever, ever, ever, ever..... make contact with a public restroom toilet seat.  Doing so will ensure immediate contraction of incurable and fatal diseases.  I was never told what the diseases were.......just that they were diseases and you didn't want them.  You might as well go play in the red hazard bags in the dumpster behind the pathology lab as to sit bare legged on a public toilet seat.  True or not, I have bought into this way of thinking and as the Good Book says......even in my older age, I have not departed from it.  For this reason, I only utilize public restrooms when it is completely unavoidable.    

Since the functioning of the automatic flush relies heavily on contact for its timing accuracy, distressing issues can arise for those of us who were taught that sitting on a public toilet seat is not in accordance with the little known 11th commandment.  When one doesn't actually sit, it confuses the sensor.  It cannot process that concept......and so it does one of two things: 

   A)  It just starts flushing and flushing and flushing before you're done, spewing water everywhere and scaring you half out of your mind.  If it flushes prematurely, you can just forget's not going to flush again when you really are finished.  Automatic toilets take 15 minute mandatory OSHA breaks after each flush.  (And you do know that anything that accidentally falls into one of those industrial toilets during mid-flush....well, it will be in the Atlantic Ocean within 3 minutes.  They're just that formidable.)  


   B) It will refuse to flush at all and there you will stand.  What is one to do?  I always wave my foot in front of the sensor a couple of times.  If that doesn't work, I tap the toilet seat with my shoe to play along with its little game and try to simulate seat contact.  I know if anyone is looking under the door to check for occupancy, they must wonder what I'm doing in there on one foot, but that is not for me to worry about.  If all of those methods fail, the last resort is to find that tiny, bacteria coated, black button that is on some toilets that will cause it to flush.....if you can locate it.  Oh, how I miss those big, silver levers that I could just stomp down with my foot as I exited the stall.   Flushing on is a thing of the past.  A thing of beauty.   

2) I would be remiss not to mention the problems that arise when businesses do not install purse hooks on the back of their stall doors.  You've all been there.  There you are with your heavy purse, a couple of shopping bags from American Eagle, a hanging bag from Dillard's........oh, and your free panties in the pink striped bag and a white Styrofoam box containing the remnants of your lunch fajitas.....all while using your head to hold the door know, the one that has a big hole where the lock should be.  In this position, someone opening the unlockable door on your head can seriously throw off this delicate balancing act, resulting in undesirable and unsanitary consequences.

I'd challenge any man anywhere to keep a 10 lb purse on his shoulder and hold 4 bags and a half order of chicken fajitas from a squatting position....all while maintaining accuracy in shooting a target that's behind him.  Doing this effectively takes great skill that, too often, is not given proper recognition considering its high level of difficulty.  Leaning forward at the waist with bent knees can also cause dizziness and feelings of faintness as blood flow has a difficult time getting to where it needs to go in order to maintain consciousness.  This is why head rushes are common in women who are exiting the restroom and should not be cause for alarm. 

The last time I had to perform this "contortionistic" act, I thought about how a room full of men in some budget meeting at headquarters somewhere probably decided that eliminating the installation of purse hooks in the ladies' restrooms would be one way they could cut costs.  Oh, if they could only go in there with us and see how their decisions affect everyday people.  It would be crowded.....and a little embarrassing, but, oh, so enlightening for them.   

3) In today's skeleton crew economy, too often, we, women, find ourselves in the confines of the 3x4 toilet stall, standing on our head with blood pooling in our legs, only to discover that there is no toilet paper.  Why, just the other night, I had to pass some tissue under the partition to a poor lady stranded on the Cracker Barrel porcelain throne.  I could hear the desperation in her voice as it quivered.....pleading for anything I was willing to share with her under the metal wall that separated us.....the haves and the have nots.

In the worst of situations, you can even find yourself pulling at the little, tiny strands of paper left clinging to the cardboard tube at the end of a roll or frantically digging in your purse for a Wal-Mart receipt or anything made of paper or any other absorbent material.  As you're burrowing around in your purse, the automatic flusher feels that you've had more than ample time to complete any of the bodily functions and it goes to flushing.  Your time is up. 

Dang it.

It always helps to know that you're not alone in your struggles.  The next time you find yourself in a public restroom predicament, know that these trials are not unique to you.  There are women around the world who are also using the crowns of their heads to keep the door from swinging open while having the backs of their legs soaked with the sea spray of the premature automatic toilet. 

Let's stand together and support one another. 

We are not alone.

I hope Monday finds you in well equipped restrooms stocked with an embarrassment of toilet tissue riches.





  1. My greatest achievement as the mother of a Parks and Rec baseball player was to get purse hooks installed in the bathrooms of our new park restrooms. While there was a lot of good planning for the restroom area, including a family restroom, they made a lot of moms happy when they installed purse hooks.

    Next would be a valet to hold the sno cone you just stood in line for 20 minutes to buy, only to have your kid need to go potty the minute you got the treat.

    1. Hahahahaha......Oh, can definitely look back on your life and say that you have, indeed, made a difference!! Thank you for your work toward providing hooks for women everywhere! I am surprised a monument hasn't been erected in your honor there in the park. And love the snow cone valet. You are precious!!!! :)

  2. I always mentally curse the designers that don't install hooks in every stall and think warm thoughts about those that thought to install a couple of them. Those are my favorite! Something else that causes negative thoughts in public restrooms are places that don't have paper towels. I don't always want to use a hand dryer and sometimes I have a need for an actual paper towel! :)

    1. Amen, Marie!! I despise the hand dryer! And nothing is worse than an empty paper towel dispenser in the restroom! It comes down to wiping on the pants or drip dry. No one should have to make such choices. :)

  3. I hope you know that I'm laughing with you, not at you!

    The hooks for purses have been removed in many places because those lovely thieves would lurk in the ladies room and swipe the purses while the lady is doing her business.

    And, for the record, I have always thought it was silly not to sit down on the toilet. I promise not to lick my butt before I have washed it completely. And it has yet to develop even the slightest wasting disease.

    1. Hahaha......well, I'm glad you've avoided those deadly, infectious diseases, Funky Kim! And whatever the reason for the absence of purse hooks in some restrooms, I don't like it!!! I prefer to use the restrooms of those businesses who didn't get that memo. :)

    2. And I would take a hook on the side or the back of the stall if that is deemed safer.....I just want a hook somewhere!

  4. I thought that was the reason why they stop putting the hooks for the purses & etc. Thieves, but still. Also I heard that you shouldn't put your purse on the counter too. " Can you spare a square?" Ugh! But! When you gotta go, ya gotta go! I'm not a young camel anymore. Good post Joni, Kathleen in Az

    1. either, Kathleen! Well....whatever their reasoning, I prefer to use the restrooms of those businesses who didn't get the memo about the hook/thievery link :)

  5. The other thing that really 'gets me' about public bathrooms is the fact that the stalls are so shallow that I have to either stand on top of or behind the seat to get the door shut. Has anyone ever heard of opening the door out so I don't have to get my jeans dirty with who-knows-what when I'm shimmying up to the potty to get in and out of the stupid stall.

    Also, my husband calls it 'hovering' because I don't sit. Hovering girls unite! : )