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Tips for Surviving the Public Restroom

Updated on January 31, 2014

Face It, Public Bathrooms are Disgusting

My wife often kids me about needing to be within 100 feet of a restroom at all times because I tend to freely use them, public or not. I must admit that I often do rate the quality of a restaurant or other establishment based on the quality and cleanliness of their bathroom facilities. I could have been served the most outstanding 4 course meal at a restaurant held in high regard but if the restroom looked like a tornado hit the water treatment plant it may as well have been McDonald’s. I am finicky to say the least in where I choose to rest my bum however, sometimes there is no choice but to use a “facility” that looks and smells like two sumo wrestlers battled it out on a pile of re-fried beans with a sprinkle or two of used kitty litter.

So how does one survive a situation such as this? It isn’t easy but by following the following scenario and general rules of thumb, you can leave the public restroom knowing you at least won’t die as a result of the bacterial and viral exposure you put yourself through.

Example 1) The Interstate 684 southbound rest stop near Brewster, New York

If you are a frequent traveler between New England and the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, you are likely pretty familiar with this little slice of heaven. Unfortunately for those of us who travel through the connection from I-84 in CT to I-284 in NJ know it is possibly the last chance for a decent amount of time to relieve oneself without having to get off the interstate in New Jersey and be forced to drive at least 5 miles to the nearest gas station restroom (see example 2). Upon finding a parking space at the rest area just passed the iron char-coal grills and bubble gum riddled picnic tables you can make your way past the “temporary” Job Johnnies and rest stop janitor dawning his orange haz-mat suit taking a well deserved cigarette break and make your way through the permanently opened men’s room door. Immediately you know where you are based the odor wafting up from the exhaust fans airflow. Next, you notice the dampness of the floor and wonder if the janitor actually used water from the clogged toilette bowl to mop the floor. Ahh…Thank goodness the architects of this masterpiece put a 1 foot wide divider between the urinals. Now the weirdo next to me has to at least get on his tippy toes to get a glimpse of, well, you know where I am going with this… Needless to say, you will finish your business and decide there is nothing near or on the sink that is cleaner than your own body and run quickly out of the 6th level of hell to resume your journey. Be careful not the slip; remember the floor is damp.


Example 2) The auto repair gas station outdoor entry “rest”room

OK, so you decided you thought you could make it to the next rest area but man you were wrong…Your wife or significant other is getting annoyed at your seated “pee dance” that you try to pass off as grooving to the tune on your radio and demands you get off at the next exit to relieve yourself. You are now faced with the infamous outdoor entry gas station restroom. Yes the one with the tiny, oily key attached via rubber band to a larger hey chain of shame that resembles the paddles fraternities use to torture new members in college. Upon finding that the key doesn't work and surprised someone already was occupying the unisex fountain of youth you have to wait outside the door for the bubbling noises and groans of pain to stop before the room becomes available…You enter…again the floor is wet, this time filled with sand, gravel and salt residue from last winter. You are uncertain of what is growing on the wall next to the toilet nor whether the condom on the floor is used or not. Again, the smell of urine is ever present and you decide you would rather pee your pants than take another step. Good choice!


Example 3) Job Johnny, enough said

Now, you are really desperate and decide to find something at least semi-indoors before finding a bush in the semi-residential area you are now desperately crisscrossing trying to find another option….you come across your dream come true, a Job Johnny at a construction site…Will it be unlocked? Undoubtedly yes! As you look back and forth to see if anyone notices you randomly using the port-o-pot you creep in and begin to assess your options…Do I go directly into toilet and watch the last few weeks of bounty floating in the blue much or use the very strategically placed plastic urinal? Since you waited too long you have to go number 1 and number 2. Make sure to triple apply the toilette paper to the seat before you sit down and enjoy the chemical fragrance that so helpfully hid the urine aroma that surely intoxicates your senses.

Tips on Surviving Disgusting Restrooms

Plan your attack

a. Upon entering, locate and categorize the paper towel dispenser.

b. Do your business and try not to touch and surface areas unless necessary

c. Crank out the paper towels you will need before washing your hands.

d. Wash your hands then use paper towels to turn off the sink and dispense more paper towels to dry your hands with

e. Use paper towels you dried your hands with to open the door to exit

Have Purell on hand at all times. Whether you decided to wash your hands in the restroom or not, you will fell a little better having sanitized your hands.

If you are able, never sit down on the toilet to avoid touching the disgusting surface and distance yourself from potential “splashback” of the toilet water. If this happens you will never feel clean again…

Good luck!


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    • Peter Leeper profile image

      Peter Leeper 5 years ago from Londonderry, New Hampshire

      Thanks Seeker! At least we can find the comedy in even the most disgusting situations... At least some of the dirtier bathrooms also have the best grafitti on the wall as well...Nothing like a bathroom scribed word war about whos "art" is best!

      Thanks again!

    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      LOL!!! What a fabulous hub! I'm in the UK but we have identicle problems trying to find a clean loo! I don't go to a public toilet unless I absolutely have to. I also agree about eating out. It could be the best restaurant in the area but if their toilets stink? Well, you have to think maybe they treat the food with the same contempt?

      I don't mean to be rude, just factual. But I've often been tempted to stay outside and go behind a tree to pee, rather than risk a public toilet! Outside is much cleaner than some places I've been to and smell a lot nicer as well - but alas trees don't grow paper towels or have hand soap!

      I really loved this article! Voted up awesome!

    • Peter Leeper profile image

      Peter Leeper 5 years ago from Londonderry, New Hampshire

      Thank you everyone. I enjoyed writing this as I am a fan of "poopy" humor of all sorts...especially when it is of the variety shared by many...Please do add any other places to avoid!

    • Shell-Belle profile image

      Shell-Belle 5 years ago from Mesa

      I loved this article! Voted up, very entertaining. Thanks.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Hysterical yet oh so true! I laughed at your antics most likely because I've done the same dances myself. Most people have a fear of public restrooms but there comes a times when you don't have a choice. You ended a useful and entertaining hub with really good advice. Voted up, useful and funny!

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Practical advice for encountering one of the horrors of the road. Voting this Up and Useful.