We’re having dinner with the family over the holidays. After a couple bottles of wine, the conversation quickly devolves into potty talk – literally a discussion about toilets. We got into public toilets, and then more concretely, we really dug into toilets at the airport. Not only did I learn that I have been placing the toilet seat cover on the toilet wrong (my entire life!) but we came up with several design modifications that would aid the weary traveler and his or her bio needs.
This is mostly based on the majority of public restrooms we’ve encountered in the US.
1. Make the doors open outwards. The door on many public toilets opens inwards. Trying to get in the airport bathroom stall, I squeeze myself, my backpack and maybe another wheely carry-on through the door. I pivot and stretch so that I can close the door behind my backpack. Why? It doesn’t need to be like this. Often there’s a ton of space between the stalls and sinks (like 5-20 ft). Just let us push the door out. (*The only reason I can see to open inwards is in the event of a lock failure. It would be unfortunate for the door to accidentally swing outward before you’re done.)
2. Move the hook so that it doesn’t align with the lock. Let’s revisit lock failure for a moment. For some reason, no matter what purse, bag, or backpack you want to hook onto the bathroom door, the bottom of this bag will always inevitably unlatch that janky sliding lock that barely latches the door shut. Even the circular-styled lock that you slide closed with your index finger is likely to come undone while juggling your belongings in the stall.
3. Close the gap. I’m thinking specifically of those freestanding metal restroom partitions whose doors and walls don’t meet the floor or ceiling. You know, the ones where the door seems to float independently of the frame. If you have several of those stalls next to each other, depending on how many are locked or not, the gap between the door and the frame widens or narrows. Everyone politely pretends not to be able to see each other sitting on the toilet. But it’s a lie. We can all see you.
4. Make real, usable shelving or don’t. The metal flap attached to the wall is neither here nor there. It’s about 18 inches long, 8 inches wide at the hinge, and gently tapers to a rounded end. You know, the one that folds down across your face when you’re sitting. None of us could figure out what that’s for. “Oh good, let me just place my single brick, my one encyclopedia volume, my squirmy baby down here,” the weary traveler sighs with content. No. It is never the right size, and it needs a lot of weight to stay horizontal. Anything that I might want to put there for a second, like oh, my plane ticket, passport, magazine, tampon etc. is going to fly off as soon as I place it there and let go.
5. Dry and clean more often. This is the most obvious and varies a ton I’m sure between times of day, seasons, employee schedules, policy at different airports. The only good part is the Airblade. Please see my previous post about the wonders of the Dyson Airblade.
Oh, and none of us kids at this dinner conversation about toilets have babies or children of our own, and it’s been about twenty years since my parents had to deal with babies in bathrooms. I’m sure having to change a diaper in an airport bathroom is equivalent to…I don’t know, every unpleasant or precarious equivalent I could think of: getting stuck in a septic tank (true story), tightrope walking over a cesspool, eating off the floor in a McDonalds, all seemed less awful than changing a diaper in an airport bathroom.
Image found on The Toilet Book – way more than you ever wanted to know about toilets.
Keep the dinner conversation going. We welcome other suggestions and design improvements.