Public Restrooms


We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “If you need to find a public restroom, ask an old man.” It’s true. Of necessity, we look for the restrooms and fastest way to get to them any time we enter a new store, restaurant, etc. Even as our memories begin to falter, we always remember where the restrooms are.

Since we spend more time in public restrooms that any other group, people who design them should seek our input before they build one. I mean, if you’re going to build a ship, do you want to talk to a sailor or a desert nomad? We know what works well and what doesn’t.

Have you ever sat on a toilet and started to reach for the toilet paper, only to find the dispenser placed so that you almost have to reach behind yourself to get to it? If you haven’t, you haven’t been in many public restrooms.

In the Walmart where my wife and I shop, the toilet paper dispensers are placed approximately even with my hip joint. I have to reach down, pull the paper down, and yank behind myself to tear it off. Why can’t they put it out in front a little so you can pull it toward yourself to tear it off?

That Walmart has a family restroom—I’m not sure if that means you’re supposed to take the whole family with you or what—where the toilet paper dispenser is placed about two inches from an aluminum box whose purpose is an enigma. They dare you to find a way to reach the paper and tear it off the roll.

Most places that have public restrooms assume only women can find any use for a hook on the back of the door or on a wall. If we guys have a sweater or anything to hang while we avail ourselves of the facilities, we’re usually out of luck. More places have begun installing hooks, but for some reason they want to place them about waist level so the anything you hang there will drag the floor.

Seems like many places have non-repair policies, too. If the latch on a stall door malfunctions—or is ripped out of place by some customer angry about the toilet paper—management enters the date on a calendar to be certain it doesn’t get repaired or replaced for at least a year.

And how about the lavatories? More and more of them are using these faucets with motion sensors that turn on and off. Trouble is, most of them can’t sense motion. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood at one of these in Walmart madly waving my hands under them with nothing happening. Finally a spurt comes out—just enough to make you sorry you got your hands so soapy—and then it cuts itself off.

I’d like to complain about the hot air hand dryers, too, but they are probably a reaction to the public’s propensity to toss paper towels on the floor. Thanks to someone else’s messiness, I have to stand there wishing the blower would dry my hands and then leave the restroom with them still wet.

Yeah, like any older man, I know where all the restrooms are. I just wish they were a bit more user-friendly.


For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.

For more information about his books, click on “Books” above.

Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.


About David N. Walker

David N. Walker is a Christian husband, father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years in the health insurance industry, during which time he traveled much of the United States. He started writing about 20 years ago and has been a member and leader in several writers' groups. Christianity 101: The Simplified Christian Life, the devotional Heaven Sent and the novella series, Fancy, are now available in paperback and in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as through Smashwords and Kobo. See information about both of these by clicking "Books" above.
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15 Responses to Public Restrooms

  1. David – This business of public restrooms is not gender exclusive you know. I so agree about what a totally frustrating experience it can be. I have learned to take along a few essential supplies. I’m also convinced, for the most part, the establishments don’t want us to use their toilet paper and we must provide our own. Additionally, I’ve given up on user friendly hand washing and would it be antiseptic if I did use their knobs and all. I keep a tidy little pack of individual hand wipes to sanitize my hands when out and about. Spot on post!


  2. Forgot to mention how many restaurants turn up volume of obnoxious music in the restrooms.


  3. hawleywood40 says:

    I must say that one of things I like least about day-jobbing is having to use a public restroom all day. Since I work at a university, I am always amazed that people who are smart enough to get into a relatively competitive college were not taught to flush, avoid clogging the toilet, and wipe any drippins’ off the seat.


  4. So funny! I hate airport lavoratories. People seem to have the attitude: No one knows me here, so I’ll just pee all over the seat. And this is in the ladies’ room. I can only imagine the men’s bathroom.

    Meanwhile, for a totally disgusting potty story (heh heh heh) head over to my place and check out @Toristoptalking’s piece. Omigosh, David. Just be glad you didn’t know her way back when. Such a funny Valentine’s Day tale, but #SoWrong!


  5. Lynn says:

    Our public restrooms seem like a luxury after visiting several in Ukraine. In many of them, you have to pay an attendant for toilet paper (which is actually brown crunchy paper towels). And you have to figure out how to balance and aim over a hole in the floor (while holding the toilet paper you just purchased). No handrails, hooks or even garbage cans in the stalls. Fortunately, they are transitioning to “Western” style facilities, but there are still many of these old-style restrooms!


    • Barb Estinson says:

      This does put a different perspective on our public restrooms, Lynn. While I’ve had my share of frustrations in them too, I’ll bet that the majority of our public restrooms would be a dream elsewhere in the world. Thanks for pointing this out.


    • Another reason to be glad I live in the United States. Thanks, Lynn.


  6. Karlene says:

    The hand dryers are killing our hearing. But maybe saving a tree. (And the companies money from buying paper) But today this post made me realize how lucky we are in this world to complain about bathrooms and how the toilet paper comes out. Oh… for those who could only dream about having a bathroom, or paper. One of the luxuries that we forget. Thanks for the reminder how good we have life!


    • I agree, Karlene. We do have it much better than most, but it still doesn’t seem like it would take much thought to make them more convenient. Why spend all that money on a facility that’s so user-unfriendly?


  7. Sharon K. Walker says:

    Amen, brother. I make it a point to speak to a manager if I find something faulty in a public restroom.


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