Wednesday, 17 December 2014

In and out - navigating the public loo

Whoever designs public toilets needs to rethink the whole thing. Since the advent of the enormous toilet paper dispensers which hold enough paper to last into the forseeable future, there is no room to enter or exit the cubicle. The square meterage of cubicles has also shrunk, both lengthwise and widthwise. Add a container for the disposal of, ahem, ladies' sanitary items, a handbag and your Christmas shopping, there's barely room for a person. This is further compounded by a lack of hooks for hanging one's luggage. At Flinders Street station, this is a diabolical problem, as the floors are unclean and often wet - I hate to think with what. Once the door swings open, there's barely 2 cm between the edge of the door and the the lip of the loo. The space to stand so the swinging door doesn't knock you into the actual toilet, is taken up with the toilet paper dispenser. Getting in, it's a matter of slinging the bags over the shoulder and performing a physical origami act that would make a circus contortionist rethink their vocation. This results in being wedged between the toilet pedestal, the back wall and the lifetime supply of toilet paper. The door can then be flung towards the locking position, but arms are never long enough to reach the lock from there, so the bags are thrown, quoit-like, at the door in the hope that there is a) a hook on the door,  b) that the target will be hit and c)  that said hook will hold. The momentum keeps the door travelling the right direction, giving sufficient time to step over the bowl to the other side of the cubicle so the door can be locked.

Having undertaken the relaxing business of answering nature's call, the logistical challenge of ejecting oneself from this cell of complexity looms. The challenge is all about order. Standing up results in injuries to the face as the bags hanging on the back of the door make contact. Leaning up to try to dislodge the bags before fully standing results in considerable pain from the dislocated shoulder which follows. There's also the risk that the windmill action required could result in the bags flying over one's head and plunging to their watery death. Once that bit is worked out, the entry process is engineered in reverse: wedging in behind the toilet and the dispenser while trying to reach the lock on the door. If one can manage to open the door from this angle, then the ridiculousness of the situation is on display for all to see. And there will be plenty to see it because no matter where or when, there is ALWAYS a queue in the women's  toilets. Everyone pretends not to notice, but really they're dreading the feat that awaits them. Not only does all of the above have to be accomplished, it must be done under pressure of time - there are ladies queuing - but it must be achieved with a full bladder!

Who the hell designed these?

Open the doors outwards!

No comments:

Post a Comment