At lunch today, my friend Linda asked me, “Why the hell did you blog about bathrooms?” I explained to her that I had some funny stories (funny, but not sexual) about using public restrooms at trade shows but that I first wanted to explain why I hate public bathrooms. That explanation took on a life of its own and hence the “Part 1” version of this post.
Anyway, here are the two stories. A few years ago while I was working our booth at the National Restaurant Show at the McCormick Place in Chicago, I discovered a bathroom behind a pizza joint that was barely ever used. It was one of those long and narrow bathrooms with a series of sinks, then urinals, and then 16 toilet stalls in a row. (Yup, I counted ‘em) I really had to go so I strolled all the way down to the end. The bathroom was completely empty so I happily took my place in stall 15 because 16 was a handicap stall.
No sooner did I get down to business then I hear someone come in. The person walks all the way down to the end of the stalls and then enters stall number 14, right next to me. He had 13 other stalls that were not next to me to choose from and yet he decided to sit down and do it next to me. I felt like screaming out, “What? Are you lonely?” And to make matters worse, he started making the worst sounds and smells possible. I wanted to rip the stall door off and beat him over the head with it.
This is my luck in public bathrooms. At the same show (but a different year), I had to use the bathroom near our booth. It was a small bathroom with a couple of urinals and four stalls. It was also a very busy bathroom, something that I normally avoid at all costs. But I drink a lot of coffee at these shows and sometimes the need to go hits me hard and I can’t be away from the booth for very long. So I ventured in and found an empty stall.
Shortly into it, I hear a woman yell into the bathroom, “Are you okay, Harry?” There’s no answer so she asks it again. Still, no answer. The next thing I know I see a pair of pumps outside my stall door and a woman trying to peer through the openings in my door. “Harry, are you in here? Are you ok?” I was just about to say something when this gravelly voice shouts back at her, “I’m ok now get the F@&% outta here!” The woman angrily retorts, “Well you were in here a long time and we just wanted to make sure you were ok,” as she huffed her way out of the men’s room.
I exit the stall and wash my hands while some guys at the urinal are laughing about the whole thing. I run to the booth to tell my co-workers about the unusual visitor in the bathroom. We all had a good laugh and they pointed out that these things could only happen to me. The next day I had to go again and figured that it would be safe to use the bathroom because lightening never strikes twice, right? Was I wrong. Half way into it, I hear my co-worker, Allison, holler into the bathroom, “Preston are you in here? Do you need any help?” I knew I shouldn’t have told them that story. I finished up and quickly exited the stall. There were three guys standing by the urinals staring at me with their mouth’s agape. My face must have been three different shades of red. I work with such wonderful people.
And that’s why I still hate public bathrooms.