Tag Archives: restroom

High Maintenance


I was walking down the incline leading to the restrooms. I’d been at the front of the parking lot putting self-pay envelopses into their holder, and now I was heading down to the restrooms to check the toilet paper supply.

I saw the woman open the restroom door, look inside and squeal with disgust. Look at that! she said to her male companion.

Oh no, I thought, imagining what the woman was seeing in there to cause such revulsion.

Where do you even wash your hands? the woman asked her companion in utter disbelief.

Theres no water here, I told the couple. No water in the campgrounds on this mountain either. That’s what the drought’s done. There used to be water here, but now the well’s dry.

The woman looked at me increduously. The fellow was grinning slightly.

What did you see in the restroom? I asked the woman. Did someone do something gross?

No, she said a little sheepishly. I was just being high maintenance.

I chuckled when she called herself high maintenance. She didn’t look high maintenance–no high heels, no elaborate makeup or fingernails or hairdo, no inappropriate-for-spending-time-in-nature clothing–but standing in the doorway or a restroom that’s not really dirty and making sounds of disgust does make a person seem high maintenance in my eyes.

If you enjoyed this story, check out my book Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. It’s all about my two seasons as a camp host and parking lot attendant at a very popular trailhead.

I took the photos in this post.

Restroom Monitor


It was Labor Day weekend and the mercantile was packed.

I’d tried to go to lunch twice before I succeeded. Both times I went outside, got to my van, and watched a crowd of people head to the store. I could have left the manager to deal with the customers alone, but I try to be a team player. Both times I turned around and went back into the store to help.

Right before I finally left for lunch at 1:15, one of the camp hots of the campground where the mercantile is located came into the store and said he was closing the women’s restroom at the front of the campground because there had been an “accident.” He said the restroom would be closed for a while.

The restrooms at the front of the campground get a lot of action. Not only are they used by campers and the employees of the mercantile, they’re also used by people who walk the trail. Lots of people park in the overflow lot at the front of the campground and visit the restrooms before and after their stroll through the trees. Other visitors utilize the restrooms when they leave the trail to shop in the mercantile or to take a look at the campground. It’s not unusual in the late morning or early afternoon on a weekend to see lines five or six people long waiting for both front restrooms.

A little after 2pm, a woman stepped up to the counter where I was standing. Is there another women’s restroom? She asked me. That one’s locked.

I glanced out the yurt’s front window. I saw five or six people (not just men) in line in front of the men’s room. It appeared the camp host had not yet cleaned the accident in the other restroom.

I told the woman the restroom had been closed because it needed cleaning. (I didn’t mention it had needed cleaning for at least 45 minutes.) Then I told her about the two additional restrooms at the back of the campground. I pointed to the road she should follow to the restrooms and sent her on her way.

When I wasn’t looking, the mercantile manager must have loaned the tourist woman a little bottle of hand sanitizer because several minutes later, I saw the tourist woman handing it back to the manager.

Did you find the restroom ok? I asked the tourist.

Actually, the ranger told me I couldn’t use it, she said apologetically.

My mouth literally dropped open, and I had quite a difficult time closing it. The manager of the mercantile was looking at her incredulously too. One of us managed to ask, What?, and the woman elaborated.

As she walked toward the back of the campground, the female camp host (whom the tourist mistook for a ranger) stopped her to ask where she was going. When the woman said she was going to the restroom, the camp host told her she couldn’t use the restrooms in the back!

The manager and I both apologized to the woman and told her the camp host should not have denied her access.

Both the manager and I were astonished. While we trusted the tourist woman was telling us the truth, we could hardly imagine a camp host prohibiting a visitor from using a functional restroom.

There are many reasons a person might not be able to stand in line and wait for a restroom.  Maybe the woman was pregnant. (Granted the woman didn’t appear pregnant, but I’m not an obstetrician.) Maybe the woman had a physical condition that necessitated an immediate restroom visit. Maybe she’d simply pushed her body to its limit and needed to go NOW! Maybe she was trying to be efficient and take care of her needs elsewhere while her family was using the one open restroom in the front. Maybe she just didn’t want to go into the overused men’s room. The bottom line is, the camp host should not have denied the woman the use of any open restroom in the campground.

During my profuse apology, I asked the tourist woman if she wanted to write a comment card. She said she did. When she finished, I promised to get it to my boss, and I did so by sending it home with his wife.

The next day the mercantile manager and I saw The Big Boss Man talking to the female camp host. I was busy when he came into the mercantile, but the manager later told me he said the camp host said (this is like a game of telephone, I know) there had only been a couple of people in line for the restroom when the tourist lady tried to use the back restroom. That, of course, was a lie, but even if only one person had been in line, the woman should have been allowed to use one of the restrooms in the back. The camp host went on to say she didn’t want any day-use visitors messing up the restrooms the campers were using!

I’m not going to say day–use visitors wouldn’t mess up a restroom in some way. However, it’s the camp host’s job to clean restrooms, no matter who messes them up. I sure hope The Big Boss Man explained to his employee that cleaning a dirty restroom, regardless of who made the mess, is the duty of a camp host.

Restroom Confusion


I’ve been promoted to driving the company truck and picking up trash at the nearby group campground and at the parking lot on the days off of the co-worker who is normally responsible for trash detail.

The other day I was getting the trash from the two cans near the restrooms in the parking lot. A man and a woman approached the doors to the restrooms. The man had on a ball cap and a t-shirt and pants of some kind. He was nondescript. The woman I can best describe as citified. If she wasn’t from L.A., she wanted to be. She was one of those women who’s worked so hard to look like Western society’s ideal of a woman that she looks like a drag queen. Or maybe she was a drag queen.

The restrooms in the parking lot do not segregate genders. There’s not a women’s restroom and a men’s restroom. There are two restrooms, both accessible for folks with disabilities and both available to men or women or any other gender variety. The signs have those humanoid figures representing males and females one finds on restrooms. Each restroom displays both the “male” and the “female” humanoid symbols.


This is the type of sign on the restrooms in the parking lot. (Photo by me.)

The citified woman stood in front of the restrooms and repeated I don’t understand. I don’t understand.

She said something else (that I now don’t remember) which made me realize she didn’t understand the signs and therefore didn’t know which restroom to use.

I piped up helpfully, They’re unisex.

“Unisex” did not seem to be in her vocabulary.

Then the man reached out and tried the handle on the restroom door nearest to him. It did not open.

It’s locked, he told the woman, seemingly perplexed.

That’s probably because someone is in there, I said, still trying to be helpful. You should knock to find out if someone is in there.

Both of them seemed to be ignoring me.

Then the woman tentatively tried to open the other door.

You should knock, I told her before giving up on trying to be helpful.

The woman managed to open the door. She went into the restroom, and the door closed behind her. She immediately came back outside, shaking her head. She said something quietly to the man, and I could tell she was disgusted, but whether by the bad smell or the fact that the toilet was vault style and not a flusher, I don’t know.

At that point I’d collected the trash, so I got in the truck and drove away.

Sometimes I wonder if what appears to be humans acting strangely aren’t actually space aliens confused by our human ways. How  could a human someone not directly arrived from a developing nation have never encountered a unisex restroom? Target stores have unisex restrooms. Even Wal-Marts have unisex restrooms. And why didn’t the man know to knock on the door in order to find out if it was locked because it was in use? Doesn’t everyone know to knock on a locked restroom door?

Space aliens I tell you.