Tag Archives: restrooms

Lock the Door


It was the end of the season, and The Man and I were the last camp hosts standing. While we started out working at the mercantile, by the beginning of October, the two of us were covering the parking lot and the three campgrounds on our side of the mountain.

It was Saturday, and The Man was working on a special sign assignment twelve miles down the road, so I was back in the saddle at the busy parking lot.

I took this photo of a giant sequoia in Deer Creek Grove, the southernmost grove of giant sequoias.

Before I was fully out of the campground, I was waylaid in the driveway by some people from Florida  who wanted to know if it was really worth stopping to see giant sequoias.

Um, yes, I said as politely as possible while selling them a day pass. I guarantee they’d never seen anything like a giant sequoia in Florida.

When I got to the parking lot, I started right in on the restrooms, as I always do.

I knocked on the door on the left. No response. I opened the door, pulled over one of the big metal trashcans to hold it open, and assessed the toilet paper situation. So far so good.

As I moved to the restroom on the right, I noticed a kid milling around. He was about eight and appeared to be alone, but I didn’t think much of it. I was on a restroom-cleaning mission.

I took this photo of the restrooms in the parking lot.

I knocked on the door on the right. No response. I opened the door and when I looked inside, I saw a person. I assume the person was male even though the person’s back was to me. I assume the person was male beause the person was in the distinctive taking a piss stance male people get into when they pee.

I was surprised and a little embarrassed, although I’d done nothing wrong. I knocked and no one responded. I opened an unlocked door. Why hadn’t the occupant locked the door? Why hadn’t the kid standing outside warned me about the guy in the restroom? The kid must have known the guy was in there.

I turned away and let go of the door immediatley, letting it slam shut. I didn’t hear the pisser apologize or say anything at all.

My parting words?

Lock the door!

How Do They Work?


It was dusk when the car pulled into the campground. It stopped near the information board, and I walked over to find out if the folks inside were looking for a camping spot. Three young women got out of the car. They seemed to be in their mid 20s.

I asked if they were looking for a campsite. They said they were.

I told them the price to camp ($20) and gave them the rundown on the campground’s lack of amenities: no water, no electricity, no hooks-ups of any kind. (I find it better to tell people right up front what we don’t offer so there’s no disappointment after the fee has been paid.)

After I said, No water, one of the women asked if the campground had restrooms. I told her there were pit toilets.

She asked, How do they work?

I was flabbergasted. I guess she’d never before encountered pit toilets, but don’t the phrases no water and pit toilet paint a pretty clear picture? Apparently not.

I hemmed and hawed and sputtered, unsure of how to answer in a polite and nongross manner. The question caught me completely by surprise. I realize now I should have said, There’s a hole with a plastic toilet over it. Waste material goes into the hole. When the hole gets full, the waste products are pumped out.

This is a pit toilet. It works thanks to gravity.

This is a pit toilet. It works thanks to gravity.

The next day when I saw my co-worker, I told him the story of the young woman who wanted to know how the pit toilet worked.  He provided me with a succinct, elegant answer: Gravity.



Locked Door


I usually only share stories I’ve witnessed, but my co-worker told me this one immediately after it happened, and it’s too good to keep to myself.

Our restrooms are in a small building in the middle of the parking area.IMG_6725

On one side of the building are two doors. Each door opens to a wheelchair accessible room housing a pit toilet. The doors remain unlocked unless someone goes into the room and locks the door behind him/herself.

IMG_6727 Next to each door is a sign. Each sign has the word “Restroom” on it, as well as pictures to communicate the restroom’s suitability for all genders, as well as folks who use wheelchairs or other devices to help with mobility limitations.

On the other side of the building is one door, which remains locked unless someone with a key (me, my co-worker, our boss) unlocks it. My old boss called the area behind the door the “B room,” and my new boss calls it the “breezeway.” It’s essentially a small storage room where we keep cleaning supplies, toilet paper, and extra day passes. There is no sign of any kind outside the B room.IMG_6724

One Friday, my co-worker walked down to the building in the middle of the parking lot to do the midmorning cleaning of the restrooms. He went over to the side with the door to the B room to get the supplies he needed. As he approached the door, he saw a woman or middle age leaning on the door to the B room. She was slumped over and mumbling to herself. When she saw my co-worker heading in her direction, she told him, Somebody’s been in there a long time!

My co-worker had to bear to her the bad news that no one was ever going to come out of the room, that, in fact, there was no toilet in the room. He escorted her around to the other side of the building where her urgency impressed the people in the queue, and everyone agreed to allow her to jump to the head of the line.

I took the photos in this post.

Second Most Popular Attraction


It was Independence Day weekend and the parking lot was quite busy.

A car carrying three women pulled in. A brunette–probably in her 50s–was driving. The woman in the passenger seat seemed to be the driver’s mother. I didn’t get a good look at the woman in the back seat.

The mother-age woman tried to use her Golden Age card to avoid the parking fee. I explained we accept no passes and offer no discounts in the parking lot. The mother-age woman seemed mildly disgruntled, but the woman driving took it all in stride and stayed friendly.

I further explained the lot was quite crowded and they might not be able to find a parking spot. I sent them on their way to look for a place to park, telling them to pay the parking fee up front on their way to trail if they found a place to leave the car.

My co-worker was off cleaning restrooms when the women showed up at the front of the parking lot, three little dogs in tow. The third woman was blond, and I picked up the info she was the cousin of the brunette, who was the daughter of the woman with the Golden Age card.

The brunette cheerfully paid the parking fee and went off to use the restroom, leaving her dog with the other two women who hovered near me and vied for my attention. I was not standing around idly entertaining tourists, but collecting parking fees and explaining the lay of the land to new arrivals.

The blond cousin and the mother were not scintillating conversationalists. Every time I got to walk away from them felt like an escape. They both seemed rather out of it, slow even, but I don’t know if that was due to age, medication, or genetics. Honestly, they were making me nervous and uptight.

Finally, the brunette returned and collected her little dog. Something was said about the restrooms, maybe a comment was made about how long the brunette had stood in line.

I said, My co-worker says the restrooms are the second most popular attraction here.

What’s the most popular? the blond asked.

I was stunned, both by the question and my inability to think of a smart-ass response.

I just answered, The trees ma’am. The trees.

The most popular attraction.

I took this photo of the most popular attraction.




More Restroom Confusion


I don’t really like to use the restrooms in the parking lot.

Although my co-worker does a good job cleaning them every morning, by the time I go in there, a lot of strangers’ butts have been on the seats, and there’s usually liquid (don’t think about it) and toilet paper on the floor. Besides, there’s hardly a moment when other people aren’t waiting to get in.

I try to remember to use the restroom immediately before I leave my campground for my shift in the parking lot. The restrooms in my campground see a lot less use than the ones in the parking lot, so the ones in the campground stay a lot cleaner. If I remember to go before I go, I can use a parking lot restroom just once during my shift.

I try to make my restroom visit before my co-worker leaves for the day. I like to know he’s up front handling things while I’m away.

The other afternoon, I made the short journey to the parking lot restrooms half an hour before my co-worker’s scheduled departure. When I walked up, three women were standing outside the two restrooms, just sort of milling about.

When did people quit standing in line? Is it something about being in nature that does away with people’s sense of order? (The trees aren’t standing in line, so why should I? Chipmunks don’t wait their turn, so why should I?) Is the refusal to line up some sort of rebellion against all thing elementary school? I don’t know, but this milling about instead of lining up sure annoys me. How am I supposed to know who goes in next if everyone is just standing around unorganized?

So I said to the three women standing there Are you in line? Are you in line? Are you in line?

The answers were Yes. No. Yes.

(I guess the No was waiting for the first Yes.)

A woman came out of the restroom on the right, and the first Yes went in. Less than a minute later, a man came out of the restroom on the left. The second Yes just stood there. I thought maybe she didn’t want to crowd the guy, but the door to the restroom closed completely and the guy disappeared from our view. Still the woman just stood there.

Finally I piped up with something along the lines of Aren’t you waiting? or Go ahead!

The woman started stammering…Oh, I thought…Isn’t that…? Then she looked up and saw that the signs on the wall show both restrooms are unisex


The signs on the wall show both restrooms are unisex. (This photo was taken by me.)

and said, Oh, I see…as she finally started moving towards the door on the left.

She thought, because she’d seen a woman go into the door on the right and a man come out of the door on the left, there was a men’s restroom and a women’s restroom.

As she was heading toward the restroom, I understood what she had been thinking. I said, I’d have just gone into the men’s room.

She turned and looked at me with disbelief in her eyes. Really? It’s the 21st century and a woman using the men’s restroom is scandalous?