Tag Archives: restrooms

Restroom Monitor

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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.

Lock the Door

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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?