I had the opportunity this week to visit a number of gas stations and restaurants as I travelled on the Avalon and to Gander. Although my mind was preoccupied, I did notice a common factor that influenced my impression of the establishments I visited: the state of their washrooms. Here are a few key areas that I consider when deciding whether I can hold it til the next stop:
1. The door knob or handle. During the H1N1 fiasco, I noticed that my workplace was being scrubbed more often, there was hand sanitizer everywhere, and everyone's sleeves looked a little grimy. But nobody seemed to clean door knobs or handles. They still don't. The worst thing about using a public bathroom is touching the door knob. At Irving on the TCH heading out of St. John's, I could actually feel the grime. Gross.
2. The toilet and stall itself. I will never understand motion sensor toilets. Any establisment with a motion sensor toilet hates its customers. And I will never understand the need for a 1000 gallon flush that sends droplets of toilet water up into the air and splashing onto the toilet seat. I didn't see that in my travels this week, but it did just pop into my head, so hiss and boo to that. In a similar vein, I'll mention : seats that are only partly attached or missing, toilets that don't flush at all, and stalls that have stuff growing in them. I do like a stall with a little grafitti, though, as long as it's creative and at least partially well-intended like in the bathrooms at The Ship or Bar None.
3. Papers (TP and PT). If there is no toilet paper or the toilet paper is single-ply, your customers will not like it. If you run out of paper towels, or if you have a roll of paper towels sitting on the sink counter, full of soggy thumbprints instead of in the dispenser, your customers will not like it, not even if you have an electric hand-dryer. Irving in Clarenville, and Walmart on Stavanger, this is for you.
4. General cleanliness. I understand that the washroom can't be spotless all the time, but if there are 8 or 9 servers on staff and your restaurant is near-empty, chances are that water didn't magically shoot from the tap onto the counter, and the toilet paper roll didn't just spontaneously unravel in a heap on the stall floor. Come on, Jungle Jims on Torbay Road. Even at 9 PM on a Friday, the bathroom shouldn't be in that state.
I'm going to stop there with a link to http://www.thebathroomdiaries.com , for anyone who is interested.