Philadelphia Metropolis

Share/Bookmark

Confessions of a Bathroom Slut

| Comments

By Traci Butterfield

For most of my life, I never really considered where toilet partitions come from when I go into a public restroom.  I usually was more focused on the graffiti and whether or not there was toilet paper on the roll.

But now I work for a subcontractor.  We do "miscellaneous specialties," but primarily we do toilet partitions for businesses large and small in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs.  I never thought I'd know so much about public bathrooms...more than any sane person needs to know, that's for sure.

Once I got involved in this business, the strangest thing happened.  I turned into a "bathroom slut" - which is the nickname we affectionately call ourselves now that we sell toilet stalls for a living. 

I find myself going into public bathrooms everywhere I go, regardless of whether I really have to go or not.  I try not to draw attention to myself as I inspect the "finished product" and sometimes I try not to look at all; but more often than not, I am so impressed with how the bathrooms have turned out that I just can't help but become mesmerized by everything I see.  Who doesn't love to see the finished product after they've slaved away to pull off their job successfully?

guardian-toilet-partitions.gifDesigning a bathroom layout is not as easy as you might think.  The architects who design the building also design the partition layouts, but it is up to us to make sure everything fits correctly.  There are ADA codes to comply with and all kinds of potential conflicts to consider - the doors can't hit the toilets or the sinks; there can't be any gaps between the pieces (which would allow others to see you while you're taking care of business), the partitions can't be too close to the toilets, and the stalls have to be wide enough for any normal-sized person to get into and out of.

Every time you go into a public bathroom and curse because you have to squeeze between the door and the toilet...someone didn't do their job well; but rest assured, it wasn't me!

Once we order the parts and pieces to make the layout work, our installers have to put the puzzle together and construct the layout in the field.  We get to see this transition on paper, but only when we go out in the real world do we get to see the finished product.

It really is embarrassing when I wander into a restaurant or sports complex or other public venue bathroom and catch myself clucking my tongue and pondering out loud why anyone would be silly enough to pick white toilet partitions when the clientele is more than likely to destroy it.

 I'll comment that the owners should look into getting new soap dispensers or fix a door swing so the stalls are all uniform.  I'll touch the panels and make mental note of whether the metal or plastic partitions would have been better for that building.  I always notice when the little metal strip (technical term: shoe) at the bottom of the support (technical term: pilaster) is missing...even though it is only there for looks anyway.  I point out to my friends that the hook on the back of the stall door was installed too high or too low, or it is crooked or doesn't match the hooks in the other stalls - as if any of them care, so long as they have a place to hang their purse! 

Once, I thought I was alone in a McDonald's bathroom so I actually knelt down to get a closer look at the door latch, just so that I could read the manufacturer's name.  To my horror, the door opened and in walked a woman who was actually in the bathroom for a reason.  The confused look on her face was enough to make me bound to my feet, laughing nervously, and trying to explain that "I sell these for a living...I just wanted to see who made the material."  I promptly darted out of the bathroom and out of the McDonald's.  That was a low point for me. 

Even more humiliating are the constant eye-rolls I get from my friends while we're driving down the highway and we pass buildings I recognize.  Rather than telling a funny anecdote or relaying an experience I proudly declare "hey - we did those bathrooms!"

In this day and age, it seems to be customary for friends to share their company discount or donate samples of new products they are selling or contribute useful knowledge they've learned from their career path.  I can't do any of that.  On occasion, I'll befriend the owner of a small restaurant or bar who desperately needs a piece of hardware - a lock or a hook or a toilet paper holder - and I've bartered shamelessly for a gift certificate or promised discount.  Once I made a customer so happy, he treated me and nine of my friends as VIP's at his bar and we didn't pay for a single drink all night.

I figure it could be worse...I could sell port-o-potties, or clean port-o-potties for a living.  Instead, I proudly acknowledge that I am a bathroom slut and gladly take credit for this obscure art form that pays my bills.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus
Site by MartinKelley.com