What Bugs Me: Public Toilets



How’s this for something that gets on your nerves. Public toilets. I try to avoid them, but occasionally find I just can’t hold it. Hurrying to the bathroom, I hope the experience will at least be tolerable. Then I realize there’s no toilet paper in the stall. Fuming, I reach for my purse. I tear through it like a woman searching for a cough drop during a pastor's prayer. There way in bottom is a scrunched up little nothing of a tissue. It gives its all, which isn’t much.

Most times there’s toilet paper, but must it dispense one square at a time? You pull. It snaps off and you pull again and again like you have all day to take care of business. Bits of tissue paper collect on the floor and your blood pressure rises.

Then there’s the situation where someone tears off the tissue paper way up inside the large holder and no matter how many times you twirl the bulky thing around, kerplunking and squeaking with each spin, you can’t find the starting point.


Do you, like me, ever feel like pulling out your cell phone and calling the manager from inside your stall? I want to ask why on earth they can’t install a yielding dispenser.

I’ve never been told why accessing toilet paper has to be such a trying issue in a public bathroom, but I suspect it’s so people won’t waste it.

One of these days I’m going to make that call to the manager. I’ll hold the phone out and flush the commode over and over. “You hear that? Now do you think you’re saving money?" Or I’ll keep pushing the button on the paper towels until they hit the floor and make a lopsided stack. Or maybe I’ll put my hand under the soap dispenser and pump it until a lather of soapy foam fills all the sinks.


 With thoughts of pay-back put aside. I finish and as I’m washing up, a woman enters. I offer the courteous warning we women give each other. “Middle stall has no tissue paper.” I give her a look that says I hope things works out well, almost as though she’s told me about a life crisis and I’m offering words of encouragement.

I open the door and walk back into the store where everything is lovely, soothing music plays, and with the swipe of a credit card you can have whatever you want. I shake off the harried feeling, like a little dog trampled over by a bigger one racing toward something, and hope beyond imagination I can finish my shopping without having to enter that horrid place again.   

Got your own horror story about a public bathroom experience? Share it with me.