Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Rant of the Day, 12/22

The subject for today: Messy Public Bathrooms and the People Who Make Them

If there is any one group of people toward whom I have the greatest difficulty summing up Christmas good will, it's people who ruin public bathroom stalls. You know the ones: the ones who can't quite understand what that handle near the top of the commode is for (this is, of course, assuming toilets that are not expected to flush themselves); the ones who bring their little toddler boys into the ladies' restrooms and let them spray the toilet surface, and then fail to realize it might be courteous to wipe up that spray; the ones who choke the commode with far more toilet paper than is necessary -- and then leave, thinking it entirely natural that the mess they've created should become someone else's problem.

As a good libertarian, I'm reluctant to propose a Statist solution for anything, but these inconsiderate bathroom-stall defilers need to be pulled up short. Too long have they been allowed to create problems for others without ever being called to account. I don't want to get the government involved -- that tends to create new (and often worse) problems even as it's "solving" old ones -- but perhaps those businesses whose public bathroom stalls are being defiled should take a hand. After all, a clean public restroom is a huge part of customer satisfaction, and custodians can only do so much when we keep allowing the defilers to create new messes again and again.

I propose observation cameras be installed near the restroom doors, so that everyone who goes in and out of restrooms is recorded, complete with the times of day, and store employees should patrol the restroom exit areas. At least once every thirty minutes, the patrollers should check the restroom stalls to see that none of them has been defiled. If a defilement is found, the camera will have a record of who visited the bathroom at that particular time. The subject will then be identified.

Should the offender return to the store, she (I use the female pronoun because of course I'm talking about ladies' restrooms) will be given a stern warning: either start using proper bathroom etiquette or lose shopping privileges at that particular store. If the offender defiles the stall again, her shopping privileges will be revoked immediately. It keeps the matter out of the hands of the police, but it ensures that at least one habitual bathroom-stall defiler will no longer create havoc at this particular store.

It isn't hard to lift a handle and flush a commode. It isn't hard to wipe the surface of a toilet seat. And it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to do our part to keep public restrooms clean and ensure a satisfying shopping experience for all.

(This solution, of course, is bogus. But sometimes, contemplating potential solutions to problems like this one, however unworkable, can help us feel better.)

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