My friend C.B. Whittemore, who writes at Flooring the Consumer, invited me to participate in Bathroom Blogfest '08. I responded in the affirmative before I knew exactly what this blogfest is.
I checked to see what some were writing. I saw posts about "The Clean Look of a White Bathroom," by Jo Brown (she's an expert -- she works for Kohler), or "Sit or Squat" by David Polinchock, or Sandra Renshaw's post complete with pictures of the bathroom at a Panera restaurant in Sioux Falls, SD. She was quite excited that the bathroom had a little shelf next to the sink, and recommended all businesses should think of that critical amenity. (In the building where my office is, we're lucky if we have soap in the men's room, let alone a little shelf.)
I quickly realized I am way out of my league when it comes to Bathroom Blogfest. While I've spent probably more than my share of time in the bathroom, I don't consider myself expert enough to look for little shelves or all-white decor, or to make recommendations about bathrooms. Just give me a place to stand or sit and some toilet paper and I'm happy. If it doesn't smell bad, so much the better.
But as I gave the subject more thought, I realize I do have something to offer -- not a recommendation, but an observation. I've seen a big change in New York City. It's become much more of a user-friendly city when it comes to public bathrooms. Some 20 years ago, just about the only public restrooms in midtown were in Grand Central Terminal or the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Neither were places you'd want to enter unless you had absolutely no other choice. Back then, I'd rather risk getting busted for public urination than use the Grand Central men's room in the evening while waiting for my train home.
But that has all changed. The bathrooms at Grand Central are clean and well-kept. If you want to go a bit upscale, travel two blocks west on 42nd Street and use the bathrooms in Bryant Park, right behind the Public Library. Bryant Park used to be a dangerous place, even in the daytime -- populated by drug dealers, drug users and all sorts of derelicts and low-life. Now it's a beautiful urban oasis, and the bathrooms are spectacular. Fancy fixtures, very clean and they even have an impressive arrangement of fresh cut flowers. Even Times Square has clean public restrooms at the Times Square welcome center on 7th Avenue around 47th Street.
Yes, New York has become user-friendly when you have to go.
The only advice I feel qualified to offer for Bathroom Blogfest '08, however, isn't about decor or handy amenities. It comes from being married for a long time and constantly hearing the same thing over and over...
When you're done, put the seat down.
(I wonder if I'll be invited back for Bathroom Blogfest '09.)