Friday, June 15, 2012

Just When I Thought it was Safe to Go to the Bathroom...

Hey all,

Today's blog is about one of my all time favorite topics.


And perhaps as you may remember, I've whined, griped, and complained about bathrooms all over the world.  I shook my head at the lack of amenities in such a huge city like Paris.  I snickered over the ways to sneak into those in Barcelona.  I gawked at the open air urinals for men in Amsterdam.  And, if you remember, I fled in terror from the mamasan with the pinchy-pinch in Macau.

Well, guess what.  I've already found another bathroom WTF? in Antwerp.

Now some of you may not see this as unusual.  Maybe it's an everyday occurrence in your country.  But in the good ole U S of A, they'd no more do this than fly to the moon.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that would be done BEFORE this.

So what am I talking about?  

Check this out.  I'm wandering around Antwerp on my first day and eventually I have to pee.  I've already noted that you can't use the toilet here without paying--even at a McDonalds and you're eating there, you still have to cough up the money. Totally wrong in my opinion, but there it is.  

Yet I had to go and so found myself in a mall just off the Groenplaats Square.

I tracked down the bathrooms.  (I could do another blog on the inaccessibility of toilets in Europe.  Why the hell are they all on the top floor or in the basement?  And you ALWAYS have to take these narrow little circular stairs to get to them.  How do people in wheelchairs or others with walking disabilities go potty?  Do they hold it for the whole day?)  

Ooops.  Sorry about the mini rant within a rant, but the placement of bathrooms, especially in restaurants is another WTF? topic over here for me.  

Anyway, I found them, paid my .50 and then got in line to wait.

And wait...

And wait...

After several long minutes I got to wondering if there was only a single bathroom.  But, as I got closer to the front of the line, I saw there were eight stalls.  So what was taking so long?  Then I saw her.  

The Belgium equivalent of the Macau mamasan.  

Standing there in her rubber gloves and calf-high support hose, she nearly had me turning around and racing out the door.  Her cleaning rag clutched in her hand, she glared at each one of us who dared to enter her domain.  And as a lady hesitantly left a stall, her head bowed in shame for having to use the facilities, and the cleaning woman bustled in, her toilet brush waving like a magic wand, I finally understood the reason for the long wait.

Belgium mamasan cleaned each stall EVERY TIME IT WAS USED.  

That's right.  Every time.  Talk about job security.  A woman would use a toilet, leave the stall and she'd scurry in and clean the damn place.  Every. Single. Time.

Now I appreciate a clean bathroom.  Don't get me wrong.  But cleaning a stall each and every time someone goes potty?  Seriously?  No wonder the line reached out into the mall.  Unless they'd had an outbreak of some deadly disease, IMHO, this was total overkill.

Average wait?  Almost eight minutes.  And that was during a slow part of the day.  I can't imagine what it would be like during the busy part on a weekend.  And if you had a child who had to go NOW!!!!  Just get ready to change her pants.  She'd never make it in time.

And the scariest part of the whole thing?  Finding out that terrifying bathroom attendants now span international lines.  I'll bet they even have an organization.  They share  cleaning ideas and how to intimidate and frighten those who would mess up their clean bathrooms.

They probably have meetings.  Stand proudly and while waving their cleaning rags, toilet brushes or pinchy-pinches, chant in whatever language they use...

No Toilet will Go Uncleaned. 

The POOT.  That's what their organization is called.  The Petrifying Operators of Toilets.  There's probably a chapter in every country of the world--except America.  Oh the horror!!!

I wonder if I can hold it until I get back to the USA.

CJ England
Follow Your Dreams


Ray said...

At least they aren't as bad as the toilets outside restaurants and in alleys like the ones in Crete. One in particular was the kind with a tread to step on and instead of a toilet a whole in the floor to hope you hit when you sit down. I only ever used it when I had to do what the men in the first pic were doing. In the eating establishments there were clean restrooms. Of course they were as you mentioned up or down a narrow flight of stairs. No wonder you see men using watering the ground as they enter the city from the highways.

If you think the cleaning women are intimidating in women's restrooms. The same union has women in the men's restrooms. If you leave without paying they yell at you out into the public area.

Phylis said...

Oh Wow! Just wow! So unreal. My rant for bathrooms involves the height of the toilet seat and the width of the stall! ROFL! Minor compared to the Poot patrol! *shaking head* Just Wow! lol

Collette Thomas said...

I'd bring a "case" of Depends with me for sure. At my age I need quick accessibility and after reading this I wonder what happens to those who cannot hold it for longer than what is required.

CJ England said...

I remember walking into my first bathroom in Paris, Ray, years ago. There was a male attendant. I FREAKED. So embarrassed I'd went into the wrong area. Took me several minutes before I realized my mistake. LOL

CJ England said...

You know you're intimidated, Phylis, when you start peeking into bathrooms to see if they are patrolled or not. LOL

CJ England said...

LOL Marie. I tell you, I go whether I need to or not at restaurants now. Anything to avoid the POOT patrol!

Suzanne said...

OMG too funny! I had coffee squirting over my keyboard. I was in the Czech Republic and the old, grumpy miserable attendants scared me every time. Once I was less than the equivalent of a nickel short on the fee and I threw all I had into her basket, screaming apologies but running for fear she'd chase me with the dirty rag in her hand.

CJ England said...

See??? See???? Suzanne has run afoul of the POOT patrol. It's true. AND SCARY!!!

Kelley Heckart said...


I enjoy your posts and this one is way entertaining. And a bit scary. I never see bathroom attendants here in the US unless I'm in a really nice bathroom. Out here in the desert we have to deal with the porta potties. Will appreciate those more now. lol

CJ England said...

Thanks, Celtic Chick. I'm glad you like my blogs. And I could tell you a story about a Red Back spider (Australia's equivalent of a black widow) and a Dunny (outhouse) I had to use in the outback. *shiver* LOL